Drones to keep an eye on crowded places during the festivalsPolice ask Valley residents not to share their travel plans on social media. Say such information could give ideas to criminals.
In a bid to prevent untoward incidents during the upcoming festivals—Dashain, Tihar and Chhath—police in Kathmandu Valley have announced various measures ranging from mobile household surveillance to flying drones over crowded marketplaces.
According to Senior Superintendent Dinesh Raj Mainali of District Police Range Kathmandu, a total of 3,343 police personnel will be deployed in the Valley starting from Ghatasthapana (September 26), which marks the beginning of the 15-day Dashain festival.
Nepal Police plans on flying drones over the capital’s major business districts including New Road, New Bus Park, and Kalanki. It has also asked the public to inform a nearby police station if they are leaving the capital for Dashain by locking their homes.
“We will also fly drones in the crowded areas to prevent incidents of pickpocketing and snatching,” said Mainali.
The Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office estimates that over 2.2 million people will leave the Valley to celebrate Dashain festival this year. For the past two years, due to the Covid pandemic, very few people left the Valley during Dashain. Traffic police reports show that as many as 600,000 people had left the Valley for Dashain last year, up from 300,000 in 2020.
“We request the public not to publish information of their planned journeys or plans on social media, as this may give clues to burglars,” said Mainali. Also, police have asked the public to inform their trusted neighbours if they are leaving the Valley, and dial 100 if they notice suspicious activities in their area.
Security experts have welcomed the plan to fly drones in crowded areas and reiterated the police calls for families leaving the capital for Dashain to avoid sharing their travel plans on social media.
“These measures will deter those with criminal mindsets,” said Hemanta Malla, a former deputy inspector general.
Besides, the Kathmandu Police has also announced plans to deploy plainclothes officers round-the-clock across the City during the major festivals.
Security personnel on foot, bicycles, motorbikes and vehicles will patrol the Valley’s roads during the festivals.
Local representatives in Kathmandu, however, are not fully convinced about the announcement. “Police announce these things every year, but many crimes still take place,” said Rajesh Dangol, chairperson of Ward 25. “What will work better is for the people leaving their homes to request their neighbours to keep vigil in their absence,” said Dangol.
Dangol appreciated the drone idea though. “This new idea might work,” he said.
Nepal Police has already started an awareness campaign on social media through Metro Traffic FM. It has also announced plans to increase CCTV surveillance of the Valley.
The Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office and the Department of Transport Management have already set up 14 help desks across the Valley to help people leaving Kathmandu for Dashain.
The desks will provide information on ticket prices and address passenger complaints.