To ensure fool-proof security at the venue of International Yoga Day event on Rajpath in New Delhi on June 21, security agencies have launched a special operation, called ‘DOGA’, by deploying trained sniffer dogs to scan and sanitise the entire area in the heart of the national capital.
Official sources said the operation is being spearheaded by the elite canine squad of paramilitary force ITBP and has been codenamed ‘DOGA’ by bringing together the words — ‘dog’ and ‘yoga’.
As the venue around India Gate-Rajpath will be visited by close to 40,000 people including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Cabinet ministers and others this Sunday, its peripheries and core areas have already been handed over for security checks to these four-legged soldiers.
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Indo-Tibetan Border Police, nominated as the national ‘centre for excellence’ for sniffer and police dogs training, has put on job a special breed of Belgian Shepherd, ‘Malinois’, who gained prominence across the world after they reportedly participated in the strike of US Navy SEAL commandos that killed Al Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden.
“Apart from the ‘Malinois’ breed, about a dozen German Shepherd and Labrador dogs have been deployed for sniffing and anti-sabotage tasks round-the-clock on Rajpath and surrounding areas. They are working in regular shifts along with their handlers.
“They will keep doing their job till the event ends on Rajpath on June 21,” a senior official privy to ‘Op DOGA’ said.
The official said sniffer dog units of other security agencies like Delhi Police have also been roped in.
ITBP canine squad, in the past, has been deployed for similar tasks like during the swearing-in ceremony of the Modi Cabinet on the Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt last year and during the visit of US President Barack Obama to India in January this year.
Considering the importance of the event on June 21, the official said, the need was felt to deploy a highly-skilled ‘Malinois’ for the task.
This dog is a cross-breed of an Israeli male Malinois with an American bitch and this coarser canine breed is preferred for military operations, sniffing out IEDs and detecting ambushes as it has a bigger head and heavier snout that give it an edge for such tasks.
The celebrations are being held in the national capital after the United Nations had in December last year declared June 21 as International Yoga Day, with 177 countries voting in favour.
The proposal had been mooted by Modi during his first address to the UN General Assembly in September last year.
Around 40,000 people are expected to perform ‘asanas’ during the 35-minute event which starts at 7 am on Rajpath.
The AYUSH Ministry, which is coordinating the event, will be providing mats to those who will perform ‘asanas’ in New Delhi.
Also, every diplomatic mission of foreign countries in Delhi has been given three passes for the function to showcase it as a world-class event.