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Special Content

Issue no 29, 16-22 October 2021

A Special Strike Force to Counter Terrorism India's Black Cats Celebrate Their Raising Day


In India, there are seven Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) namely Assam Rifles, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Security Guard (NSG), and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The MHA deals with all matters relating to CAPFs, including their deployment. The NSG is celebrating its 37th raising day on October 16.

What is the National Security Guard?

The Union Cabinet in 1984 took a decision to create a Federal Contingency Force comprising of personnel who are highly motivated, specially equipped and well trained to tackle the various manifestations of terrorism. In June 1984, a nucleus consisting of the Director-General of NSG and other essential elements were sanctioned and steps were initiated to raise the Force. A bill for the creation of this Organization was introduced in the Parliament in August 1986 and it received the assent of the President on September 22, 1986.

The need for creating a special force for executing surgical operations based on tactical intelligence was felt in India due to recurring terror threats fuelled from across the border. NSG was conceptualized and created after studying and analyzing Special Forces like SAS in the United Kingdom, GIGN in France, GSG-9 in Germany, Shar-et-matkal in Israel and DELTA in the USA. Accordingly, NSG was raised on 16th October, 1985 as a Federal Contingency Force under the MHA. This strike force is a unique amalgam of selected personnel from the Army, the CAPFs and the State Police Forces. NSG is a 100% deputationist Force with 53% of its manpower drawn from the Army and 47% from CAPFs/ State Police Organizations.

The Force is headquartered in New Delhi. After the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, four regional Hubs (Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata), a part from the existing one in Manesar in Haryana, were established to reduce the response matrix and to ensure pan-India footprint. In 2016, the fifth hub came into existence in Gandhinagar.

How does the NSG function?

NSG is headed by an Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre Director General and is divided into the Special Action Group (SAG) and the Special Rangers Group (SRG). SAG, which is responsible for the direct execution of the operations, draws its recruits from the Indian Army. On the other hand, SRG, which serves in a support capacity, draws its recruits from the CAPFs.

The basic philosophy of NSG is swift and speedy strike and immediate withdrawal from the theatre of action. The NSG Commandos are trained in high risk tasks like counter hijacking and counter-terrorist operations. They are also assigned the task of providing mobile security protection to designated high risk individuals. The National Security Guard has the capability of maintaining two Task Forces at varying degrees of readiness to tackle any terrorist or hijack situation in the country.

The primary task of the Force is

1.      Immediate Backup Security Operations (IBUS)

NSG Task Forces (TFs) are deployed for IBUS operations as part of security arrangements during events of national importance including Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations.

2.      Operation COMET

NSG Commandos are deployed as Sky Marshals on various national and international flights on sensitive routes across the country and to foreign count.

3.      Reconnaissance of Vulnerable Areas/ Vulnerable Places/ Airports

NSG carries out regular reconnaissance of sensitive places/installations/ airports across the country. During the reconnaissance, familiarisation with sensitive places/ and installations is done.

4.      Close Protection Force

Close protection duties require unique orientation, tactical skills and specialized training. For this, personnel of the Force undergo Close Protection Foundation & Refresher Course. CPF trains personnel of State Police Forces undertaking proximate security duties as part of capacity building of States.

 Mobile Security covers for nominated high-risk individuals, anti-sabotage check of the venue of visit/public meeting of VVIPs, and post-blast studies also comes under the functions of the National Security Guard.

 NSG Hubs also contribute in capacity building and in conducting regular exercises with State Police Forces. Efforts are also being made to set up a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear & Explosives (CBRNe) Task Force.


Major Operations

As a Federal Contingency Force, NSG, with its ethos of excellence and motto 'Sarvatra, Sarvottam, Suraksha', has to its credit, several successful counter-terrorist operations. Some of the operations were:

 Operation Cloud Burst was carried out by NSG Commandos from June to November 1990. In this operation, the terrorist hideout in the border districts of Punjab viz. Taran-Taran, Batala, Gurdaspur, Algaon Kothi were neutralized. Operation Ashwamedh, a counter hijack operation at Amritsar Airport to rescue 126 passengers and six crew members of Indian Airlines Flight No. IC-427 going from New Delhi to Srinagar, was carried out on the night of 24/25th April, 1993. Operation Vajra Shakti was carried out at the Akshardham Temple, Gandhinagar, Gujarat in 2002. The NSG Commandos stormed the temple complex and shot dead two terrorists. Operation Black Tornado was a counterterrorist operation during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

For its dedication, valour and surgical operational capabilities, Commandos of this Special Force have earned the moniker 'Black Cats'. NSG members have become an intrinsic part of Joint Working Groups on counter terrorism which are undertaken with friendly foreign countries to build synergy, joint-manship and assist in capacity building amongst like-minded countries to counter the menace of terrorism. Every member of the Force is liable to serve in any part of India as well as outside the country.

Environment projects, such as ‘Green Aravali’, are also being run by the Force. A facilitation centre for children with special needs named 'PRERNA' has been established at the Manesar campus, with the aim of providing various therapies to the children with special needs so as to enhance their mental and physical skills. Various counselling sessions are also conducted from time to time to acquaint the parents with an understanding of the special needs of their children and improving their skills.

(Compiled by Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan)