In a first, the Delhi Police is set to induct 40 women into its Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, dedicated to anti-terror operations and tackling hardened criminals. Currently, the team has 200 men.
SWAT commandos are equipped with the latest weapons and security apparatus, and are expected to be ready for action within moments of an alarm being raised. The SWAT team in the capital was formed in 2009 in the wake of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai the previous year.
“The move will take the size of the team to 240,” a senior police officer said. “The induction of women will begin with the recruitment of the new batch of personnel in the force. They will be trained and equipped along with their male counterparts. Their deployment will also be on the same lines across the city.”
At any given point, some personnel of the SWAT team are always on duty in the city. Those who aren’t get 15-day training by rotation so they can keep their skills sharp.
SWAT commandos are equipped with AK-47 rifles, MP5 machine guns, Glock 17 or 26 pistols and corner shot devices for enhanced night vision. They are also trained in Krav Maga, a self-defence system developed for the Israel Defense Forces.
The commandos are further equipped with a pencil torch, bulletproof helmet, bulletproof jacket, a cutter and a commando dagger. They also wear special knee and elbow pads for protection during covert operations.
The officer further said that apart from recruitment training, the commandos undergo a 10-month exercise similar to the NSG. This training is provided in Jharoda Kalan, where the commandos learn how to undertake complex operations during terror attacks at crowded markets, residential complexes or government premises.
The Delhi Police is currently in the process of recruiting 7,307 personnel from across the country. Of the total vacancies, 2,424 are reserved for women. “The women commandos for the SWAT team are likely to be selected from this batch,” the officer said.
Currently, the team comprises personnel from the rank of constable to inspector, and is headed by an ACP-level officer. The force also plans to give another ACP and an inspector-level officer to the team. The commandos are deployed at various strategic locations such as India Gate, Parliament, New Delhi railway station and Indira Gandhi International Airport.
The officer said that they also plan to change the pattern of the SWAT uniforms so there is a clear distinction from local police. Police have approached some designers to suggest these changes.
When contacted, Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik told The Indian Express: “Yes, this is one of our important initiatives. We feel the women personnel of the Delhi Police should take a leading role in critical situations as well, and we are working towards it.”