NSG to revise procedures following Pathankot attack

RSTV Bureau
File Photo: An armoured military vehicle at Pathankot Airbase in January 2016.

File Photo: An armoured military vehicle at Pathankot Airbase in January 2016.

The country’s elite anti terror force National Security Guards (NSG) has decided to review and revise its standard operating procedures for defusing bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) following the death of a senior officer during Pathankot airbase attack early this year.

The premier anti terror force lost an experienced counter-IED officer to a deadly booby trap in the the attack as the terrorists used an innovative technique whose antidote was not included in the Standard Operating Procedure of the elite counter-terror force.

NSG’s FBI trained officer Lt Col Niranjan EK was killed on January 03 at Pathankot airbase when he was trying to sanitise the body of a terrorist killed by the force.

The officer was only wearing a bullet proof jacket not a bomb protection suit when a grenade cleverly concealed in a deceased terrorist’s arms pouch went off killing the officer.

The brave officer had already sanitised two bodies and was working on the third when the fatal blast claimed his life.

The incident raised serious questions about the protocols followed by the force to defuse bombs and booby traps as the body of the dead terrorists was already frisked by another NSG officer wearing bomb protection suit but he failed to detect the cleverly concealed booby trap.

“Recently, we had an incident at Pathankot where a grenade was used as a booby trap and unfortunately NSG lost one of its brilliant officers. In this case, everything that was there in SOP was followed but the terrorists used an innovative thing which somehow was not included in the SOP and that perhaps led to this unfortunate incident,” NSG Chief RC Tayal said.

“We are now revising our SOPs. We have learnt our lessons and we will incorporate (new things). The scope for improvement is always there. No one can say that the SOP or the procedure which is prescribed right now cannot be improved. Once we have this experience, we keep on updating these SOPs,” said Tayal while addressing an international seminar on combating the menace of IEDs.

The NSG Director General (DG), however, maintained that Niranjan, an experienced and highly-trained Commanding Officer of the Bomb Disposal and Detection Unit, had followed all laid down SOPs while sanitising the bodies of the four terrorists, killed in the attack on IAF base on January 3.

“He (Niranjan) followed the SOP,” said the top National Security Guard (NSG) commander, as he vouched for the competence and professional acumen of the martyred officer.

According to senior officials of the NSG bomb data centre, Niranjan was probably the only officer who had a wide-range of experience in conducting back-to-back anti-sabotage and sanitisation checks on live bombs, including defusing IEDs found in Patna and Bodh Gaya in Bihar, Bengaluru and Burdwan in West Bengal.