More UAVs to fly in Naxal belt, set off air safety fears
India is planning to drastically scale up the number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from one to six that survey the skies at the same time over Naxalite-infested areas in Chhattisgarh, but the move has the civil aviation authorities worried over air safety issues. This is because the altitude at which the UAVs fly will be raised from the current 10,000 ft to 20,000 ft. A large number of passenger aircraft fly over central India and the authorities want to avoid the possibility of any mid-air collision.
Well-placed sources said it was pointed out by the aviation authorities that the UAVs must have transponders installed to detect aircraft flying in the vicinity. The authorities also want guidelines in place to regulate the operation of UAVs when commercial flights are operating in the same airspace. Sources said a monitoring mechanism may soon be put in place at Hyderabad and at a location near Bhilai in Chhattisgarh.
The number of UAVs to be put into operation is being scaled up as their data inputs are proving extremely valuable. For instance, recently, the flight path of a helicopter over Chhattisgarh (which had a prominent Union minister on board) was diverted at the last minute after Naxalite movement was detected (through UAV data) near the place where the helicopter was due to land. On another occasion, the UAVs sent clear thermal images of Naxal leaders fleeing on motorcycles after an encounter with the security forces.
The UAVs are also sending clear images of Naxal movement on foot at night despite the heavy jungle cover. Sources said civilian passenger aircraft have the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) on board to alert pilots in case another aircraft is breaching the minimum air-proximity limits, but transponders on UAVs are being insisted upon as the UAVs are tiny compared to commercial aircraft. “When one UAV is operating at 10,000 ft, the situation is well under control, but if six UAVs operate at a time at 20,000 ft, commercial passenger aircraft have to be protected from any possibility of collision. That is why we need guidelines in place,” an aviation source said.
BSF arrests one Naxal activist
New Delhi, Aug 5 (IBNS): The Border Security Force (BSF) recently apprehended one Naxal activist and also recovered arms and ammunition in his possession at Malkangiri in Odisha. “The troops of 61 Battalion deployed in Malkangiri, Odisha carried out a special operation on Saturday from 1330 Hrs to Sunday till 0700 Hrs in the general area, Diga Janbhai and apprehended one suspect Naxal,” the BSF said in a statement. “The suspect namely Machilingam is a resident of Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh,” it said. The BSF said that they recovered 6 country made guns, 1 butt assemble and 400 grams of iron balls.
Arrested Jadavpur University girl denies Maoist link
KOLKATA: A day after the arrest of Matangini Mahila Samity member Jayeeta Das, police could not make much headway into the investigation. Special Task Force (STF) officers had claimed that Das, a student of Jadavpur University, was a city committee member of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) and that they had recovered some letters that suggested her links with it. Das has reportedly denied all allegations. The STF had information that she was in constant touch with Ashok alias Chandi Sarkar, former state committee member of the Bengal chapter of CPI (Maoist).
Sarkar was released from jail after being acquitted in four cases. Das reportedly admitted that she had met Sarkar but also claimed that Sarkar has not been associated with any political activity since he came out of jail. But the STF claimed that Sarkar was now heading the Maoists in their regroup bid in Bengal and guiding city committee members like Das to reorganize different wings of the party. The STF even claimed that Sarkar has once again “gone underground”. Surprisingly, Sarkar was found at his Krishnagar home on Sunday. “Ever since I was released, I have been totally off any political activity. I am always at home,” he said. Police are trying to find out whom Das has met in recent times.
The STF claimed that her link with the Maoists cropped up during the interrogation of Sabyasachi Goswami alias Kishore, who was arrested for his association with the banned outfit. Goswami was a close aide of Sarkar’s and they were in the same jail. Police claimed that after coming out of jail, Sabyasachi started to work for the party and was guiding the Kolkata City committee. Another former student of Jadavpur University, Abhishek Mukherjee was then leading the city committee.
After his arrest, Jayeeta took charge of the city committee, claimed police. Meanwhile on Monday, superintendent of south 24 district police summoned elderly rights activist Syamal Roy, who runs a mobile news service Dadhichi. Roy, brother of veteran Maoist leader Sushil Roy, who is now in jail, alleged that state blocked all the simcards used for the news service. Challenging the action, Roy moved to National Human Rights Commission. Sources said a state minister alleged that Roy is linked with the Maoists, so police summoned him. Rights organization APDR assistant secretary Ranjit Sur condemned such harassment.