Poor odds: The vulnerability of those who protect us

Bomb disposal squads forced to work in high-risk environments sans proper gear, equipment.


Our Correspondent December 16, 2013
Police officials present a guard of honour at the Police Line Headquarters in Peshawar on Monday to the BDS officials who were killed in an IED attack. PHOTO: PPI

PESHAWAR: There are many ifs and buts in any given situation. If Abdul Haq and his team had been provided a vehicle equipped with jammers they might have been able to avoid the blast but they were travelling without one.

The vehicle was without a jammer, providing terrorists with the perfect opportunity to strike using a remote-controlled device.

Talking to The Express Tribune, a BDS official said the non-availability of jammers forced the department to create a travel protocol – share local police rides which come installed with signal jammers.

However, this Monday morning, the police were unable to give us a vehicle with jammers, and this mistake proved fatal, said the official. He added the BDS has been provided with few jammers but even those were really substandard and ineffective.

Missing the tech

“Our colleague Inspector Hukam Khan was killed even though he had a portable jammer with him which speaks volumes about the quality of our combat gear,” argued the BDS official. He narrated a particularly tough instance in which he had to defuse a device which had five different mechanisms installed together.

“The terrorists are using vibration systems, pressure systems, mobile phones, radio remotes and wires. I have seen at least one device with all these methods so it is a technological war in which terrorists have stolen a march on us,” he lamented.

The BDS even has a bomb defusing robot, added the official; whenever they try using it on the field for defusing a device it loses signals. “And then we have to worry about the machines as well as our own safety.”

One for us, all for them

“All good quality jammers have been installed in VIP vehicles and the BDS has been left without a single piece of quality equipment.” In addition, the squads are short of personnel, and additions such as the 30 constables from the regular police force are not filling in the gaps.

“Before Muharram at least 30 people were sent from Police Lines but only half of them came to BDU and they are not sufficiently trained – they have only passed short bomb defusing courses in Lahore.”

The official added for the first time in the squad’s history, it has four vehicles in Peshawar – a step forward. But these four vehicles need staff – the squad has only nine trained personnel. The rest, the official argued, were not qualified to save lives.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2013.

COMMENTS (2)

A. Khan | 8 years ago | Reply

Why these huge military industrial complex cannot produce radio frequency jammers is beyond ? At least, produce them under licence given the issues we have in this country. Well, at least the rich politicians have bomb proof cars to travel around in.

Okara bull | 8 years ago | Reply

Brave solider. The real brave heart. Proud they were saving my and my family lives!

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