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Learning To Die

The policeman as the official fidayeen

Learning To Die
They are a spine-chilling set of instructions but j&k dgp Ashok Suri had little choice, reeling as his men are under the deadly impact of fidayeen attacks.

Senior officers of the state police are actually preparing their men to die. In regular, daily briefings, officers speak to sentries every day. "We are psychologically preparing them for death because the first layer of security, at least, will always remain vulnerable in the event of a suicide attack," reveals an officer.

Similarly, the second layer—20 to 30 yards away—is being psychologically prepared to neutralise the attack and not panic. For, if the bombers are stopped in the 30 yards—also called the killer zone—there is a possibility of minimising casualties, as also of preventing VIPs from being taken hostage. And in the split seconds that the first layer is attacked, the second tier is to quickly issue a set of instructions on the wireless.

Dry runs of what to say and how to react are now a daily drill in Kashmir where edgy soldiers pace up and down, not knowing when a human bomb will land up at their door. So, instead of standing guard behind the boundary wall of either a vip's house or an important installation, security personnel are out there in front in bunkers, armed with sturdy helmets, bullet-proof vests.

More often than not, suicide-bombers come disguised in police uniforms; the troops have now been briefed to see if these uniforms look new or if the shoes they are wearing match their own. "Often, militants wear sports shoes, which is a giveaway. Now we have to look at all minute details," says the officer.

Since there is little that can be done if the suiciders come in a vehicle ready to be rammed into the gate (entry points too are being reduced), then those guarding the gate are being prepared to die "for the sake of the nation". Precautions are then being taken to prevent the car from proceeding further. Concertina wires are now being laid within the periphery of walls. Since there is a paucity of funds to buy alarm systems, bottles are being tied to the wire so that it serves as an alert. Especially in case the attack is made after dusk. The policemen have also been told to sleep with their weapons, so precious time is saved. When the bottles clink, instant reaction is expected—like the locking of doors so as to prevent the bomber from reaching the target. This is what the watch and ward staff did in Parliament on December 13.

In Kashmir, the target could also be Farooq Abdullah. Members of the Al Badr group, arrested recently, revealed that fidayeen who have been tasked for this job have already entered the Valley. Farooq, senior officials reveal, has been briefed and asked to take the necessary precautions. While he is on the road, travelling in his motorcade, cars to the right and left of his vehicle provide him cover.

Sacrifice, now, has become part of the drill.
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