His life is more dangerous than the hero of an action film. He is a real-life hero. Imagine defusing eight rockets, all in a day’s work! Such is the life of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Malik Tahir Mehmood Awan, in charge of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) in Sukkur.
“The most unforgettable incident of my life was in 2002 when I was called to defuse eight rockets installed at Quetta road in Jacobabad which were aimed to hit Shahbaz Airbase,” Tahir told The Express Tribune. The eight rockets of 60mm were installed at 45 degrees elevation and were ready to hit Shahbaz airbase in a few minutes.
“I immediately started defusing the rockets taking extreme care not to trigger the detonator,” he said, revealing that he defused the last rocket when there were three seconds left to go. “I feel proud that I and my team not only saved the Shahbaz airbase, but also Jacobabad city from destruction,” he said.
DSP Malik joined the armed forces in the year 1972 and after serving for 26 years, retired in the year 1998 from the post of Subedar Major. He received explosive defusing training in California, USA for two years and for one year in Shanghai, China.
“I joined the police force as an inspector in the year 1999 and after serving for two years in Karachi and Hyderabad, was posted in Sukkur and am here ever since,” he said.
In a disgruntled tone, Tahir said that “we endanger our lives to save people, but our services are never recognised. Some commendation certificates have been given to us, but no rewards or promotions are given to me or my team members,” he said.
Tahir is a father of three sons and two daughters and all three sons are in government service, while the elder daughter is married. “My wife, younger daughter and myself live here. They like my job, but get worried when I am busy in defusing explosives or clearing any explosive-hit site. Family and friends start calling me on the phone to ask about my well-being; their getting worried is but natural.”
How do they do it?
“We use explosive defusing suit before defusing any explosives and have to use cooling suits to inspect the site after bomb blasts. The cooling suit keeps us safe from the effects of chemicals and explosives,” he said.
He shared that while the BDS possesses all necessary equipment to carry out their job, additional gear like explosive and mine detectors, bomb locators and bomb blankets would be of great help.
“We judge the intensity of the explosive through the crater developed in the ground and the damage it causes in the area. Many types of explosives including, TNT, RDX, BWX, C-4, Black Powder and others are used,” he explained. Talking about the preparation of explosives-laden vehicles, he said that after mixing different types of explosives, a network of wires is connected to it and then detonators are fixed at the front and both sides of the vehicle, sparing its rare. Detonators are used to produce spark, which ignites the explosive. The driver doesn’t need to wear suicide vest, because he is already sitting on the heap of explosive.
The ISI blast
Talking about the Sukkur bomb blast at the ISI office, he shared that at least 500kg of explosives was used in that blast.
He said that they didn’t know exactly which vehicle was used for the ISI office bombing because it had been reduced to small mangled pieces and no chassis number or other such things were found.
According to him, the blast was intensified due to the busting of two pole-mounted transformers. “While we were clearing the compound we found six hand grenades, which were successfully defused,” he said.
“Besides this, we also found an unfinished suicide vest, which was without a detonator and electrical circuit.” Terrorists, according to him, choose to take the easiest and fastest route to their target. Therefore, it is assumed that they had entered the red zone through Circuit House Road.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2013.