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In response to drone threats and misuse, Kerala government launches Drone Forensic Lab

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The Kerala government is stepping up efforts to check the misuse of drones in the backdrop of a drone attack that took place a few months ago on the IAF station at Jammu airport. 

The Kerala government launched a first-of-its-kind Drone Forensic Lab and Research Centre on Friday, as per a report by news agency ANI. According to Thiruvananthapuram’s Additional Director General of Police Manoj Abraham, the lab aims to look into both the utility and threat aspects of the drone. 

The lab was inaugurated by Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the Kerala State Police CyberDome. Vijayan emphasised the need for the state’s law enforcement agencies to catch up with remotely-operated drones which are emerging as force multipliers in the hands of criminals. He also added that the facility would help investigators gain an edge over those who operate drones for illegal purposes.

Citing the recent instance of a drone attack on the Indian Air Force base in the Jammu region, Vijayan said that there is information that anti-national forces are using drones for destructive activities including spying, smuggling, and terrorism.

More details about the Drone Forensic Lab 

ADGP Manoj Abraham told ANI that an anti-drone mechanism would be devised to check the misuse of drones as witnessed at Indian borders. He also said:

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“The mechanism so devised will also be capable of identifying all kinds of drones flying within a radius of five km and will also be capable of neutralizing it. Analyses of drones will take the place at the research centre and the police force will check their origin, their utility value for day-to-day policing purposes.”

Talking to Network18, Kerala Police Chief Anil Kant had said that they also aim to explore the scope for partnering with the Centre for drone research since drones are another “emerging threat which may pose serious technological threat” to cities as well.

Use of drones by Kerala Police to enforce COVID-19 regulations

Kerala State Police has been proactive in its usage of drones. During the first lockdown last year, MediaNama had reported how Kerala Police had made use of drones to enforce COVID-19 regulations. In April 2020, Kerala Police had tweeted a compilation video of drone footage recorded in the state in which people were found running across paddy fields, on roads and on beaches upon sighting the drone.

Kerala Police had deployed drones in each of the seven containment zones in Kasargod. The drones which were hired by the police belonged to private citizens who used them for photography purposes. The recorded footage by these drones was stored in the mobile phones of police officials and not the operators’ devices. The drone footage had also led to the arrest of 160-170 violaters (of COVID-19 regulations) within 3 days, according to police officials.

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