Modi lauds role of Army dogs, calls for adopting native breeds

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitched his ‘vocal for local’ campaign in an entirely new domain – that of the canines. Calling for the adoption of “fabulous” Indian dog breeds, Modi said they are cheaper to raise and adapt better to the Indian environment even as he revealed that the Indian security forces too were increasingly inducting these local breeds.

The country came to know about the Army dogs after Modi praised their role in sniffing out explosives, mines and terrorists besides disaster relief operations. In his monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’, Modi named two dogs ‘Sophie’ and ‘Vida’ — who were awarded Chief of Army Staff commendation cards on August 15 this year — saying these trained canines received this honour because they performed their duties diligently while protecting their country.

‘Vida,’ the dog from an Army Dog Unit located in Northern Command, was conferred the medal for detecting five mines and one grenade buried underground. ‘Sophie’ of Special Frontier Force (Bomb Disposal Squad) sniffed out the presence of initiator/accelerant which could have been hastily used to fabricate an IED, thereby saving precious lives.

“Our armed forces and security forces have many such brave dogs who not only live for the country but also sacrifice themselves for the country,” he said.

Five Labradors were awarded commendation cards on Army Day 2020 for helping soldiers track down terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and sniffing out deadly explosives in the North-east last year. The army has more than 1,000 dogs trained for a variety of roles such as detecting mines and explosives, tracking, assault, infantry patrol, and search and rescue.

Mansi, a Labrador, was posthumously “mentioned in dispatches” (the highest honour that a dog can get in military service in India) four years ago for her role in a counter-infiltration operation in north Kashmir. Her handler, Bashir Ahmed War, was posthumously awarded Sena Medal for gallantry.

In his address, Modi also highlighted the actions of another dog Balaram, who detected explosives on the Amarnath Yatra route and Bhavana, who sniffed out an improvised explosive device (IED) many years ago but was killed as terrorists managed to trigger the explosive.

“Two or three years ago in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, a sniffer dog Cracker of the CRPF also attained martyrdom in an IED blast. You might have seen a very moving scene on TV a few days ago in which the Beed Police were giving their canine colleague Rocky a final farewell with all due respect. Rocky had helped the police in solving over 300 cases,” the Prime Minister said.

Favouring Indian breed dogs, he said indigenous dogs such Mudhol Hound, Himachali Hound, Rajapalayam, Kanni, Chippiparai and Kombai were “fabulous,” cheaper to raise and adapted better to the Indian environment. “The next time you think of raising a pet dog, consider bringing home one of these Indian breeds. At a time when Atmanirbhar Bharat is becoming a mantra of the people, how can any domain be left untouched by its influence,” he said.

In the last one year, the dogs have contributed to 53 successful missions for the Indian Army, including tracking of terrorists and recovering individuals from snow-bound areas. In over 30 instances, these canines have sniffed out IEDs/Explosives.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) also uses specially trained dozens of dogs for rescue operations. In the event of an earthquake, building collapse, these dogs are experts in searching out people trapped under debris.

The superiority of these canine soldiers employed has led to increasing demand for these dogs from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia. Japan also showed interest in the training standards of Indian Army canines when their Chief of Staff visited the Dog Training Facility at Meerut in 2017.

Moreover, these dogs have also saved lives during avalanches, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The Army has eight different trades of dogs: tracker, guard, mine detection, explosive detection, infantry patrol, avalanche rescue operations, search and rescue, assault and narcotic detection.