In order to strengthen the state's operational preparedness to counter non-traditional terror threats, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday gave in-principle approval to merge the 1st Commando Battalion into the Special Operations Group (SOG).The merger will place an additional Rs. 16.54 Crores at the disposal of SOG, which would be utilised for modernisation and upgradation of weapons, besides incentivisation of the specialised force.Captain Amarinder Singh also gave his nod to a proposal to provide risk allowance to commandos, at the rate of 40% of basic pay, on the lines of other state specialised forces across the country involving a cost of Rs. 5.15 crores for state exchequer. Expenditure on equipment, weapons, communication systems and building infrastructure would be done in a phased manner, with Rs. 8.66 crores to be spent in the first year.The Chief Minister announced these decisions at a high-level meeting to review the overall police preparedness to deal with terror related contingencies. An official spokesperson said the formal proposal on the decisions would be placed before the Council of Ministers.Noting that non-conventional means of warfare by militants and anti-national elements had necessitated the transformation of the state’s counter-terror apparatus, the Chief Minister told the meeting that the role of SOG was critical in the transformed global scenario.
Reaffirming his personal commitment to nurturing the SOG as an exclusive and highly endowed hit unit, the Chief Minister said no financial crunch would be allowed to come in the way of the upkeep of the force. Noting that serious terror dangers emanate from local as well as cross-border militant organisations based in Pakistan, he said the state’s vulnerability had become more pronounced in recent times.It may be noted that the 1st Commando Battalion comprises 932 men and officers, including 273 combat posts and 318 posts of support staff. A total of 157 commandos were being currently trained at the Commando Training Centre in Patiala by elite trainers from the Indian Army, para special forces, CPOs and NSG inducted into the Punjab Police as a special case.Underlining the importance of continuous training in this scenario, the Chief Minister directed the ACS Home to explore the possibility of arranging live operational training of SOG commandos in Jammu & Kashmir to give them first-hand experience in ongoing combat operation. He also asked the ACS to work out the modalities for requesting NSG to train state commandos at regular intervals.Stressing the need to reduce the time lag in procurement of weapons, Captain Amarinder Singh also asked the ADG SOG to adopt the NSG pattern for the procurement of hi-tech weapons and technical equipment from the same buyers once approved by the national security agency.Earlier, ADGP SOG, in a power point presentation, apprised the Chief Minister about the training drills of commandos at Bahadurgarh Fort in Patiala. He also about the various national level awards won by trainees during combat competitions. Others present in the meeting included Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Additional Chief Secretary Home N S Kalsi, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, DGP Suresh Arora, DGP Law and Order H S Dhillon, Secretary Home Kumar Rahul, ADGP/Special Operation Group Patiala Rakesh Chandra and ADGP/SOG Jitendra Kumar Jain.