India: City police to use pepper-spray drones

An Indian police office runs towards a crowd with his baton Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police say the drones will be more effective than batons in tackling "unruly mobs"

Police in one Indian city plan to use drones armed with pepper spray to disperse unruly crowds, it's reported.

The police force in Lucknow, the capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state, has bought a set of drones which can each lift 2kg (4.4lb) in weight, the Indian Express reports. "We are planning to use these drones to control unruly mobs by showering them with pepper spray," Senior Supt Yashasvi Yadav is quoted as saying. The method will be "less harsh" than a baton charge, he says, and police are hoping it will also be more effective. Drones are already used elsewhere in the state for aerial surveillance, but they haven't been used for crowd control before, the report adds.

While some social media users commenting on the story think it's a good investment, others say it will just make people try to knock the drones out of the sky. The idea "needs more thought", says one person writing on the Times of India website, who adds that the drones will need to fly relatively low to target the pepper spray, and could end up being damaged. Others are concerned that the tactic will be indiscriminate. "Is using pepper powder on a mob, even if unruly, within the law?" asks one user. "Moreover, this showering of pepper can affect others in the locality or passers-by who are not part of the 'unruly mob'."

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