Military-style light weapons in hand, dressed in camouflages and their faces masked, one unit approached stealthily from the top of the building. Another took the stairs while a third confronted the door. As the three units stormed the room simultaneously, a “terrorist” holed up there had no option, but to give himself up.
Well, it was just a simulated room intervention by the Special Tactical Unit (STU), a dedicated force to fight urban terrorism, which Odisha Police’s anti-extremist wing Special Operation Group (SOG) unveiled on Monday. The 30-member specialised unit is trained in commando operation to tackle urban terrorism scenarios.
Chief Secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra formally unveiled STU following a special demonstration at the 7th Battalion premises here. Director-General of Police Prakash Mishra was also present.
The STU, a unit carved out of the SOG, has received three months advanced training from National Security Guard (NSG) at Manesar in Haryana before undergoing anti-extremist training at the SOG headquarters. It is equipped with sophisticated weapons, masks, tactical vests, night vision devices and sniping equipment.
Odisha is the third State after Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to have a dedicated force to combat urban terrorism. Andhra Pradesh had created Octopus while Maharashtra formed Force One after 26/11. “SOG as a special anti-Naxal force is trained in jungle and guerilla warfare, but the State needed capability in tackling urban terrorism such as hostage situations, taking out extremists holed up in buildings and shrines or engaged in sabotage of vital installations. This is where STU will fill the gap,” IG (Operation) Arun Kumar Sarangi said.
The State Police is contemplating to develop STU gradually as a Counter- Terrorism Force independent of SOG so that it can be deployed anywhere in the State and even outside, whenever necessary. The NSG takes over during major situations, but in the rest of the cases, the tactical unit will be pressed into service, Sarangi said. Modelled after the NSG, the STU will be stationed in Bhubaneswar and mobilised to urban areas whenever necessary. In fact, another such tactical unit is being formed from the Special Security Battalion (SSB) of Commissionerate Police. The commandos will soon be sent to NSG for advanced training.
Once the STU emerges as a full force, it will act as a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit and will be equipped with helicopters too. The present unit is headed by an Assistant Commandant.