Maharashtra’s elite commando force, Force One, began its first day at work on Tuesday with mock drills, an induction ceremony, a parade, and a few fainting spells.
Even as Chief Minister Ashok Chavan inducted the first batch in a ceremony held at the State Reserve Police Force grounds in Goregaon and vouched for the capability of the 216 “highly trained” men, it happened: One after the other, four commandos collapsed.
The first commando fainted around 11 am, after standing for two hours, while the state’s director general of police, A.N. Roy, was delivering a motivational speech.
He was quickly moved to a makeshift room that had just been used by the commandos clad in dark blue overalls and maroon beret caps to showcase counter-terror techniques.
Over the next 45 minutes, three more commandos fainted and were carried away.
These commandos are said to be trained to operate in extreme conditions, on the lines of the National Security Guards, to tackle 26/11-like situations.
“In a parade when one has to stand in a still position for so long, it takes a toll on the body. It is a physiological condition that can happen to anybody,” Roy said.
Not everyone agrees. “It is surprising,” said former NSG chief J.K. Dutt. “I believe the function would not have lasted for over two hours, which is not too long a time for a commando to stand in a parade. Also, the temperature in Mumbai is not very high.”
According to Dutt, if you call someone a commando, “he has to be physically and mentally strong to go through the grind”.