Tuesday, September 28, 2021

In a first, Tamil Nadu police use UAV in murder probe



CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu police are believed to be the first force in the country to use an unmanned aerial vehicle in a murder investigation. It used a drone to inspect the area where a 23-year-old software engineer with Tata Consultancy Serviceswas found murdered in Siruseri along the city’s IT Corridor.

The CB-CID on Sunday and Monday conducted sorties with an unmanned aerial vehicle over the scene of crime — a largely inaccessible area covered in thick brush — looking for clues to solve the slaying of Uma Maheswari. Investigators discovered the techie’s body on Saturday, nine days after she went missing from her office on February 13, barely 200 metres from the TCS facility.

Investigators said they would use footage from the drones to search for evidence left behind by Uma’s killers and make a 3D image of the location to help reconstruct the crime scene.

he Tamil Nadu police have in the past used UAVs to track illegal granite mining in Madurai and for crowd control on at least two occasions, during the Thevar Guru Puja last October and last September in Paramakudi, on the anniversary of anti-caste discrimination icon Immanuel Sekaran’s death.

Experts say other police forces have used UAVs for surveillance and crowd management. “But they have not been reported to have used the remote controlled mini-aircraft to study a crime scene to collect evidence,” said assistant professor in aerospace engineering, Madras Institute of Technology K Senthil Kumar. “The Tamil Nadu police chief, DGP K Ramanujam, is responsible for the force’s using drones.” Senthil Kumar said the DGP pushed for the government to acquire three drones at a cost of Rs 90 lakh.”

Senthil Kumar and his PhD and MS students from MIT rushed to the Sipcot premises in Siruseri near Kelambakkam on the request of the police. “We took a couple of drones with us. The police officers instructed to fly the drones over a 1sqkm area around the crime scene,” an MIT student said.

Senthil Kumar and the students used two different drones for the surveillance, a 1.5 kg UAV on Sunday and a larger, 10kg UAV on Monday.

“We gave police around 6 hours of footage of the area. The investigators will be able to zoom in and identify evidence left by the assailants,” another member of the MIT team said. We hope it will help them crack the case.”