India’s police to get American 3D technology, weaponry boost

New Delhi: India’s long-standing ambition of massive police modernisation with sophisticated weaponry and hi-tech systems has received a major boost after a US pledge to transfer 3D technology and other devices.

Home ministry sources say India is looking to acquire the latest 3D imagery technology from the US and make it available for young officers at the Indian Police Service (IPS) training institute, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA) in Hyderabad.

“After getting the latest technology, the police academy will have a library of 3D images of vital installations which are potential terror targets. This will help train special police commandos to deal with the hostage situation in buildings,” an official said.

Home ministry sources say the India-US security dialogue last month between Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has boosted India’s police modernisation plan.

India plans to better equip its more than 1.5-million strong state police forces and over 750,000 personnel of paramilitary organisations like the Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

The official said when terrorists were holed up inside the Taj hotel in Mumbai in the November 2008 attack that claimed 166 lives, security forces became “lame duck targets” because they were moving in the corridors without any knowledge of the building.

“The 3D image of the building could have given them the building plan and they would have moved inside the hotel strategically knowing exactly where terrorists are and from where they could be targeted,” he said.

The weaponry expected to be bought from the US and some other Western nations include laser range finders, modern global positioning system (GPS) devices, latest thermal imagers and 3D imaging warfare technology, according to the sources.

The 3D technology that uses helicopters or remote piloted vehicles is a modern imagery system that can capture images of an area – in a forest or any building – occupied by guerrillas like terrorists had done in Mumbai by occupying the Taj Mahal Hotel.

The system provides a tactical advantage by enabling the rapid generation and production of highly detailed three-dimensional maps of any area.

Talking about the weaponry to be bought from the US, sources said they were looking at close-combat weapons of less than 50 m range, assault weapons from 50 to 100 m range and long-range weapons that cover a range of cover 500 m and beyond.

The sources said India is also looking at a regular police training exchange programme to learn from each other’s experiences in fighting terror, hostage negotiation and investigating bomb attacks.

The police modernisation is part of the sweeping reforms of India’s security apparatus, first recommended by an experts group in 2000 following the Kargil conflict with Pakistan in 1999.

Ironically, the plan has not taken off because of an “incompetent bureaucracy”, according to Ajay Sahni, a known security expert.

“With or without America, we should have upgraded our security apparatus long ago. We have enough in-house resources to do that. We have not been able to upgrade because of the incompetent bureaucracy who are not well-versed with technology and are corrupt,” Sahni, executive director of the South Asia Terrorism Portal, said.

He said the country needed police upgrade 10 years ago because of the worsening internal security and growing terror trouble in the neighbourhood.

“You cannot afford laxity in security… It is a necessity of the country. We have been destroyed by the sheer weight of our leadership and the system.” By Sarwar Kashani