Infirm on ground, police want to watch city from sky

ISLAMABAD: The capital police are considering purchasing an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for surveillance and intelligence gathering in the capital city.

Officials in the police told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that compared to hiring a helicopter the use of a UAV was much cheaper for the surveillance purposes.

At present, a UAV, commonly known as the sky eye, is available in the local market for Rs200,000 to Rs400,000. On the other hand, chartering a helicopter for an hour costs Rs300,000.

Besides, compared to a helicopter the results of the surveillance and intelligence gathered through the UAV is much better. The officials said sky eye was under the use of police in most of the countries in the world.

However, intelligence and security agencies considered the UAV as a security risk. There is no mechanism for the identification of an unwanted UAV so miscreants can also use the technology.

There is also diffidently to put in place regulations and precautionary measures to identify and check the unwanted UAVs in the sky.

The police have tasked an under-training assistant superintendent (ASP) with the job to collect material on the technology and prepare a report for further consideration.

It may be mentioned that UAVs were used by some media houses to cover the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf public gathering near Parade Ground on May 11. After seeing the objects flying over the venue, the inspector general of the police ordered to bring them down and arrest those using them.

Later, the IGP was informed that the UAVs were being used by media houses for the coverage of the gathering. The IGP, however, again asked his force to bring them down.

At one stage, the police also called shooters to target the UAVs, the officials said. The shooters reached the spot and climbed the rooftop of a nearby building to shoot them down. However, on the interference of a senior officer, no action was taken against them, the officials said.

On September 7, 2013, two suspects having links with a terrorist outfit were taken into custody during a raid jointly conducted by the capital police and an intelligence agency in a house at Khyaban-i-Kashmir, G-15.

The search of the house led to the recovery of arms and ammunition along with four remote-controlled toy planes.

The police claimed at that time that the suspects had planned to stuff the toy planes with explosive materials and target some important installations outside the red zone.

On March 26, two persons were taken into custody by the Naval police and later handed over to the Margalla police. Two remote-controlled planes were recovered from them. On that day, the two men reached Faisal Mosque to fly the two toy planes but after getting out of range one of the planes crashed into the Naval Complex.

The two men were taken into custody when they arrived at the complex gate to seek help in retrieving the plane.

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