New Delhi: In his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme broadcast Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the bravery of India’s canine soldiers, mentioning Sophie, a Cocker Spaniel, and Vida, a Labrador, and urging the people of the country to adopt a desi pet if they are planning to have one.
Sophie and Vida are both involved in counter-infiltration and counter-terrorism operations, and were awarded with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Commendations on the 74th Independence Day.
Vida, a black Labrador from an Army Dog Unit in the Northern Command, was instrumental in detecting five mines and one grenade buried underground, preventing casualties and injuries of troops, Army sources said.
Meanwhile, Sophie, a brown Cocker Spaniel of the Special Frontier Force (Bomb Disposal Squad), saved lives by sniffing out the presence of initiator/accelerant during a search operation in Delhi, which could have been quickly used to fabricate an IED, the sources said.
Modi also mentioned Balram, a dog who detected a large amount of explosives on the Amarnath Yatra route in 2006; Bhawana, who detected an IED but was killed along with her handler when it was triggered while being defused in 2002; and CRPF’s sniffer dog ‘Cracker’.
On 7 April 2017, troops of the 170 Battalion along with CRPF canine soldier Cracker, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, were on area domination duty in Modakpal forest area, Bijapur, Chhattisgarh. Cracker managed to sniff out an IED planted on a trail, but the IED was triggered just as it was noticed and the dog was killed. Its handler had received minor injuries in the blast.
“Recently, Beed police bade a tearful adieu to their dog ‘Rocky’, who had helped solve more than 300 cases,” PM Modi added.
India’s canine soldiers
Since July 2019, sources in the force said, Army dogs have contributed to a number of operational successes — including 30 cases of recovery of IEDs and explosives; five cases in which the canine soldiers sniffed out terrorists in hiding, leading to their elimination; and four cases of recovery of live individuals and mortal remains in snow-bound areas.
Army dogs have also helped in 14 cases of recovery of arms and ammunition hidden by terrorists.
“Dogs trained in the Indian Army are rendering yeoman service to the nation by performing stellar op successes as force multipliers in various counter-insurgency/counter-terrorist operations,” an Army source said, adding that the dogs have also saved many lives in avalanches, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
The Indian Army has eight different roles for dogs — tracker, guard, mine detection, explosive detection, infantry patrol, avalanche rescue operations, search & rescue, and assault and narcotic detection.
The superiority of these canine soldiers is reflected by the increasing demand from friendly foreign countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia and South Africa to acquire dogs trained by the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) in India, and getting their own army personnel trained through dog-handling courses conducted by the Indian Army.
PM bats for desi dogs
PM Modi pointed out that dogs play an important role in disaster management and rescue missions.
“In India, NDRF has trained dozens of such dogs. These dogs are experts in detecting living persons under the debris in an earthquake or building collapse. I have been told that Indian breed dogs are very good and competent. The cost of their upkeep is also quite less and they are also accustomed to the Indian conditions. Now our security forces have also inducted and trained Indian breed dogs in their dog squads,” he said.
The Army has inducted the indigenous breed of Mudhol hounds.
The PM said the Indian Council of Agricultural Research is also conducting research on dogs of Indian breed.
“Mudhol hound and Himachal Hound, Rajapalayam, Kanni, Chippiparai and Combai are good Indian breeds dogs. The cost of their upkeep is also quite less and they are accustomed to Indian weather. Indian Council of Agricultural Research is also conducting research on Indian breed dogs. Their purpose is to make Indian breeds better and more useful,” he said.
“Next time when you think of keeping a dog, you must bring home an Indian breed dog. When self-reliant India is becoming the mantra of masses, no area should be left behind,” Modi added.
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