Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Police to raise elite anti-terror unit

24 Jun 2009, 0501 hrs IST, TNN

KOLKATA: The operation against the Maoists in Lalgarh has come in handy for Kolkata Police, which was keen on raising a specialized unit after the
26/11 attacks in Mumbai . With chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee clearing the proposal for the Combatant Force, the city police is now gearing up to set up its new wing, which will handle not just terror attacks but Naxals as well.

For combating terror attacks , the city police had earlier formed the Special Action Force (SAF), trained for action in urban zones with minimum casualties among civilians. But after the Mumbai attacks, the city police wanted an even stronger force. State home department sources said SAF could be merged with the new force.

"After 26/11, most cities, especially metros, have started raising such an elite force. Even the union home ministry wanted all city police units to have specialized units," a senior officer said. A proposal for the new force was submitted more than six months back.

SAF has a strength of 800-odd men, with training by the army. The Specially Trained Armed Company (Straco) was trained in jungle warfare and specifically used for combating Maoist attacks. Straco, which was raised by the state police for tackling the Maoist menace, has met with limited success. Sources said this was largely because of restrictions imposed by the administration in chasing down Maoists.

The new force that the state government has planned will be some notches higher than the existing one. Apart from SAF, the city police has raised another unit - Special Task Force (STF) - which is involved in anti-sabotage operations.

"The STF's role is more of information gathering, antisabotage and arrests. Action will be done by the new force," a senior officer of Kolkata Police said.

The Combatant Force will work under STF. The force will be trained at Wairangate, Mizoram , which is the training ground for the Indian Army.

Unlike SAF, the Combatant Force will be trained in jungle warfare.

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