Raw courage and loads of luck seemed to have carried the day for Punjab Police during the flush-out operation at the Dinanagar police station in Gurdaspur during the terror strike by ultras on Monday.
The brave Israel-trained Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team which was rushed to the police station were not wearing any protective gear (specifically designed for SWAT) and were completely ill-equipped to take on a situation like the one which had developed in the police station, risking their lives.
This was the first anti-terrorist operation in which the Punjab SWAT was deployed since it was commissioned four years ago.
None of the SWAT members wore bulletproof vests or helmets and barged into the police station to tackle the awaiting terrorists, donning black T shirts and uniform pants. The only saving grace was the highly sophisticated weapons that the Punjab SWAT teams had, including glocks and corner shots besides top-class snipers.
Sources said the team was trained only once, shortly after it was commissioned. They were trained for unarmed combat, offence and defence driving, tactical training and hold-up situations. But after the first training at Bahadurgarh Fort near Patiala another sustained training session was never held. No fresh gear was purchased for them, other than weapons.
Highly placed police officers said the entire exercise of having highly trained SWAT as part of the special security group (SSG) as was envisaged by former DGP PS Gill in 2009 seems to have been left midway. An ordinance passed by the state government that brought about the Punjab Special Security Group Act, 2010, in order to strengthen the SSG was never taken to the Vidhan Sabha for passing. It was allowed to lapse after six months.
The SWAT teams were then used for security purposes during the India-Pakistan match in March 2011 and during the visit of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Panjab University, Chandigarh, the next year. In November last year, they were also sent to the Attari border in Amritsar to provide additional security cover to the BSF following a blast on the Pakistani side of the integrated check post near Wagah.
The SWAT teams were created in 2011 following intelligence inputs that a host of Punjab politicians were on the hit list of Khalistani militant groups. The state government had deployed a private company, Athena Security, to get the team trained through Israeli experts spending Rs 1.5 crore on the training.