Home India News India’s own Special Forces to counter insurgents, terror

India’s own Special Forces to counter insurgents, terror

By Rahul Vaishnavi, IANS,

New Delhi : It was set up as a specialised training camp in the hills of Uttarakhand around two years ago with a mission to establish a force to take on Maoists and other insurgents. With government sanction given last month, the school is now set to take on special tasks in counter-terror operations as well.

The Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) was a self-funded training camp until it was formally sanctioned by Home Minister P. Chidambaram May 6, 2011, for the exceptional and state-of-the-art training it was providing.

Located at an altitude of 6,350 feet in Mahidanda, in the heart of the tough Himalayan terrains, it is also one of the highest training camps in the country, according to the ITBP.

“The school was established visualising sensitive internal security duties. The government sanction is a proud achievement for us. It recognises our state-of-the-art training syllabus,” ITBP public relations officer Deepak Pandey told IANS.

A mountain trained force, the ITBP is deployed from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Diphu La in Arunachal Pradesh covering 3,488 km manning border outposts at altitudes ranging from 9,000 to 18,500 feet in the western, central and eastern sectors of the India-China border.

The force has its presence in a number of states, including Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and northeastern states that include Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh which is claimed by the Chinese.

Most of the personnel are professionally trained mountaineers and skiers and have been carrying out numerous rescue and relief operations in the Himalayas.

According to the ITBP, the school primarily focusses on professionally training the new entrants in the force as well as orienting serving personnel deployed in various areas to handle counter-insurgency and jungle warfare operations.

“However, if the need arose, the grueling and modern training session is sufficient to enable the trained commandos to tackle terror strikes or carry out special operations with absolute elan,” said Pandey.

The comprehensive training includes handling of special equipment, rock craft, unarmed combat, special operations in rural and urban environment and guerrilla warfare.

“We also provide ‘night training’ to give candidates practice under real life situations. It is one of our most significant aspects of training,” Pandey said.

Besides preparing the junior cadre for varying situations, the school gives key emphasis on physical and mental conditioning, developing reflexes and enhancing quick and effective firing skills.

Higher ranked officers are also trained here, said Pandey. The syllabus and the course module differ according to seniority.

“The school constantly reviews the course outline to include all possible training methodologies. The idea is to make the training realistic and updated as far as future operations are concerned,” said Pandey.

The tremendous success the camp has received in just two years is a major source of encouragement for the ITBP – especially the response and positive feedback from the various police forces that trained here.

Around 60 personnel from the Meghalaya Police were trained here last year for a period of one month followed by around 50 personnel from Uttarakhand.

Haryana Police received special commando training here, Pandey said.

“Recently we concluded a training camp for the Railway Protection Force (RPF). It was a month-long course where 58 security personnel were trained,” said Pandey.

Maoist insurgency has spread in recent years to rural central and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

Rebel attacks have claimed over 10,000 lives, including those of civilians and security personnel, in the last five years.

Out of a total of 10,268 casualties between 2005 and May 2010, 2,372 deaths have been reported in 2009 as against 1,769 in 2008 and 1,737 in 2007, according to an official report.

(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at [email protected])