Mumbai police to get aerial drones to help fight crime

State government has included 24 drones on a list of equipment being procured for the force, which was criticised for its lack of high-tech equipment to fight 2008's terrorist attack on the city.

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MUMBAI // Police in the city of Mumbai, criticised for being underequipped and ill-trained to deal with the deadly attacks on the city in 2008, are to get unmanned flying vehicles to help fight terrorism, a report said yesterday.

The Maharashtra state government has included 24 drones on a list of equipment being procured for the force, the Mumbai Mirror newspaper said, without quoting sources.

Funding for the 1.1-billion rupee (Dh88 million) programme, which includes high-powered assault rifles, bulletproof vests, baggage scanners and bomb detection kits, would be met by the state and central governments, it said.

Improving coastal security and modernising the police have been important issues since the attacks, which saw 10 Islamist militants arrive undetected by boat to launch a wave of attacks on high-profile targets in the port city.

The gunmen, who hit three luxury hotels, a popular tourist restaurant, the city's main railway station and a Jewish centre, killing 166 and injuring more than 300, were equipped with powerful weaponry.

In contrast, many Mumbai police officers were armed only with bamboo sticks, and had no radio communications or protective body armour. The authorities were also criticised for a lack of co-ordination that hampered the response.

The Mumbai Mirror said the city's police would become the first force in India to deploy drones, which are mainly used by militaries around the world for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes.

India's navy said in January that it was looking to station a squadron of Israeli-made drones in the north-western state of Gujarat to help with coastal patrols.

A similar squadron has been based in the southern city of Kochi since 2006, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.