When three-year-old Aminika, a Belgian Malinois, died sniffing out explosives earlier this year in Maoist-affected Jharkhand, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) ensured that a proper burial was organised for the brave dog.
Aminika was given an 18-gun salute, her coffin was draped in the national flag and a memorial stone detailing her operational achievements were placed near the burial site.
During her two-year stint, Aminika had detected over 50 kg of explosives, which included cane bombs and mines, the memorial stone said.
The CRPF, the largest force deployed for anti-Maoist operations in the Red Corridor spanning over 10 States, wants to ensure their dogs are also extended the same respect as a jawan killed in action.
IEDs, a major concern
With a rise in the number of trained Belgian Malinois’ sent to the Red Corridor, the CRPF has finalised a protocol to be followed in case one of the canines loses its life in the line of duty. The Belgian Malinois were first introduced in the Red Corridor in 2013 and currently 284 dogs are deployed. Another 45 are under training.
An official explained that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were the biggest concern for the security forces who go for patrolling or operations in the dense interiors and dogs come in handy by sniffing them out.
The standard operating procedure (SOP) was devised last year amid rising number of injuries to CRPF dogs. This year, two trained dogs — Animika and Pluto — were killed in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh respectively.
Protocol in place
“After serving the nation for their entire productive life, the dog deserves dignified last rites in consonance with a valiant force’s traditions. This document is an attempt to prescribe a protocol to bring some level of uniformity in honouring these trusted companions when they finally end their vigilant watch over our lives and freedoms,” the protocol says.
The SOP says the dogs be buried to “reduce the likelihood of intentional or accidental desecration of their remains.
For the burial, the remains should be first enclosed in coffin and burial should take place as quick as possible,” the SOP said.
A 13-member team will give the guard of honour and a wreath-laying ceremony will be held.
“In case the deceased dog had been awarded a medal for operational excellence, it would be handed over to the handler who will in turn send it to the Dog Breeding and Training Centre in Taralu, Karnataka, where it would be displayed in a gallery,” said the SOP.
“An 18-gun salute to be performed in a normal regimented fashion. It is both permissible and appropriate at all ceremonies to play ‘Taps’ (a bugle call) for a fallen dog. The dog’s leash, collar and an inverted food bowl signifying the bond with the handler should be placed at the grave. A granite slab measuring 28” X 18” be placed as a memorial stone at the burial site,” the SOP said.