Lucknow, Jan 12: Roughly five kilometres from Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport, off Lucknow-Kanpur Highway and amid an expanse of muddy terrain, stands an imposing gateway. 
To a layman, the signage SPOT displayed at the gate could, at the most, give an impression of yet another upcoming residential colony. But make no mistake! Beyond the gateway lies a spanking new facility where an elite team of commandos is taking shape. A team that is being groomed to take on any threat or challenge posed by the modern-day law-and-order situations, especially activities of home-grown radical elements inspired by foreign terror outfits.
The Special Operations Team (SPOT) of Uttar Pradesh Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has been set up to reach ‘ground zero’, hold forte till their ‘big brothers’, National Security Guard (NSG) commandos, from Delhi arrive and take control.
“However, SPOT commandos would not just wait and watch. Depending on the urgency of the situation they would respond, if required, with lethal effect, especially in ‘hostage situation’ or escalated armed combat situations,” clarifies the energetic ATS Inspector-General of Police Asim Arun. 
“The idea is to respond to crisis situations swiftly and tackle and contain the challenges without having to wait for NSG team to arrive.”
It may be recalled that during Gujarat’s Akshardham Temple terror attack and Maharashtra’s Mumbai terror attacks, NSG teams took a long time to reach the trouble spots due to various operational and logistical issues.
SPOT commandos will be equipped with sophisticated weaponry such as Uzis and Kalashnikovs as primary weapons, Glock pistols as secondary weapons and daggers that could be used in case a commando runs out of ammunition, or a weapon develops a fault. 
Their bullet-resistant jackets would ensure that they remain safe during risky operations. For shock-and-awe tactic, the each commando is armed with a stun grenade.
“We are ready for any eventuality and wouldn’t hesitate to take on the enemy at any level. We know our job is fraught with dangers, but we are not afraid of even death. If ‘Fidayeen’ don’t fear death, why should we?” said one of the commandos when UNI visited the ATS commando training centre.
The commandos are undergoing various kinds of motivational courses wherein they are taught to remain calm, stay focused on the target, coordinate movements through body signals, provide cover to the members of the team in action and, if need be, take on the enemy in a hand-to-hand combat.
The commandos have also been trained for carrying out nocturnal operations with the aid of sophisticated infrared and laser-guided weaponry. 
To make SPOT available for deployment at short notice and for commandos to reach trouble spots swiftly, nine teams have been formed and scattered across several zones. Three teams would be undergoing training and refresher courses, while one each will be stationed in Agra, Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Ghaziabad, and two teams will always be in ‘alert mode’ at Lucknow’s airport. The teams stationed at the airport would be responding to probable aircraft hijack situations in the state.
IG ATS Asim Arun points out that UP, especially Ayodhya and Allahabad, is on the radar of international terror outfits. “Ayodhya is because of the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, and Allahabad because of the upcoming mega Kumbh Mela. We have alarming intelligence inputs from state and central agencies, hence we can’t leave anything to chance,” he says.
“Our boys are highly motivated and dedicated. They are young, energetic and have an aptitude to act responsibly in any given situation. Some of them are even itching for action after undergoing rigorous training involving stamina-building, endurance and strength,” says Arun with a sense of pride.
When asked about professional and financial benefits for commandos, Arun says special incentivised pay scales have been earmarked for SPOT commandos so that they go about their risky jobs without any sense of financial or professional insecurity.
IG ATS Asim Arun is all praise for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath “who is taking special interest in the SPOT project and facilitating funds.”
To make the Anti-Terrorism Squad, specially SPOT, highly effective, small and big luxury buses, special utility vehicles (SUVs), trucks and armoured vehicles have been included in the shopping list. Besides, bomb disposal detection and disposal teams would be equipped with state-of-the-art gadgetry.
The ATS already possesses an efficient electronic surveillance system which is being used by tech-savvy personnel. UNI
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