Ongole (Andhra Pradesh), Oct 2 (IANS) Amid rising security challenges in the country, intensifying radicalisation and communal sentiments, Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, one of the first in India, has carried out an anti-terror exercise to enhance it preparedness.
“With the rising communal sentiments and radicalization of youth, police should have the capacity to undertake high risk anti-terror operations to serve and protect the citizens,” Prakasam district superintendent of police (SP) Siddharth Kaushal told IANS.
Ongole town is 152 km south west of Vijayawada.
He said the district police should not wait for special forces to arrive from faraway hubs in crucial scenarios such as urban warfare and high-risk operations.
Raised and deployed in the district by Kaushal, the SWAT team has completed a year, aimed at undertaking high risk operations which the normal district police cannot do.
As part of their training, the SWAT team has been regular conducting reconnaissance operations, recces and real life firing even during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The urban warfare specialist team finds even more relevance at a time when communal politics are finding their way into the state, which has been immune to such religious politics until now, being a beacon of communal harmony.
“Our SWAT team has gone around important places in the district, like the Bhiaravakonda temple and Ravi Priya mall. We have done recces and studied all the entry and exit points. Every week our team goes and conducts reconnaissance of all these potential targets,” he said.
The SP said it is important for the district police to have some capacity to respond to situations, rather than completely depending on experts to arrive.
He cited the example of 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai when the police department was brought to its knees for lack of urban warfare experts like a SWAT team.
Though the London SWAT was raised after the 2005 tube bombings, he said it was not used much but there needs to be a team on standby for incidents which may occur in a generation or five or 10 years.
Kaushal reminded that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested Islamic State (IS) terrorists in the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and also the masterminds of serial bomb blasts in Hyderabad.
In 2013, a terrorist was nabbed during a pilgrimage in Tirupati.
Amid these kinds of developments, Kaushal reviewed the preparedness of the SWAT team, and gave them instructions on how to deal with situations such as hijacks, attacks on religious structures, bomb situations and others.
He demonstrated advanced firing techniques at Chimakurti firing range to the SWAT commandos.
The team has also equipped themselves with special training in room intervention, counter-ambush and disaster response management, including the Israeli martial art Krav Maga in Hyderabad.
Besides the SWAT team, the Intelligence Special Branch – II, which looks into terror and communal cases has also been engaged in the mock drill, discussing various possible scenarios.
All districts in the southern state have already been instructed to raise SWAT teams.