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Hyderabad Police Conducts Arbitrary Search Operations At Local Hotels To Maintain “Peace”

Speaking to mediapersons, Inspector Shiva Chandra noted that the operation was carried out at multiple hotels in the city’s Santosh Nagar area to check whether any customers were carrying weapons or marijuana with them.

In a video that was widely circulated on Twitter on September 17, the Hyderabad police was captured frisk-searching people in multiple restaurants in the city’s Santosh Nagar area. According to the police, the search was conducted to check whether customers visiting these hotels carried a gun, knife, ganja (cannabis), or any other weapon on them.

Speaking to the media, Inspector Shiva Chandra stated that he and his team initiated the search operation in King Khaja Hotel, Lucky Hotel, Nafees Cafe, Mashallah Hotel, Meena Cafe, Siddiqui Hotel, and Ya Syed Hotel.

“We identified the restaurants which attract more customers and conducted a physical search in the [above-mentioned] hotels to check if any customer carried weapons or ganja pockets. We checked around 200 customers and did not find anything on anyone. We did so to encourage the public, instill a sense of responsibility among them and maintain peace in the area,” Chandra said in the video.

Hyderabad residents have pointed out the discriminatory nature of such policing activities, wherein the police are selectively identifying hotels and restaurants run by the Muslim community.

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Hyderabad, the surveillance city:

The video adds to numerous evidences that reveal infamous surveillance activities carried out by the Hyderabad police to surveil local people. From publicly frisking innocent residents to scanning people’s face using facial recognition tools, the city police have left no stone unturned to infringe upon residents’ privacy stating law enforcement purposes, especially since the Covid-19 lockdown.

As observed by SQ Masood, who had filed a petition against the unchecked use of facial recognition by Telangana cops, these “military-style” search activities are mainly carried out under the ‘Mission Chabutra’ and ‘Cordon and Search Operations’ in select areas identified by the police to be “crime-hotspots”. The police notoriously employ methods such as Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping techniques to identify crime hotspot areas, fingerprint scans and facial scans via the TSCOP app (used by Telangana police to track suspected and missing criminals), alongside AI-enabled CCTV networks to surveil these areas and indulge in preventive policing.

Moreover, these raids are undertaken without a warrant or any kind of public notice substantiating the legal grounds for such overboard measures leading to a violation of people’s fundamental rights as well as raising fears of mass-profiling.

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Written By

Curious about the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights. For story tips, please feel free to reach out at sarasvati@medianama.com

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