CRPF loses two of its prized ‘Osama hunters’

January 26, 2017 12:00 am | Updated 04:00 am IST - NEW DELHI:

A Belgian Malinois

A Belgian Malinois

After losing two of its highly-trained canines, famed as the ‘Osama hunters’, to naxal-triggered IED blasts in a week’s time, an alarmed CRPF has asked field units to “study” reasons that led to these losses and undertake new tactical steps to thwart Maoists attempts to target the ‘four-legged soldiers’.

Two back-to-back incidents, on January 18 in Jharkhand’s Latehar and on Tuesday in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur, claimed the lives of ‘Aminika’ and ‘Pluto’, two of the top Belgian Malinois of the country’s largest paramilitary force.

Both the dogs were out with Central Reserve Police Force patrol parties in the Naxal heartland when cleverly-hidden Improvised Explosive Device blasts claimed their lives.

Excellent sniffers

The Belgian Malinois breed have been inducted in Indian security forces few years back based on their excellent track record of sniffing out hidden bombs and danger in the enemy territory.

These dogs first shot to international fame after they assisted the elite US Navy SEALs in sniffing out Osama bin Laden from his safe haven in Pakistan in 2011 and were since then famously called as the ‘Osama hunters’.

“It is a loss for the force as these four-legged soldiers have saved numerous troops’ lives in the battle zone especially in naxal areas and were very dear to us. We are looking at what exactly caused these incidents and I have asked my field units to study the blasts.

“If it requires adopting certain different tactical steps to be undertaken, we will do that,” CRPF Director General K. Durga Prasad said.

CRPF officials, while talking about the two recent setbacks, said these dogs are put under rigorous training for 24-weeks in sniffing, tracking and attack tactics and it is “near to impossible” that they will miss an hidden IED or bomb beneath the muddy earth.

“These dogs have saved numerous lives and personnel from getting maimed or killed after they sniffed in time the hidden IEDs or Maoists laying an ambush. An analysis is being done if the naxals have improvised on some techniques to outsmart even these dogs.

“As these dogs are highly trained and smart as compared to any breed , there have been no incidents in the past when they could have been killed in operations. These are the first two deaths,” they said.

Mainstay of forces

The importance of these Belgian Malinois dogs can be ascertained from the fact that forces like CRPF, ITBP and BSF now have over 200 such canines and every battalion operating in the naxal area has one dog and patrols have been asked to keep the dog in the lead column to save them against threats.

A dog instructor said once these dogs started saving troops lives and giving them an edge in naxal operations, they were labelled as ‘paltan hi shaan, hamara shvaan’ (A dog is the units’ honour) and the best of the facilities were accorded to them including their handlers.

Much decorated

A number of siblings of ‘Aminika’ and ‘Pluto’ in various forces have been decorated with the D-Gs commendation discs for good work in the past even as CRPF accords them the badge of putting ‘Shaheed’ before their names, on par with a similar honour for troops who lay down their lives in the line of duty. - PTI

Both the slain dogs have been the course toppers at their training academy at Taralu near Bengaluru.

Both the CRPF canines, who lost their lives within a span of a week, were cremated with full force honours and plans are afoot to erect memorials at their respective battalion headquarters. - PTI

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