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Posted at: Jul 28, 2015, 2:14 AM; last updated: Jul 28, 2015, 1:41 AM (IST)

Baptism by fire for Punjab’s elite SWAT

The team

  • The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of the Punjab Police played a major role in neutralising terrorists that attacked the Dinanagar police station on Monday
  • This was the first-ever anti-terrorist operation of SWAT team since its inception in 2011
  • The unit consists of 80 highly trained elite commandos who are armed with sophisticated weapons and trained to strike with precision

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27

The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team (a hitherto unknown unit) of the Punjab Police formed around four years ago emerged hero in the operation against the terrorists who attacked Dinanagar police station today.

In fact, this happened to be the first-ever anti-terrorist operation of SWAT since its inception in 2011. The unit consists of about 80 highly trained elite commandos who are armed with better weapons and trained to strike with precision. It was the Punjab Police’ faith in this unit that refrained it from handing over the counter-terrorist operation to the Army.

DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, who directed the operation at Dinanagar, had overseen the conceptualisation and training of this elite unit. None of the unit members suffered any injury in the operation.

Luck played part in the deployment of the elite commandos for the operation, but they were deployed with a major hiccup. Twenty-eight of them were attending a joint training camp with the National Security Guard (NSG) in Amritsar district for the past few days. They were rushed to Dinanagar to take control of the situation.

As they were carrying light weapons for the training, they launched the initial operation with those weapons only. The assault with full might came after heavy weaponry was sent from Chandigarh.

Police sources said the SWAT unit’s training and tactical deployment was similar to the expertise of highly trained security forces. The police formed this unit as it wanted preparedness for any eventuality like today’s attack. It was one of the SWAT commandos who shot dead the first terrorist before the remaining two were killed in a grenade attack.

“We are fully equipped to handle such terror attack,” said a police official explaining why they did not let the Army control of the situation. “The genesis of SWAT is said to be in the Mumbai terror attack when it was felt that such a unit should be in place with the state police to combat terror attacks,” he added.

The police official, however, said the role of the Army in the operation was also to be acknowledged. “A small unit of the Army stationed atop a five-storey building helped immensely in the operation by firing regularly at the terrorists through their light machine guns. The Army provided a cover fire to the SWAT commandos that helped in completing the operation,” said a police official.


Help pours in from J-K

The J&K police rushed bulletproof vehicles to Punjab. "After receiving a request from the Punjab police, we sent bulletproof vehicles to them," DGP K Rajendra said, adding: "However, no police force from J&K, as reported wrongly in a section of media, was sent to assist the Punjab police." He said only bulletproof vehicles and jackets were dispatched to Punjab.

BSF steps up vigil; 7 trains cancelled

The BSF has stepped up vigil along the Indo-Pak border while the city police have been put on high alert. The Northern Railways cancelled seven trains on the Amritsar-Pathankot route and increased security on the railway bridges and railway stations in Punjab, HP and J&K. BSF DIG MF Farooqui said, "Special security measures were placed during the Beating Retreat ceremony.”

Pak violates ceasefire along IB

In a fresh truce violation, Pakistan opened small arms fire on the Indian forward posts in Arnia sub-sector of RS Pura sector in Jammu district on Monday. "Three rounds of small arms fire came from Pakistani side around 11am today in Arnia sub sector. The BSF didn't retaliate as it was not targeted and seemed to be a routine one," said a BSF officer. 

High alert sounded across country

A high alert has been sounded across the country, including Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand. In the National Capital, the police beefed up security at busy public places and markets. Security was especially stepped up at railway stations and deployment of policemen has been strengthened further. In Punjab, a police officer said 'maximum alert' has been sounded across the state.

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