The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Foolproof radio sets for police
- Assam 3rd state to order 800-MHz gadgets

Guwahati, March 31: Assam police will procure state-of-the-art 800-MHz digital trunking radios (DTRs) to prevent interception of their wireless messages by militant groups.

Assam will be the third state in the country, after Delhi and Andhra Pradesh, to have these super-frequency digital radio sets. The police department is likely to get the sets by the end of this year.

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, has prepared a blueprint to execute the DTR project. Four base stations will be set up, of which two will be located in the hills in and around the city to facilitate reception and transmission of messages beyond Guwahati. A single base station, with four “carriers” each, can be connected to eight channels.

A senior police official said the project would initially be executed for the Greater Guwahati areas. As many as 74 officials will be given the radio sets, based on their seniority and the priority of their portfolios.

“The network will be gradually extended across the state. The project is part of the Assam police modernisation process. Over Rs 30 crore is required to execute the project,” the official said.

The communication systems available with the police now do not guarantee interception-free transmission of wireless messages. However, a third party cannot intercept a conversation that is facilitated by DTRs.

“The DTR is a wonderful tool. It will be most beneficial during emergencies, when exchange of information between police personnel is crucial. Police officials can connect with their subordinates through DTRs without waiting a second,” a source said.

The Union home ministry has given its nod to the proposal to procure this communication system. A ministry official said Assam police had been selected as the third force to be equipped with DTRs because of high militant activity in the state and the difficult geographical terrain.

In February, a committee headed by additional director-general of police (administration) Sankar Baruah arranged for a technical presentation and demonstration of DTR technology by two wireless communication firms.

The police initially planned to set up one base station with three repeaters, but the committee later decided to go in for multiple base stations with an eye on the possible future requirements of the force.

Inspector-general of police (communication) P.M. Dastidar said the police headquarters would directly execute the DTR project. He said the situation in Assam necessitated “watertight” communication options, but declined to divulge anything more.

Security forces deployed in the insurgency-ravaged Northeast, particularly Assam, have always been handicapped by the leakage of crucial security-related information to militants. Most militant groups possess equipment that can intercept messages exchanged between police officials and security agencies through wireless communication gadgets, particularly walkie-talkies.

On why the police department was procuring a hi-tech communication system such as DTR at a time when militancy is supposed to be ebbing, a senior official said the Ulfa and the NDFB were far from finished. “Their capabilities are intact and with some neighbouring countries continuing to shelter militants, it will take a while for us to eliminate militancy.”

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