GREATER NOIDA: Dog 'Sophia' and horse 'Thunderbolt'-- the four-legged soldiers of border guarding force ITBP-- today created history by becoming the first animals which were decorated with special service medals. While seven-year-old Thunderbolt is part of the Animal Transport unit of the force, 'lifeline' of the force at high-altitude forward posts, 3-year-old Sophia undertakes special sniffingoperations to detect IEDs with her handler in Left Wing extremism hit areas of Chhattisgarh. Indo-Tibetan Border Police chief Krishna Chaudhary decorated the two during the celebrations of the 55th Raisng day of the force in Greater Noida.
The two dutifully marched up to the saluting dais and bowed their heads to receive the medals even as the DG offered them 'ladoos' as a token of appreciation for their work.
Dog 'Sophia' became one of the first animals which were decorated with special service medals.
While Sophia is credited with successfully sanitising events attended by VVIP dignitaries, including numerous functions attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has sniffed out numerous Improvised Explosive Devices in the Naxal theatre, Thunderstorm has worked for a number of years in providing rations and ammunition to high-altitude ITBP posts along the China border under hazardous climate, blizzards and thin oxygen.
This is the first time that a security force had taken such a step and had minted special medals in this regard. Till now, the exemplary work by the four-legged soldiers in ITBP was recognised by issuing regular commendation cards by the force chief or others.
ITBP spokesperson Deputy Commandant Vivek K Pandey said the awarding of medals is a step to "recognise and thank the selfless service provided by these silent soldiers."
A senior official said the force has made a beginning in recognising the exemplary and loyal support of these animals who literally walk shoulder-to-shoulder with the men in uniform whether in operations or any task in the internal security domain.
While the mountain-trained force has been credited for inducting the first breed of Belgian Malinois dogs for anti-Naxal operations in the country and other tough assignments like infantry patrols few years back, the force traditionally has a strong animal transport unit comprising horses, mules and ponies to aid troops guarding the high-altitude posts along the 3,488 km long China border.
The 80,000-personnel strong ITBP was raised in 1962 in the aftermath of the Chinese aggression and the force, apart from rendering border guarding duties, is tasked to carry out various activities in the internal security domain in the country.
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