“The Brave Heart”
A 70 kilometre drive from Tezpur to Bhairav Kund in Udalguri, under the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) maybe a bumpy one but the lush green scenic beauty all makes the journey an aesthetic treat. This serene area, nearby the triangular border, reverberates an eeriness that stems from the brutal killings the place has witnessed which has triggered fear amongst the local populace and wrecked their livelihood. Fortunately, keeping a close watch over them to ensure their safety is the Sashastra Seema Bal.
(Stationed in the triangular border of Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Nepal is the 23rd battalion of SSB Greenland Lalpool. Along with them is also a special force – the Dog squad)
Heading towards the 23 battalion SSB Greenland Lalpool, one can notice not just the Jawans or in other words security personnel guarding the border area of Indo and Bhutan, Indo- Nepal but working along with these security forces is a unique force of vigilant soldiers – the Dog squad. These are highly trained and skilled dogs who act as the Jawans’ alert and robust helpers lending their special trait in various search operations such as sniffing any explosive devices planted in the area, drugs, if any, smuggled through the Indo- Bhutan border, trekking trespassers or any suspicious persons as well as help in finding lost goods and devices.
“We have 40 dogs deployed in this frontier in places like Kokrajhar, Dadgiri and Sonapur to name a few and they are generally deployed in vulnerable areas where there is more of ultra infiltration and narcotics,” informs SSB IGP AK Negi. “Breeds like Alsatians and Labradors are recruited in the squad,” he adds.
Dr KS Singh, Assistant Commander Vet talks about the professional training every dog is put through to become a part of the squad. “These dogs are highly trained; so much that they can conveniently be referred to as Jawans in form of dogs,” he says. “Just like the Jawans, they have operational duties too. These trained dogs accompany the security personnel to the Border outpost (BOP) areas to keep track of any untoward activities taking place along the border,” he states.
Trespassing in the country, carrying illegal arms or explosives; these dogs are quick and agile to detect and spot any such activity. More so, the dogs also have specialised training for different catergories, e.g. some are specifically trained to detect crude bombs, while other the lot specialise in narcotics and some others are tracker specialists.
“Once they undergo training in Dog Training Centre located at Alwar Rajasthan, these dogs come out as designated security personnel and specialists in areas like crude bomb, narcotics, explosives or tracking,” mentions Singh. “In our camp we have three explosives device specialist and one narcotics specialist too.” he adds.
To keep these specialised dogs active and fit in terms of memory and other skills, there is a training ground. Just like the Armed forces who always have a plan scheduled before going out for any major operations or regular patrolling, the dog squads too have organised schedules to follow before carrying out their operations.
“We conduct training programmes like grand search operations where we bury something in the ground and command them to find it. Then we also have obstacle race where we put hurdles for them to cross on command. We also hide explosives inside buildings or vehicles which they search for. These training are done on a regular basis to keep them fit and ready to execute during times of operations,” informs Singh.
Apart from their various skills, these special dog squad also work as important security forces as they are often taken for many important occasions which include Independence day, Republic day or the visit of the Chief Minister or any union minister.
These dogs also have a sharp understanding of who their real master is and show their loyalty only to him and are prone to show their feral sides to any other suspicious being. Singh informed, “Once they are doubtful of any person they are trained to launch an attack.”