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In a controversial move, the Haryana Police deployed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to disperse farmers protesting at the Shambhu Barrier on the Punjab-Haryana border. Farmers were seen throwing rocks at the drone dropping tear gas canisters, escalating tensions during the ongoing ‘Delhi Chalo’ agitation.

These UAVs, equipped with “Drone Tear Smoke Launchers,” offer a new tool for law enforcement. They can fire multiple tear gas canisters remotely, covering a range of 400-500 meters, and were introduced as a “force multiplier” during a Border Security Force meeting in 2022. Their ability to disperse large crowds quickly raises concerns about potential misuse and excessive force.

The farmers, led by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, are demanding a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) for crops and loan waivers. This agitation highlights the ongoing challenges faced by Indian farmers and their struggle for better livelihoods.

The use of drones against protesters raises ethical concerns about proportionality and the potential for injuries. The question remains whether this technology should be used in domestic crowd control situations, and if so, under what strict regulations and oversight.

The incident at Shambhu Barrier has reignited the debate on balancing security concerns with civil liberties and responsible use of technology in law enforcement. As authorities explore new tools for crowd control, careful consideration of their potential impact and adherence to ethical principles remain crucial.