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'We need an elite counter-terrorism squad'

December 1, 2008
To frame the conversation and to provide useful insight, Nevatia invited Sahni and Raghunathan, who were intimately involved in the investigation of the 1993 Mumbai serials blasts and who have seen terror wreak havoc on India soil for "three decades now: 1980s, 1990s, 2000s," as Sahni put it.

Sahni, who left early to attend a prayer meeting for fallen colleagues, began by laying out the myriad problems facing India's security forces at a macro level, and how the country might go about improving them.

He lamented the country's lack of a true elite counter-terrorism encounter squad, saying a group should be trained to handle this sort of attack and should have a presence in every major Indian metro.

"Please realise that the Anti-Terrorism Squad is an investigative unit," he said. "They are not equipped to handle these intense encounters. In addition, the state police is not prepared to battle such well-armed terrorists. They are only authorised to use minimum force: Tear gas, lathi-charge and, ultimately, fire arms that have been strategically designed to be non-lethal."

"We must have a counter-terrorism squad that is hard-headed and hard-hearted and trained to go for the kill. Just the presence of a well-trained counter-terrorism unit would provide both a physical and psychological deterrent to terrorists."

Image: Former Mumbai police commissioner Satish Sahni

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