The National Security Guard (NSG) — which has a pan-India mandate for counter-terrorist and counter-hijack operations — has come up with a proposal to raise a regional hub at Amritsar to “bolster reaction capability” in North India.
The proposal, recently received by the Punjab government, states: “As on date, the NSG is well disposed to carry out assigned tasks through New Delhi-based units in conjunction with its regional hubs. However, the prevalent security environment coupled with vast geographical spread of the country necessitated enhanced footprints of NSG to execute its assigned tasks. The raising of regional hubs post 26/11 Mumbai attack has provided a substantial fillip to the reaction capability of NSG in the peninsular Indian and eastern coast. A similar need is felt for an NSG hub in the northern part of the country to bolster reaction capability.”
“The Khalistani movement, though largely contained, given the geostrategic situation and nefarious designs of our Western neighbour, may lead to a Terrorist Initiated Incident (TII) necessitating immediate response. Further, the revered holy site of Golden Temple presents a lucrative target for anti-national elements to reap disproportional dividends from any terrorist incident on the premises,” reads the proposal.
It also states that the location would provide “ideal conditions for execution of NSG operations owing to presence of an operational international airport (to enable airlift) and adequate lines of communication in the close proximity”.
The proposal describes Amritsar as “a major Cantt township of Punjab in close proximity of international boundary” and “home to several field formations of Indian Army and certain units of IAF”.
“The location provides maximum ease in terms of conduct of Sky Marshal operations. The Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport has adequate domestic and international traffic, which will facilitate Sky Marshal operations by the NSG Task Force…Amritsar International Airport is one of the 12 designated airports for hijack situation in the country,” the document further states.
It also says that the “probability of any major targeted terrorist attack on campus is minimal, even though it may not be completely and effectively ruled out”.
Nearly 140 acres of land will be required for an NSG hub at Amritsar. The NSG Headquarters has observed that aspects of availability of land and willingness of the state government to provide the same needs to be explored.
The proposal has noted that identification and acquisition of land will be one of the most time-consuming processes, which will hinge upon cooperation from the concerned state machinery. “It may be prudent to discount 4-6 months for the process even after due impetus from highest level of state government,” it adds.
The hub will have manpower similar to that of existing regional hubs of NSG. The existing strength of a regional hub is 460 personnel and an accretion of approximately 20 personnel (in addition to authorised strength of 460) is envisaged to cater for support and infrastructural staff.
The new hub will be equipped as per existing equipment policy. However, in addition, force multiplier equipment will have to be considered. Noting that specific projections for weapon, equipment and vehicles would be mentioned in a detailed proposal, the NSG stated that as per a brief estimate, the three components would be “based on the Regional Hub Gandhinagar (Gujarat) Model”.
The financial implications of raising a new hub will be similar to that of other regional hubs of NSG with due allowance for inflation, location specific peculiarities, land policy of the state government and other associated aspects.
Additional cost would also be incurred towards creation of infrastructure and manpower increment of a training centre at Manesar.