Galwan, Daulat, Sasoma, Rezang, Mukhpari, Shyok — these are some of the names given to 17 dogs of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) inspired by strategic locations on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, where Indian and Chinese forces have been locked in a standoff since May this year. The naming ceremony was held by the force at its National Training Centre for Dogs at Panchkula in Haryana.
The 17 malinois pups, born two months ago to Gala (father) and Olga and Oleshya (the mothers) of ITBP’s K9 dog squad, are the first of their kind to have been given both strategic and Indian names. Apart from the six named above, the others have been given the names of Ane-la, Chip-chap, Saser, Srijap, Charding, Sultan-chusku, Imis, Rango, Yula, Chung-Thung and Khardungi.
It was at Galwan that India lost 20 soldiers during a clash with the Chinese forces in June after the PLA ingressed eight kilometres into Indian territory north of Pangong lake. Since then, multiple talks have been held between the two counties, both at diplomatic and military level, to restore status quo ante with little achievement.
While Daulat is an obvious reference to the Daulat Beg Oldie sector, Rezang is named after Rezang La on the South Bank of Pangong Tso, where India occupied key strategic heights at the end of August to counter China’s advantageous positions on the North bank. Mukhpari refers to the Mukhpari heights on the south bank, where Indian forces have taken position, making some key Chinese locations vulnerable. Shyok is named after the river that courses through the Galwan valley, while Sasoma is a settlement in the Nubra Valley from where India is building a key strategic road to Saser Pass.
“The pups have been named as a respect for all the troops guarding the excruciatingly tough borders of the country. By naming these little K9 soldiers with 100% desi names, that too from the areas guarded by the force, it is for the first time since Independence that the K9 wing of the country will acknowledge its own legacy and ethos. With this initiative, instead of calling out to Cesar, Olga and Elizabeth (Betty, Liza), the ITBP dog handlers will now be proudly calling out to names that flows in their blood, the very names of Himalayan points they guard in bone numbing high altitude terrain,” ITBP spokesperson 2IC Vivek Pandey said.
A senior officer said the exercise was also a step towards shaking off the “colonial hangover” of the Armed forces in India. “The tradition of giving English names to dogs has continued since the British era. The Armed forces never thought of Indianising this practice,” the officer said.
The force now plans to name the next batch of pups after other icy frontiers where ITBP is deployed, covering the entire 3488 km-long border from Karakoram to Jechap La.
“The ITBP has received requests from other Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) for these pups to be used for their security duties. ITBP was the first force to deploy Malinois dogs in LWE hit areas a decade ago, and now they have also started scientifically breeding K9s to meet own demands and provide pups to other CAPFs and State Police Forces as mandated by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA),” Pandey said.
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