Street dogs graduate in explosives detection course!April 16th, 2008 - 11:01 am ICT by admin
By Sujeet Kumar
Raipur, April 16 (IANS) They are alert, know danger when they see it and are certainly not hard to come by. Street dogs are now being roped in for an explosives detection course in Maoist violence-hit Chhattisgarh. Four street dogs have just graduated in a nine-month Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) detection course from the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC) in Kanker district, 140 km from here.
They are soon to be posted in the hilly, forested southern interiors of the state - a hotbed of Maoist insurgency though traditionally it’s Alsatians and Labradors that have been used as sniffer dogs.
“I picked up four street dogs within my college premises and handed them over to 10 trainers to admit them to the CTJWC in July 2007 for a complete nine-month training. They are called Lily, Sally, Teja and Kareena,” B.K. Ponwar, director of CTJWC, told IANS.
“With the first batch having completed its training April 1, the three dogs are now fully capable of detecting IEDs up to six inches below the ground surface,” said Ponwar, a retired brigadier of the Indian Army.
The CTJWC has now picked up two more street dogs and are looking for at least four to six more healthy puppies to begin the second batch of training. The first lesson of the course is of course ‘how to be obedient’.
“These trained street dogs can detect explosives up to 20 inches below the surface if advanced training capsules are offered,” Ponwar claimed. “I found them tougher, harder, sharper and more active than pedigreed dogs during the training period.
“This is the first time in India that street dogs have been enrolled for an IED detection course. I haven’t heard of stray dogs being trained anywhere else for sniffing out explosives,” Ponwar said.
“Since one sniffer dog costs about Rs.85,000, it’s time the Indian forces looked for mongrels or street dogs as a perfect alternative to species like Labradors and Alsatians that are favoured.”
The Chhattisgarh government set up the CTJWC in August 2005 and roped in Ponwar as director. He was then heading the Indian Army’s prestigious Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Mizoram. Chhattisgarh is one of the states worst hit by Maoist insurgency.
Ponwar said: “Trained street dogs can help contain insurgency and terrorism because the country is short of sniffer dogs in proportion to their demands and the area of armed conflict and insurgency is widening by the day.”
Officials at the Chhattisgarh police headquarters here say that the trained street dogs will soon be posted in either Bijapur or Dantewada district, which witnessed a flurry of landmine attacks by guerrillas on police and civilians facilities.
(Sujeet Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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