Vijayawada

Shunning the beaten track, these policemen have their task cut out

A file picture of Greyhounds constables on a combing operation against Maoists.   | Photo Credit: C_V_SUBRAHMANYAM

October 21 is observed a Police Martyrs’ Day or Police Commemoration Day, as on this day in 1959, 10 members of a 20-member CRPF team were killed in an ambush laid by Chinese troops in the Ladakh region. And since then, the Indian government and various State governments instituted special police forces, who are trained to handle specific tasks, and one among them is the Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh.

Greyhounds was raised in 1989 by K.S. Vyas as an elite anti-naxal force, and since then the force has been engaged in operations, and is today considered to be one of the best in the business. Security experts say they are on a par with the elite NSG and even better when it comes to jungle warfare.

Shrouded in secrecy, this elite force was set up in the then unified Andhra Pradesh, and was later split between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Well trained

Nothing much is known about the recruitment and training, but over the years, the force has proved to be an expert in anti-insurgency warfare in jungle terrain.

The training is said to be gruelling and rigorous, and the upper age limit does not exceed 35 years, thereafter they are drafted into civil police. “This gives the Greyhounds an edge over other forces, as the team is young,” said a senior police officer

Deployment

Geryhounds is deployed in the Andhra Odisha Border (AOB) region in the districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and East Godavari, where there is considerable presence of the banned CPI (Maoists).

Greyhound parties comprising about 30 men are deployed at a time for combing operation and they foray deep into the jungles. Each Greyhound personnel carries a minimum of 20 kg weight, which includes a 5-kg bag containing food, water, clothing and medicine, and at least one weapon and ammunition.

Every combing party is out for a minimum of five to six days on the trot, and during that period they cover on foot at least 70 to 80 km. They live on a diet of dry fruits (cashew and badam), pre-prepared curd rice, plain chappatis and at times cook a small meal of rice and dal. “Often the curd rice turns sour after two days, and then we add some water, and the chappatis become hard as papads. Rice and dal or noodles that we carry is liberty, as lighting a fire can attract the enemy,” said a senior officer, who served Group Commander in the Greyhounds.

All the 30-member team are trained combatants, but each has his task cut out. Some are trained to administer medicines, including intravenous injections, some to handle high frequency communication sets and satellite phones and some to prepare a quick meal. “During the five days, there is no mode of communication, except through Sat Phone or VHF to the base. Even VHF is used sparingly, as it can be intercepted, despite we using scramblers,” said the officer.

Threats

The Greyhounds does not use the beaten track or animal tracks, but cuts through the dense forest. Apart from ambush and IEDs placed by the insurgents, they brave the threat from poisonous snakes and scorpions. On the trot, they can trek for 10 to 20 km with the weight and each is a trained marksman.

Whenever a team returns to the base, at least 50% of them are down with viral fever, dengue, malaria or typhoid. At times, the entire team falls sick, but they are back on duty within a few days, said the officer.

Arms

Apart from being well-trained, they carry the most sophisticated weapons which includes SLR, MP-5 carbines, AK 47s with under barrel grenade launchers, 5.56 Insas and 9 mm pistols. Fire power, agility, training, motivation, terrain knowledge, intelligence network and endurance is what makes them invincible.

The only major setback, since inception, suffered by the force was in 2008, when 37 of them were ambushed by the Maoists,when they were crossing Balimela reservoir in a boat.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 12:14:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/shunning-the-beaten-track-these-policemen-have-their-task-cut-out/article29739332.ece

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