The Punjab government has decided to merge the 1st Commando Battalion with its Special Operations Group, saying it will strengthen the state’s ability to tackle terror threats.
The merger would place an additional fund of Rs 16.54 crore at the disposal of the SOG for modernisation and upgrading its weapons, besides giving incentives to the specialised anti-terror force, said an official statement.
The chief minister also gave an in-principle approval to provide risk allowance to anti-terror commandos to the tune of 40 per cent of their basic pay in line with the incentive given to the specialised forces in other states.
The financial incentive to the commandos would put a burden of Rs 5.15 crore on the state exchequer, it said.
Singh took the in-principle decisions at a high-level meeting to review the overall police preparedness to deal with terror contingencies, it added.
The formal proposal on these decisions would be placed before the state Cabinet for its approval, it said.
Noting that non-conventional means of warfare by militants and anti-national elements warrant transformation of the state’s counter-terror apparatus, Singh told the meeting that the SOG’s role was critical in the new global scenario.
He also reaffirmed his commitment to nurture the SOG as an exclusive and “highly-endowed strike unit” and said no financial crunch would be allowed to come in the way of its upkeep.
Observing that serious terror threats have emanated from local as well as cross-border, Pakistan-based militant outfits, the chief minister said the border state’s vulnerability has become more pronounced in recent times.
Punjab shares an international border of 553 km with Pakistan.
The 1st Commando Battalion comprises 932 men and officers, including support staff.
A total of 157 commandos were being currently trained at the Commando Training Centre in Patiala by expert trainers from the Army and the National Security Guard.
Underlining the importance of continuous training, Singh directed the additional chief secretary (Home) to explore the feasibility of arranging live operational training for state’s SOG commandos in Jammu and Kashmir to impart them the first-hand experience in combat operations.
The SOG was set up as an anti-terror force by Punjab with an objective to neutralise the militant threats such as fidayeen attacks, hostage taking and armed infiltration.