Eagles have landed
By: Chandran Iyer
Force one state's elite commando team arrives in city after seven months of intensive training to secure citizens in run up to 26/11|
After seven months of intensive training, Maharashtra's elite anti-terror commando unit is now in the city marking time till the anniversary of 26/11.
Force One has just one mission to secure the city and ensure the security pitfalls last year do not reoccur and, thereby, prevent a repeat of 26/11 or similar others.
Part of the contingent of the 150-strong force, set up as an alternative to the National Security Guard, reached Mumbai yesterday, while the rest will arrive today.
The task before the force now is to identify sensitive installations, study the building plans, familiarise themselves with the approach roads, sea routes (if at all) and airports.
Ready, Aim, Fire: Force One comandos in action in Pune.
Chiranjeev Prasad, Commandant of Force One said, "The boys have undergone intense training and they are highly skilled.
More importantly, they are motivated, and capable of undertaking any anti-terror operations."
Said Prakash Singh, former DGP BSF, "The NSG model is ideal for tackling terrorism, but the men should not be used for VIP security, as it affects the morale of the force.
They are meant to tackle terror, not guard politicians."
Though Prasad did not elaborate on the mistakes made during 26/11, the reference obviously was that the NSG did not have maps or the building plans of the Taj or the Trident, which hampered rescue operations, as they did not know their way around.
On the other hand, the terrorists holed up at both the hotels, knew their way around after studying the building plans.
Senior officers refused to spell out which buildings they would be specifically studying, but a commando indicated they could be the Bombay stock exchange, state legislature, Secretariat and similar buildings.
Deputy Superintendent of Police of Force One B S Kendre, who worked for 13 years in the Naxalite-affected Gadchiroli area in Maharashtra, added, "The boys have undergone training from policemen involved in anti-Naxal operations as well as former NSG officials who have been directly involved in tackling terrorists.
Hand them to us
Rajendra Ganpatrao Kamble, a beat cop at Badhwar Park near Cuffe Parade, where the 10 men landed, is itching to pull the trigger on a terrorist.
Kamble was given an award of Rs 25,000 by the government for his quick thinking.
"I had informed the Girgaum control room about the Skoda that Qasab and his accomplice Abu Ismail were in, which led to their interception," he said.
Another commando is Santosh Subalkar, who was sub inspector at the Gamdevi police station in Mumbai and involved in the rescue operations at Oberoi Hotel.
"Having received the training we are confident of thwarting any terror attempts," he said.
Force One will be of immense help for the whole of Maharashtra, as it will be equivalent to the NSG. They will not be deployed on a day-to-day basis, but will be used as a special force to counter terrorists.
Their counter terrorism skills will be continuously updated and upgraded and since they will be based in Mumbai they can be requisitioned any time
Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandan
Vijay Pingale, a police inspector with Force One said the training was gruelling. "If terrorists like Qasab and his associates managed to survive on dry fruits for days together, these commandoes are no less.
In fact, they are better trained. They have been trained in a forest in Pune and can now remain in a nearly stationary position for more than 27 hours. They can survive on just dry fruits, berries and leaves."
The men have been trained using AK-47s, Glock pistols and other sophisticated weapons, and can shoot to kill in minimum light, said DSP, Force One, B S Kendre.
The inclusion of several policemen who were part of the 26/11 rescue operations has also given the commandoes an advantage, as they can familiarise themselves with the locations.