​Drones to be used for crowd control in India’s Lucknow

Reuters / Andrew Innerarity
Police in the northern Indian regional capital of Lucknow have announced plans to deploy drones capable of dispersing large, unruly crowds with pepper spray, in addition to surveillance and capturing snapshots of suspects.

“We have purchased five drone cameras with capacity of lifting two kilogram weight. They can be used to shower pepper powder on an unruly mob in case of any trouble,” Senior Superintendent of Police Yashasvi Yadav told PTI news agency on Friday.

The drones, which can fly up to 600 meters within a one kilometer radius will be formally launched later this month, Yadav said.

Drones are already being used for monitoring purposes throughout sensitive parts of the northern Indian state Uttar Pradesh, however this will be the first time that the unmanned aircraft will be used for crowd control in India.

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Yadav said the district administration had deployed similar drones for aerial surveillance during several large city-wide celebrations last year, including Muharram and Republic Day.

The administration was so pleased with the result, that it decided to buy the equipment. With a population of over two million, Lucknow is India’s eighth most populous city.

“We had used drone cameras and they were so effective that we have decided to purchase them instead of hiring them,” Yadav said. Each ‘crowd control’ drone is expected to cost around $1000.