75 ITBP commandos to guard Kasab 24x7

Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the November 26 Mumbai attacks, is now being guarded 24x7 by as many as 75 commandos in Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail. The commandos are personnel from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the paramilitary force which guards the President and Vice-President of India and more than a dozen high-profile dignitaries.

While the Mumbai Police continues to handle overall security of the prison, the ITBP men have been mandated with a single-point task guarding Kasab. The Anda Cell (egg-shaped cell) that houses Kasab is now surrounded by close to four dozen ITBP men at all times. The rest of the men guard the prison's periphery and other key locations.

ITBP has sent some of its best personnel on this assignment despite the fact that the force finds itself in a bit of a quandary for having to guard a terrorist lodged inside a high-security prison cell.

"Our men are used to guarding high-profile VIPs. This is a unique assignment for us and will be a good learning experience," an ITBP official said. Since its men are already positioned at Delhi's Tihar Jail, the force has some prior experience of securing prisons against terror strikes.

Anticipating all kinds of eventualities in Mumbai, the 300-odd ITBP men are being deployed in eight-hour shifts in the prison and are armed with sophisticated weaponry and communication equipment.

"The personnel who have gone to Mumbai have had extensive commando training at the ITBP Academy in Mussorie. They have been trained in counter-insurgency operations and VIP security duties at an altitude of over 6,000 feet," the official added.

The Mumbai Police specially requisitioned deployment of ITBP personnel from the Ministry of Home Affairs for this assignment. "This is just a reflection of how highly the ITBP is rated when it comes to guarding people," the offical said.

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