QRT: Armed, agile and ready for danger
Officials say that Quick Response Teams, set up after the attacks, give the city a strong first line of defenceUpdated: Nov 23, 2018 09:21 IST
In 2008, Mumbai Police’s Quick Response Team (QRT) was underthe Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) but had hardly fired a bullet. They were armed with riot control jackets, but could not offer a forceful defence when 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) terrorists rained AK-47 bullets on November 26, 2008.
Post the 26/11 terror attacks, the police department realised the need for a highly trained, motivated, young, fit and fully equipped team to tackle militant groups and to terminate hostage situations.
QRT was the answer.
The Ram Pradhan committee, which carried out the high-level inquiry into the response to the 26/11 attacks, concluded that Mumbai Police was incapable to thwarting such an attack, and directed the state to set up QRT commando units.
The state formed six QRT units in 2009, alongside Force One, Maharashtra’s elite commando unit. The QRT, previously under the ATS, now functions under the Mumbai police commissioner.
The basic concept behind setting up QRT units was to strengthen the first line of defence. Of the six QRT units formed, one unit was placed under each of the five additional commissioners of police handling their respective regions. One unit was kept on standby at the QRT headquarters. In contrast to 2008, when the QRT did not even have enough vehicles to counter terrorists during the attacks, they are now armed with state of the art weapons and have separate armoured vehicles to carry them.
During the 26/11 attacks terrorists entered the city from Badhwar Park, Cuffe Parade and spread in different directions in south Mumbai. “If we could have contained the attackers there, we would have minimised the damage to a very high extent. Realising this, QRT units were formed and will be the first respondent in such a contingency. They will be followed by Force One and then the National Security Guards (NSG),” a senior police officer said.
“With the elite commandos unit, QRT and others, our preparedness in comparison with 2008 has improved by many folds. Our response to such an attack would be much better now,” said former ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi.
QRT teams respond in the shortest time, move by the fastest means, take action to collect tactical information and neutralise the threat. They rescue hostages, render assistance to Central forces and other state forces on government duty.
“They are highly trained units with ultra-modern sophisticated arms and the response time to react at any adverse situation is between five to 10 minutes,” said another senior official.
The officer added that QRT commandos are trained to handle state of the art weapons, such as MP5 and AK-47 guns, besides Glock pistols. Every three months, jawans undergo a physical proficiency test (PPT). Constables below the age of 30 are selected to serve in the unit for five years. The personnel to be deployed as QRT commandos are handpicked, with top-class fitness, agility and aggression being the primary requisites.