National Security Guards (NSG) are India’s premier counter-terrorism force, created by the Cabinet Secretariat under the National Security Guard Act of 1985. The NSG operates under the oversight of the Ministry of Home Affairs and is headed by the Director General of the Indian Police Service (IPS). The NSG members are also known as “Black Cats” because of the black nomex coveralls and balaclavas or assault helmets they wear.
The NSG’s roles include protecting VIPs, conducting anti-sabotage checks, rescuing hostages, neutralizing terrorist threats to vital installations, engaging terrorists and responding to hijacking and piracy. The NSG is much sought after for VVIP security for high-risk VVIPs in India; this task is done by the SRG of the NSG.
NSG’s specific goals include:
- Neutralization of terrorist threats
- Handling hijacking situations in air and on land
- Engaging and neutralizing terrorists in specific situations
- Rescue of hostages
The NSG has a total personnel strength of about 7,500. The main units are – the Special Action Group (SAG) and the Special Rangers Group. The SAG is the offensive wing drawn from members of the Indian Army. The SRG consists of members from other paramilitary forces such as the Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). There are other specialized units also.
The NSG Training Centre is a Centre of Excellence and the National Bomb Data Centre holds international conferences.
They continue updating their weaponry and surveillance devices to have state-of-the-art equipment. The training regimen is extremely regular and thorough. The Force is also parachute trained.
The NSG was established under the National Security Guard Act of 1986, in response to the 1984 Operation Bluestar, the storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian military, which caused widespread damage to the temple and heavy casualties, including civilians. The operation highlighted the need for a special force to conduct counter-terrorist operations with greater efficiency.
The NSG commandos were first used to combat the insurgency movement in the Indian state of Punjab in 1985. They have now evolved into a counter-terrorist unit and have been continuing major combat operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
The NSG has been deployed only rarely since its birth. Recently, it achieved considerable success in eliminating the terrorists who infiltrated the Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
Some of the NSG’s previous operations include:
- May 12, 1988 — assault on the Golden Temple during Operation Black Thunder II
- April 25, 1994 — rescue of hijacked plane Indian Airlines Boeing 737 during Operation Ashwamedh
- October, 1998 — major combat missions in Jammu and Kashmir
- July 15, 1999 — rescue of 12 hostages held by armed Islamic activists who had stormed an apartment complex in Kashmir and killed 4 people
- September 25, 2002 — operation to free hostages held by Islamic terrorists who had killed 26 worshippers at the Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
- 2008 – Mumbai counter-terrorist attacks