Pune still on terror radar,but no lessons learnt

Bomb disposal squad continues to risk lives with outdated gear; total containment vehicle left to rust

Written by Chandan Haygunde | Pune | Published: July 30, 2013 2:30 am

A year after the J M Road blasts,intelligence alerts show that Pune continues to be on the radar of terrorists — the latest alerts landing in the city from July 13 to 21. However,it seems that the state government and police machinery are yet to learn their lesson. Consequently,the lives of Puneites as well as those of the officials of Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) remain at risk.

Shockingly,the BDDS still does not have proper protective bomb suits,which is one of the most essential gadgets required for defusing bombs. The BDDS has only one bomb suit,which is old,damaged and outdated.

On July 13,2012,barely days before the J M Road blasts,Pune police had written to the state government about the requirement for six bomb suits. A couple of months before these serial blasts,the BDDS had actually refused to use the suit available to them because they felt that it only posed more threat to their life.

However,when bombs were actually traced on J M Road on August 1,2012,the BDDS used this outdated bomb suit for defusing them.

Some of the BDDS members in operation were clearly seen wearing bullet proof jackets with bike helmets,which hardly provided any protection from bombs.

Had the bombs exploded,the bomb disposal squad member could have lost his life.

Fortunately for the squad,of the six bombs planted,five went off with low intensity and one had to be defused by the BDDS before the explosion on J M Road. Only one person,identified as Dayanand Patil,was injured in the blasts.

Even now,the BDDS gets an average of three calls every two days and the squad continues to risk the lives of its members with the same,old bomb suit.

According to an officer,“We had no other option during the J M Road attack and nor do we have any today. We just cannot ignore any call. Major problem arises when we get more than one call at a time. Only one team can use the bomb suit and others have to wait for the first team to finish its work. This wait could be dangerous.”

After the J M Road blasts,ministers and police officials made statements of procuring the bomb suits for Pune BDDS as early as possible. But a year has passed and nothing has happened so far.

Apart from bomb suits,the BDDS also lacks a total containment vehicle (TCV),used to transport suspicious objects to safer place for disposal.

At present,the BDDS has an assembled metal trolley that is supposed to be used as TCV. However,this trolley too is now covered with rust.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (special branch) M B Tambade said,“We have repeatedly sent a list of our requirements to the state government. But I cannot comment about the progress in the process of procurement.”

Tambade admitted there are situations that are difficult to handle when calls are received from more than one locations at the same time.

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