RPF to join hands with Force One to combat terrorism

Elite force’s training unit at Hadapsar to be utilised soon to train young recruits from railway police in case of attacks

Pune: Considering the strong need to prepare to combat terror attacks, the Pune unit of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) is planning to tie up with the elite state Force One for its young recruits to be specially trained in counter-terrorism operations. RPF personnel are expected to undergo training at the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) unit in Hadapsar in July.

Currently, RPF officials of the Pune unit are in touch with Force One officers to set a module for the training programme, to be built around terrorist attacks targeting railway stations. This will be a first-of-its-kind training for these young recruits.

The step was taken by RPF authorities in the backdrop of various blasts in the city over the last few years — including the German Bakery blast in February 2010, J M Road blasts in 2012 and a low intensity blast outside Faraskhana police station in 2014. Following these attacks, various security agencies had beefed up their safety arrangements, including at Pune Airport.

Ashok Rai, divisional security commissioner of the central railway’s Pune division, told, “There have been three bomb blasts in Pune over the last five years, showing that the city is on the terror radar. Railway stations are crowded places that are often targeted. So, we felt that extra precautions need to be taken to safeguard the premises.”

The Pune unit of RPF, which is now in the process of recruiting young staffers, wants its men to be prepared to face terrorist attacks. “We have vacancies for 100 posts, of which around 60 are set to be filled. Currently, they are undergoing preliminary training at different centres. Once they join the force, it will help strengthen security at the Pune railway station. But, we do not want to limit ourselves to increasing manpower — we want to specially train it to face future threats,” Rai said.

Thanks to the existing SRPF unit at Hadapsar, RPF wishes to make the use of available infrastructure and Force One’s training guidance for its men. “As Pune has a Force One training unit at Hadapsar, we have contacted relevant officials, requesting them to train our men in counterterrorism. A letter mentioning our requirements has been submitted, and a reply received stating that a slot is open in July for such training to be undertaken,” said Rai. + Force One was established by the Maharashtra government after the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai in 2008 — its personnel are given training on the lines of the National Security Guard (NSG).

Force One officials told that specialised training is given to other forces according to their requirements, but the decision to finalise a schedule in this regard will be taken at a higher level.