Across the world, Quick Reaction Teams (QRT) are elite crack squads equipped with anti-terror experts, bulletproof vehicles and hi-tech weaponry -- the first to tackle any emergency or terror-related incidents.
In Delhi, they exist -- but just for the sake of it.
Delhi’s QRT vehicle is usually a Maruti Gypsy or an old Ambassador car outsourced from private cab companies. And, the men driving these vehicles are not police officers. They work for the cab firms.
During a recent meeting of intelligence agencies, many senior officers demanded that trained police personnel should be part of QRTs.
A senior officer said a Dhaka-like siege could be disastrous for Delhi.
In parts of Connaught Place and India Gate, Delhi Police have deployed trained commandos in SWAT bullet- and blast-proof-vehicles. But the rest of the city has to rely on these private vehicles.
The Delhi Police have only three SWAT vehicles with snipers and trained commandos. And they are posted only in parts of New Delhi.
Police sources said intelligence officers discussed the state of the ORTs last month. “If there is an attack in a hotel or school in south Delhi or Delhi University’s north campus, they have no option but to depend on these vehicles.
“In the meeting, we discussed if a civilian can drive to an area infiltrated by terrorists. The driver is not trained because he is not a policeman. Every Delhi police driver has graduated from the Police Training College. He knows how to handle firearms. Any attack will expose this loophole in the security apparatus,” said a senior officer.
Only four people man ORT vehicles
The QRT vehicles were first approved by the ministry of home affairs after the Mumbai 26\11 attacks in 2008. The idea was to set up a team that would be the first to rush to a crime scene. In Delhi, only three policemen from the security unit man these vehicles.
“Fortunately, we have not had a major terror attack in Delhi since the 2008 serial blasts. The day terrorists strike any place other than New Delhi area, it will be a disaster. How can three police officers and a civilian be the first responders,” said a senior officer.
Every police station has at least one QRT assigned to it. In police stations such as Tughlaq Road, Connaught Place, Tilak Marg – mostly those in Lutyens’ Delhi – there are more than one QRT vehicles.
In most police stations, the policemen posted in the QRT are not trained anti-terror officers. They are brought from the local police or security unit.