Calm, stable, strong and fearless is what an elite commando force would require its recruits to be. But at the Force 1, the elite counter terrorism unit formed in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks, these parameters are of little consideration.
While Special Forces and counter-terrorism units across the world recruit personnel after a gruelling selection process, an intense training programme, and a psychological examination, at the Force 1, it is the candidate’s willingness to work and a background check that counts. The training to wield, dismantle and assemble a weapon and training to the use explosives are made available after the recruitment, said police sources.
The lax recruitment procedure, and negligible stress on the psychological, psychiatric and aptitude tests came to the fore after 25-year-old Nandlal Sonawane’s suicide on Friday.
Sonawane had been in depression for the last few days, police said. But his condition was not brought notice to his superiors, neither was a psychiatrist available to speak to him, sources said.
This is in stark contract with international standards. ““At each level the candidate is closely monitored, and if any signs of overt aggression, hostility, inability to work in a team, or other undesirable characteristics are spotted, the candidate is immediately removed from the course,” said a Special Forces officer.
“If you think Force 1 is on par with the SWAT in the US, it’s a misconception. We would take at least 25 years to reach that level,” said an IPS officer who once served with the commando unit.
Sanjeev Dayal, Maharashtra director general of police, said: “To conduct psychological profiling, we need to have the right parameters to assess. Also, the force is too young to be subjected to psychological profiling.”
Ajay Sahni, executive director, Institute of Conflict Management said, “We do not have the expertise for a psychological evaluation, which too is not foolproof.”