Jammu and Kashmir police have started routine aerial surveillance in Kashmir, particularly in the capital Srinagar, using drones with high-resolution cameras. While the move has been hailed by the security agencies, who expect the technology to curb militant and criminal activities, a few people have also raised concern over the invasion of privacy.
Srinagar police on Friday evening shared a 31-second video on its Twitter handle showing high-resolution footage of a locality in Srinagar. The camera shows a highly congested locality. The video gives a bird’s eye view of the courtyards, roofs and terraces and then pans to show people walking in a park and adjacent ground. The camera view seems to capture the video from over the treetops.
The police said that they were going for the surveillance of ‘suspected localities’ with cameras which may not be visible from the ground.
“Aerial surveillance was going on in suspected localities of Srinagar looking for anti-socials, criminals, terrorists, OGWs (over the ground workers of militants) etc using modern drones with high-resolution cameras, these may not be visible from ground but be assured that life, property of citizens will be safeguarded,” the tweet said.
Earlier during the day, a high-profile meeting of deputy inspectors general of police of central, south and north Kashmir, CRPF and SSB was held over the issue.
“The meeting was (also) attended by SSP Srinagar and commandants of CRPF, BSF plus all seven SPs of Srinagar district. The meeting deliberated upon the security of Srinagar city, especially digital and high-tech surveillance,” the Srinagar police said in another tweet.
In fact, the issue was deliberated with the state’s director general of police Dilbag Singh on Wednesday who presided over a high-level joint meeting of officers to review the overall security scenario of Srinagar and districts of South Kashmir.
Singh emphasised revisiting the city and south Kashmir security grid plans and urged to deal strictly with elements involved in ‘misguiding the youth and pushing them towards terrorism’.
“He directed the officers to strengthen area dominance and night patrolling in grey areas. The DGP stressed placing the surprise Nakas (checkpoints) and ambushes to check for any suspect movement. He directed the use of modern gadgets including drones and CCTVs for area dominance,” a police spokesman quoted the DGP saying.
While the move was being hailed for its potential to curb criminal activities and drugs, some people fear its potential misuse to invade the common man’s privacy.
“As long as this surveillance was to ensure the safety of the citizens and to curb the criminal activities, it’s welcome, but it must not violate the right to privacy,” said a netizen Shakir ul Islam, who reacted to the police’s video.
Another netizen, Kaiser Khan said: “Somehow it violates the privacy of an individual, at least of our women flock at home. That should be our concern.”