The sight of slothful, pot-bellied policemen in the Indian capital hardly makes the public feel safe. But now at least 10 constables at each police station here will be turned into commandos and equipped with AK-47 assault rifles to counter terror strikes.
Stung by the 26/11 Mumbai attack, Delhi Police have decided to transform into a fitter, fighting force.
"In order to make available a group of constables who are physically fit and well trained in the handling of weapons, a 10-day module has been prepared for constables at police stations," said Joint Commissioner of Police S. Nithiyanandam.
"Its emphasis is upon improving physical fitness and intensive weapon training and firing practice. The course will continue till at least 10 constables of each police station are trained in the module," Nithiyanandam added.
Delhi Police have 11 districts - divided into 133 police stations that provide security cover to a population of nearly 17 million. The force has a strength of 60,000 personnel and more than half of them serve as constables.
Police sources said the course took off in December last year, especially after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes that saw bloodbath for nearly 60 hours. Over 170 people lost their lives.
"The first batch of 110 constables have received training and another started Monday. We have chosen only fit constables for this training and they will be pressed into service first in case of any hostile situation," a top Delhi Police official told IANS.
"All these constables are preferably below 30. After they finish their training they will be equipped with weapons like AK-47 and MP5 machine guns," the official said.
The official said Delhi Police are buying more AK-47 and MP5 machine guns that are used by law enforcement agencies and military across the country due to their accuracy, reliability and a wide range of attachments and variants.
Nithiyanandam said in order to meet the requirement of well-trained commandos, particularly on the occasions of Republic Day, Independence Day and major festivals, they have designed another training module of 45 days.
"The first training course of 100 constables for 45 days has been started in mid-December with the aim of improving their strength and stamina, intensive weapon training practice, knowledge of explosive, raid on hostile hideouts and modules on rescue operations," he added.
"This training module would continue till a large reserve of commandos is trained," he added.
He said they were also planning to give the same training to all probationary sub-inspectors in batches of 75 immediately after completion of their basic training.
Apart from a series of anti-terror measures, Delhi Police have redesignated the inspector, law and order, at each police station as the inspector (Anti-Terrorist Operation). The station house officer (SHO) has been assigned the additional duty of law and order.
The inspector (Anti-Terrorist Operation) will be responsible for beat patrolling and the Eyes and Ears scheme.