India’s elite counter-terrorist force, the National Security Guard (NSG), has undergone considerable upgrade since 26/11.
A new NSG hub each in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad, far better response time, new weapons and equipment — the country’s strike force is better equipped to handle a terror attack like the one in Mumbai in November last year.
Two regional centres — in Hyderabad and Kolkata — are also being set up. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram showed keen interest in upgrading the capabilities of the country’s elite force after the 26/11 attacks.
“Based on our experience during the 26/11 attacks, we have been fast upgrading the quality of our manpower and training. We are also in the process of acquiring sophisticated weapons and equipment to meet any challenge in future,” said NSG director general N.P.S. Aulakh.
Last November, a group of terrorists travelled through the sea route from Pakistan to Mumbai and started killing people.
The NSG was called in but the force reached Mumbai almost 10 hours after the attacks started.
“We can reach anywhere in big cities within half an hour. The force is fully prepared,” the NSG chief said.
The elite force, set up after Operation Bluestar in 1984 on the model of German elite commando force, GSG-9, is acquiring night sights; multi-grenade launchers; mini-remotely operated vehicles for surveillance inside aircraft, trains, buildings and ships; and radars that can help commandos see through a wall and find out what is going on in a room without entering it.
While the total containment vehicle (container for defusing bombs) being bought by the NSG can contain a bomb blast of 8 kg of high explosives, laser-aiming pistols can help the commandos strike at the targets with precision.
The force — 14,500-strong specialised men with the mandate to carry out anti-hijacking and counter-terrorist operations — is exploring possibilities to acquire more skills. A team comprising top home ministry officials and the NSG chief visited Germany early this month to interact with GSG-9. “They have offered training to NSG commandos. We are finalising a proposal for the home ministry’s clearance,” Aulakh told Hindustan Times soon after his return from Germany.
An offer made by the French elite anti-terrorist force GIGN (National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) to provide training to NSG commandos on a reciprocal basis was also being considered, he added.
The force is also prepared to deal with train and metro hijackings. But is the force prepared psychologically to tackle serious threats? “We are as good as the best strike force in the world,” Aulakh added.