The focus would primarily be on targeting militants that are hiding in forest or buildings which are away from residential localities.
New Delhi: In what may well mark a major tactical shift in its fight against terror, the government is considering using drones in targeting militants, particularly in the Kashmir Valley and Northeast.
Top government sources confirmed to this newspaper that the move was currently being discussed among the ministries of home and defence and office of the national security adviser.
Sources said the security agencies operating in these militancy infested areas are of the opinion that based on specific intelligence inputs, “limited use of drones’’ can prove to be extremely effective in flushing out militants, particularly from hideouts where possibility of loss of human life is much higher.
The issue is still being thoroughly debated at the highest level as the Centre wants to ensure that no innocent lives are lost when drones are pressed into service during an anti-terror operation. There is a possibility, sources said, that the government may give the go ahead on use of drones in a phased manner to assess its impact.
“There is a view that first security forces like BSF, CRPF and Army could be allowed to use drones in the Valley but with stringent guidelines as to protect civilians and residential areas.
The focus would primarily be on targeting militants that are hiding in forest or buildings which are away from residential localities. If the experiment in Valley proves successful, it would also be extended to hit at militant hideouts in the northeast,’’ a senior security official said. Recently, the Centre had allowed the elite National Security Guards to use drones in their counter terror operations. But unlike other security forces, NSG conducts only specific operations as was witnessed during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and storming of the Pathankot Air Force base. At present, security forces are using drones in Naxal-infested areas but these are primarily to track movements.