To beef up security arrangements during the Simhastha festival in 2016, the Ujjain police will take the help of specially trained dogs.
Over 90 trained canines would be deployed during the world’s largest religious congregation as vigilantes to avert terror attacks — especially to detect explosives and track suspects.
The month-long festival is expected to record around 5 crore footfall and the security agencies are counting on these trained dogs to be their eyes and ears.
Of the 90 dogs, 60 would be trained as explosive specialists while the rest would be deployed as tracker specialists (sniffing the track of suspects).
The dogs were being trained at the Police Training Centre (Dogs) at Bhadbhada on the outskirts of Bhopal. Over a dozen three to four month old dogs could be seen disciplined by the police trainers in the centre and to strike a personal bond with them. The actual training of the puppies would begin only after they are six months old.
Twenty eight Labradors and German Shepherds too were being trained in a nearby ground in the centre. They were sniffing suitcases spread out in line on the ground with one of them containing an explosive packet. The dogs are trained in various categories including obedience, ground search, building search, luggage search, vehicle search, body search for narcotics and explosives, tracking, to overcome hurdles and so on.
“It is a huge responsibility to train dogs to ensure security in one of the world’s largest religious congregations which will be visited by crores of pilgrims. Of the 90, we have already bought 57 dogs incluing Labradors, German shepherds and Dobermans from Hyderabad. Each one of them costs around Rs 28,000 as puppies. Then we wait till they are six months old to start a nine-month training. Training of 28 dogs has already begun in January. Soon we will buy the rest of the dogs so that we can get all the 90 trained by March 2016,” says Ambika Prasad, platoon commander at the centre.
When asked where the dogs will be deployed after Simhastha, Prasad said at present there were 135 dogs serving in the state police’s dog squad.