The March 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai which saw more than 250 people losing their lives is remembered as one of the darkest times in India’s national security history. Along with thousands of officials of the security agencies working in Mumbai were also the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) of the state police. Zanjeer, the hero ‘Golden Retriever’ responsible for sniffing out more than 3,330 kgs of RDX, more than 600 detonators, 2489 hand grenades, more than 600 rounds of live ammunition and ultimately saving thousands of innocent lives, was also a part of the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) also played an instrumental role in averting several bomb blasts.
Named after the 1973 Amitabh Bachchan blockbuster, Zanjeer was just a year old when he had joined Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) in December 1992. According to then BDDS chief Nandkumar Choughule, Zanjeer was trained in Pune, he recalls “Zanjeer was god sent. In Mumbra, when men were unable to track down the explosives, it was Zanjeer who helped locate 32 gunny bags of RDX”.
The detection of a scooter bomb on Dhanji Street on 15th March 1993 shot Zanjeer to fame, Zanjeer was taken around the two-wheelers parked near the BDDS office, and he soon gave the red signal by barking thrice. Those three barks saved a lot of innocent lives in Mumbai; Zanjeer also indicated that the bomb could be in the front section of the scooter.
We used a rope and a hook to open it and found three polythene bags, containing RDX and gelatin sticks, attached to a pencil timer,” recalled Nandkumar Choughule.
The real challenge for Zanjeer came later when ten unclaimed suitcases were found on a hand-cart near the Siddhivinayak temple. The area was cordoned off and Zanjeer was called to rescue. Zanzeer immediately alerted the BDDS staff who later recovered 200 grenades, three AK 56 rifles, five 9-mm pistols and several live cartridges.
Looking at the services provided by Zanjeer in Mumbai, several state governments had also decided to include a specialized dog sniffer unit in their respective police forces. Today most of the state governments have different breeds of dogs inducted in their respective police forces. The Delhi Police going a step forward has inducted and trained stray dogs for the same purpose. The National Security guard (NSG) has also included Belgian Shepherds in their K-9 unit while the Central Reserve Police Force has inducted, Indian breed Rajapalayam to aid their missions.
Zanjeer died in November 2000 at the age of just 8 years fighting bone cancer, he was buried with all the state honors while the nation paid homage to his invaluable service which will surely be remembered by generations to come.