Drones Banned In J&K’s Rajouri Amid Heightened Security After Blast At Jammu IAF Station

Amid increased reports of drone activity in Jammu and Kashmir after the recent bombing of the Jammu IAF station, authorities in border district Rajouri on Wednesday imposed a ban on the storage, sale, possession, use, and transport of the flying machines.

An order issued by District Magistrate, Rajouri, Rajesh Kumar Shavan also directed those having drones or similar objects in their possession to deposit the same with the local police station. However, government agencies using drones for mapping, surveys, and surveillance must inform the local police station in-charge and executive magistrate about the same said Shavan in his order.

In what was the first instance of Pakistan-based terrorists deploying drones to strike vital installations, multiple drones were dropped at the IAF station Jammu in the early hours of Sunday, causing minor injuries to two personnel. The explosions took place around 1.40 am within six minutes of each other. The first blast ripped off the roof of a single-story building at the technical area of the airport manned by the IAF in the Satwari area on the outskirts of Jammu. The second one hit the ground.

Attempt to ‘secure aerial space’

As per the order, the Rajouri DM imposed the ban/restrictions on the storage, sale, possession, use, and transport of any drone or small flying objects/flying toys in the district in the exercise of powers vested under section 144 of CrPC.

“However, those having already the drone cameras/flying objects or toys or like objects in their possession shall get the same deposited with the local Police Station against proper receipt,” the order said.

The district magistrate said it has been observed that anti-national elements are using drones and flying objects to cause damage, injury, and risk to human lives in certain parts of the Union Territory.

“Whereas, it has also been noticed that for the last 10-15 years, the domestic use of small drone cameras has also increased in the society for capturing photos and videos in the social and cultural gatherings and particularly the youth are more fascinated to have use of drone-like toys and electronic gadgets.

“Whereas in the current situation to avoid any confusion and to secure the aerial space near the vital installations and highly populated areas, it is the rationale and expedient to discontinue the use of any drone/small flying toys/objects in all social and cultural gatherings to eliminate any risk of injury to the life and property,” the order said.

Shavan said since it was not possible to serve prior notice, it is, as such, being issued ex-parte.

“Any violation of this order shall attract punitive action as warranted under relevant law. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Rajouri shall ensure implementation of this order in letter and spirit,” the order read.

Multiple drone sightings in Jammu

After the Jammu airbase attacks, three more drone activities were reported in Jammu on Tuesday night and early morning on Wednesday near vital security installations in Jammu even as the areas are under alert. 

The Indian Air Force on Wednesday installed high-mast lighting at the IAF Station in Jammu to increase surveillance and track any incoming drones or security threats at the airbase. The development comes amid the increased drone activity in the UT of J&K and the recent twin blasts at the Indian Air Force Station in Jammu. The high-mast lighting will be able to detect the drones at a considerable distance and will help thwart incoming threats.

PM Modi gives nod to expedite drone policy

It may be noted that on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave his approval to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to expedite a policy on drones. According to sources, a unanimous clearance was obtained for expediting a policy on drones which had been pushed by the Defence Ministry and IAF on previous occasions as well. 

PM Modi and Rajnath Singh also discussed futuristic challenges in the defence sector, equipping forces with modern equipment. Prior to his meeting with PM Modi, the Defence Minister met with officials and Air Force representatives to deliberate on a special policy pertaining to drones.

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