Friday, June 18, 2021

Punjab to set up special technological force to counter cross-border terrorism

Amid increasing cases of smuggling of weapons and drugs via drone droppings in the border state, the Punjab Government has decided to enhance the counter terrorism capacity of its police force and establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to augment its technological capacity to counter cross-border terrorism.

Part of the sweeping restructuring changes approved for the Punjab Police department on Wednesday by the state cabinet under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who also holds the Home portfolio, the SPV will be set up on the lines of ETTSA established by the Punjab Excise Department. The Chief Minister, who shall be the Chairman of the SPV as Minister In-charge, has been authorized to take further necessary steps to establish the SPV at the earliest possible.

Given the growing criticality of technology in policing as well as crime control and detection, It has been decided to give the SPV the flexibility to hire experts and consultants in various frontline areas of police technology, as per the evolving needs of the police.

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According to DGP Dinkar Gupta, the SPV will work on establishing a Unified Communication Network of senior police/civil officers, besides undertaking the development and deployment of an Online Intelligence Sharing Platform in the state. It will also work on setting up a StateGrid as a network of databases about Arms, Arms License holders, Arms Dealers, Vehicles, Suspects, Passports etc.

In addition, the SPV has been envisaged as a vehicle for the creation of a Realtime Crime Centre, involving mining of data analytic applications, integrated with current databases to allow for more proactive responses and achieve operational objectives of the State Police. It will be further tasked with finding an efficacious and powerful solution for enabling proper information storage, collation, analysis, sharing and retrieval of data. GIS Mapping of the State is another key agenda for the SPV.

The decision to set up the SPV comes amid growing attempts by Pakistan-based forces to revive terrorism in the state, as evident from the number of arrests and seizures made this year. As of December 28, Punjab has witnessed the arrest of 66 terrorists, with 12 modules busted in 2020. Seven drones have been captured, while 21 hand grenades, four rifles (including 2 AK46/AK56) and 28 revolvers/pistols/mousers have been recovered since January 1, 2020.

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The Cabinet, at its virtual meeting today, also sanctioned augmentation of the police department’s Counter Terrorism capacity by reducing the age profile of 01 Commando Battalion by filling up vacant posts with newly recruited Constables and re-deployment of existing manpower within the Armed Cadre. Young and directly recruited Constables with remarkably high physical standards would be given specialized training and inducted in these Battalions.

In another decision, the Cabinet approved re-designation of the two existing Armed Police Battalions as Punjab Rapid Action Battalions within the sanctioned strength of the Armed Cadre, with posts to be filled up by a mix of newly-recruited Constables against vacant posts and redeployment of existing manpower within the Armed Police.

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