CHINKS IN THE ARMOUR: Members of the squad, which was involved in cracking several sensitive cases, say considering the risks involved in the work they need an insurance cover
Mumbai: Maharashtra’s elite anti-terrorism squad (ATS), formed two years ago to combat terror outfits, is yet to receive insurance cover and medical benefits for injuries sustained during sensitive operations. Considering the risks involved in their line of work, ATS members are now accusing the state government of depriving their families of muchneeded financial security.
The squad, which is routinely involved in raids and seizures of arms and explosives, arrested the imam of the Haj House mosque and three Kashmiris in January 2006. They had then seized detonators, electronic switches and revolvers from them. The other cases under ATS investigation include a recent bomb blast at Nanded in which two persons making bombs at the houseof a Bajrang Dal activist were killed, the recovery of explosives in Buldhana and explosions in Marathwada in 2003.
As per a July 2004 resolution, the government had decided that ATS staff would receive priority in housing, medical assistance, 50% hike in their salaries and an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh each. “The cabinet had approved the proposal for a hike in salary, insurance and other things but nothing has happened so far. The matter has been taken to the government and we are waiting for a reply,’’ Krishi Pal Raghuvanshi, inspector general ATS, told TOI.
Underlining the dangers posed by anti-terror operations, a senior member of the squad said his team had trailed a Tata Sumo earlier this month for 150 km and seized 30 kg RDX, 10 AK-47s and 2,000 bullets. “It was such a dangerous operation that had the accused opened fire, someone from our team would have been hit. The job requires that everyone be covered by insurance so that their families can be taken care of,’’ he said.
Additional chief secretary (home) A P Sinha said that he was not aware about the present status of the demand. “I was not on this seat at the time and therefore I don’t know about it’’ Sinha said.
Incidentally, only around 20 personnel in the 125-member squad have got a 50% hike in salaries. The rest—from the inspector general of police to the head constables—have been deprived of these benefits too. “The deputy inspector generals are drawing more salaries than the IGP, the head of the squad,’’ said a source.
The Times of India, May 31, 2006