Photos: Altaf Hussain in special arrangement with MLIRC
By Anantha Krishnan MBelgaum: Welcome to ‘Surankot’ – a Kashmiri village far away from Kashmir situated inside the training area of the Maratha Light Infantry and Regimental Centre (MLIRC). It is in this mock-up village soldiers sharpen their skills in counter-insurgency operations. Termed as the Low Intensity Conflict Operation (LICO) Village, it has everything that resembles a Kashmiri ambience, sans the snow.
Express News Service
Express News Service
Belgaum’s Surankot has a Sarpanch House, a LICO Hut, a clinic, a primary school, typical dhoks (traditional Kashmiri huts), place of workship – all erected amidst thick jungle. Interestingly, these houses are not empty, but adequately furnished with essential commodities you may find in a Kashmiri home.
“The LICO Village is one of its kind and we teach the recruits every minute details that are critical while undertaking Search Ops. We incorporate additions from time to time to these installations based on the rich experiences from the instructors, who had been in the forward areas,” says Col KM Bhagwat, Training Battalion Commander.
During a special mock-drill exercise shown to Express, around 20 recruits armed with rifles and stun grenades surrounded the LICO Hut based on inputs that some terrorists are taking shelter in the village. The team was divided into various sub-groups based on the tasks assigned to them – one to provide protection and secure the area, another to enter the house in order to search.
The sensors fitted inside the LICO Hut act as IEDs (improvised explosive devices), to gauge the alertness of the recruits entering it. These sensors are fixed right from the entrance door, on walls, inside cupboards, on utensils, under the doormat and the most crucial area – the stairs. “The hiding terrorists will use every possible items found inside the house to lure the search team into danger. They place the IEDs generally on innocent looking items,” says an Army instructor.
The most-striking feature of Belgaum’s ‘Surankot’ is an underground tunnel that connects one of the rooms in the LICO Hut to an unknown destination outside, which the terrorists may use to escape, when surrounded. “The tunnel is specially provided to tell the recruits that in a real-scenario one cannot rule out the possibilities of such escape routes. The idea is to expose the recruits to the modus-operandi of the terrorists he will encounter while undertaking search operations,” the instructor said.
Interestingly, foreign armies often undertake joint training at MLIRC’s LICO Village. The troops from various countries display their drills in carrying out search operations.
(To be continued)
Copyright@The New Indian Express