One-year-old Hale with her trainer-cum-handler BK Mishra in Bokaro on Tuesday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
He’s tall, dark and sharp, she’s tall, fair and probably sharper. Together, this pair of super sleuths are out to combat industrial crime across 40,000 acres of Bokaro Steel Limited (BSL) in a district beset by Maoists. And though the duo are pure vegetarians, they can eat explosives before breakfast if they want to.
What sounds like a gripping television crime thriller series is actually true. Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel have procured two sniffer dogs, Lara and Hale, both Labradors, to Bokaro to help them patrol the vast campus.
Lara, the one-and-half year old male Lab, is jet black. Hale, the one-year-old female one, is snow white. As puppies, both look equally adorable. But make no mistake. Both, procured from Hyderabad and trained for seven months each by trainer S.K. Soren in CISF dog breeding and training centre, Ghaziabad, can sniff explosives planted 20 feet away or buried 3-5 feet underground.
The vegetarian canines stay at an air-cooled kennel at the CISF Centre in Bokaro Steel City. Their trainer-cum-handler B.K. Mishra, when contacted, said he was proud of his wards.
“Both Lara and Hale, who reached here in January and March-end, are very intelligent, obedient and energetic. Hale even won the first prize among 14 dogs in detecting a series of explosives hidden at different spots at a competition in Ghaziabad in February 2014,” he said.
The Labs were procured as part of a security beef-up measure after the Union ministry of home affairs tabled a report in January 2014 citing concerns that subversive elements, including Maoists, might target Bokaro steel plant with explosives.
Both the Labs assist 1,500 CISF personnel in patrolling 40,000 acres comprising the steel plant and adjoining areas.
It is a job made tougher by small hamlets that exist on the campus as well as the number of four-wheelers, trucks and dumpers that enter and exit the plant every day.
“At 40,000 acres, imagine the expanse of this place. Protection is a Herculean task,’ he said.
The CISF DIG added that three years back, the steel plant campus was open from all sides and petty thieves took away metal and other valuable items even in broad daylight.
“Matters improved after the construction of a 5sqkm boundary wall in 2010-end at a cost of Rs 10 crore, as the plant roughly saved Rs 1,000 crore in theft. Right now, the two Labs as well as 10 CISF men on bikes patrol the plant’s entry points stringently,” he said.
A third Lab will join Lara and Hale by this year-end, he added. More the merrier, we say.