‘Z’ security challenge : The Tribune India

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‘Z’ security challenge

‘Z’ security challenge

Photo for representation. File photo



Brig Sandeep Thapar (Retd)

A few months after my promotion to a flag rank in the Army, I was allotted the Pune brigade. As it was located next to the Southern Command headquarters, I assumed that this would be a challenging appointment.

Soon, I reached Pune and took over. Knowing the operational area and the units was the key to a successful command. I got on with the job. While one of the units in my brigade was from the Sikh regiment (my own regiment) and relatively easy to identify with, the other two were from the illustrious Maratha and Mahar regiments. The Mahar battalion was on its way out: the Maratha unit was midway through its tenure. During my first visit, the Maratha CO informed me that his unit would be celebrating its Golden Raising Day the following year. Incidentally, the Corps Commander was not only from the same regiment but also the same unit — and this complicated matters. He was a simple man with few requirements but would find fault with the most inconsequential things. Suddenly, the event acquired a bigger stature.

For such occasions, normally all officers of the unit are invited, in addition to officers from a local formation. Any special invitee is approved by the Colonel of the Regiment (COR, the seniormost officer of the regiment), if senior to him. One fine day close to the event, the Maratha CO informed me that Gen KS Brar (retd) had conveyed his desire to attend the Raising Day, and the COR had approved it.

Gen Brar (aka Bulbul Brar) commanded the forces in Operation Blue Star. He had ‘Z’ security and there were protocols to be followed during his visits. Soon, I got instructions from higher HQ that my formation would be responsible for his security during the visit. Since my Mahar battalion had moved out on turnover and its replacement unit was yet to arrive, and with Maratha battalion involved in its event, I allotted the task to the Sikh unit.

Preparations commenced till one day I got a call from the Colonel (Intelligence) of the Command HQ. He came straight to the point. ‘Do you know why Gen Brar has Z-category protection, sir?’ I wanted to tell him that I was handling the turmoil during that turbulent post-Blue Star period at an isolated post in the North-East when he was still a kid, but all I said was ‘I do’. Then, he said: ‘And yet you have made a Sikh unit responsible for his protection’.

In reply, I asked him: ‘Do you know which unit has been responsible for Gen Brar’s security at his Mumbai residence for the past two years?’

‘It is the garrison battalion, sir,’ he said.

‘And do you know which is that garrison battalion?’

‘No, sir.’

‘It is a Sikh battalion,’ I said, ending the conversation.


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