5 Astonishing facts about the Special Group (India)

Ever wondered What is India’s answer to elite units of MI6 or Mossad’s metsada?. Special Group (SG) is our special forces unit that works in the same capacity as those organisations. The unit established in 1981, is at the heart of our covert operations across the globe. It works as a unit under the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The Special Group consists of the toughest Indian soldiers, trained to withstand extreme hardships. This training prepares them to penetrate hostile organisations and work behind enemy lines. Here are 5 astonishing facts about the much dreaded special forces unit:

It has been working covertly for decades

Defence researchers have traced the origins of SG to the 1962 India-China war. After the war, India created the Directorate General of Security (DGS), a classified organisation. with the help of the CIA. In 1968 the Defence Ministry put DGS  under the control of the Research and Analysis Wing. Later in 1982, DGS started a clandestine mission, titled Project Sunray. Under the project, an officer from PARA-SF had to raise an elite team of 250 soldiers.

Special Group (India) - Wikipedia

Also Read: How To Become A SPG Commando And Join Special Protection Group

Mossad trained SG teams in the past

From the soldiers that made it to Project Sunray , Six went to a secret military base in Israel for training under Mossad. The Special forces team of Mossad behind Operation Entebbe conducted the training for several weeks. The goals of the unit have evolved over the years. SG handled Counter-Terrorism and hostage rescue in its infancy. Now the National Security Guard performs those duties, but the actual duties of SG are not classified. SG plans and executes covert operations, the kind of which the GOI doesn’t wish to be associated with.

It has four squadrons each containing four troops.

Special Group has four squadrons, each of which specializes in a different skill-set. These squadrons are each further divided into four troops. Besides combat, they also perform intelligence gathering, operational planning, communications and training. Reports suggest that SG uses the latest and the deadliest of weapons and equipment. The unit comprises volunteers from different branches of our Armed Forces, joining SG under deputation. The headquarters of SG is in Sarsawa, Uttar Pradesh but the primary base is in Chakrata, Uttarakhand. SG functions under the Directorate General of security which in turn functions under the Research and Analysis Wing. RAW reports to the Cabinet Secretariat, which comes under the Prime Minister’s supervision.

SG has been a part of some crucial operations over the years.

In 1983 SG provided the security for the Non-Aligned Movement summit and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The former helped India secure its position as the leader of the movement. In the same year, RAW hatched a covert operation plan to abduct Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. According to the plan titled Operation Sundown, SG had to penetrate the Golden Temple, Amritsar.

A British Officer from Special Air Service arrived in India to assist the operation. A unit formed in the Sarsawa Air Force base prepared for this operation and even conducted rehearsals. In the end, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi rejected the operation. She had apprehensions about the escalation of religious tensions and the risk involved.

They were the first armed force in India to use AK-47 rifles.

To counter the Khalistan threat, our military apparatus initiated ‘Operation Bluestar’ (1984). A Special Group unit came to Amritsar before the operation and planned the military action. Like Operation Sundown, they received the help of British secret services in planning the operation. Equipped with Ak-47 rifles and night vision Goggles, SG started the operation on June 6th 1984. The unit eliminated Bhindranwale and other major Khalistan leaders through swift action. Although 1 PARA-SF claimed credit for this, It is generally accepted now that SG killed Bhindranwale. He was killed using AK-47 rifles, which were only allotted to SG at the time. The commandos that infiltrated the Golden Temple on June 6, 1984, were members of the Indian Army’s Special Group of the 56th Commando Company. They were the first unit of the Indian military to acquire specialised training to combat terrorists who had taken possession of a sensitive public space and dealt with a hostage-like situation.

SG also performed the duty of prime ministerial security before the formation of the Special Protection group (1985). Several Indian covert operations in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka required the expertise of SG. Besides that SG has been part of several shelved operations over the years. This included a planned raid near the Kahuta Nuclear Facility in Pakistan during the Kargil War.

In 1999, Terrorists hijacked the Indian Airlines flight 814 from Kathmandu to Delhi and took it to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Afghanistan was under the control of the Taliban then. The Indian Government considered the possibility of an anti-hijacking operation. GOI asked SG to prepare for a rescue operation. The operation was quashed due to public pressure.

Over the last couple of decades, the unit has shown its extensive expertise in J&K by battling insurgents from beyond the line of control (LOC). SG operatives have also undertaken effective information-gathering operations across the border from terrorist hideouts located in Pak Occupied Kashmir. Over the years, the Special Group has played a significant role in creating tactics, procedures, weaponry, equipment, and SG currently trains other Special Forces. Special Group also collaborates with other secret services around the world on operations against global terror, illegal arms trade etc. Researchers say that routine joint training sessions by these organisations are held at classified locations across the country.

SG has largely remained secretive, adhering to the nature of the operations it performs. For instance its involvement in Operation Sundown was kept under the wraps for many decades and was brought to public attention when media reports citing declassified British governmental documents emerged. Even then the Ministry of Defence didn’t bother explaining the nature or plans of the operation. Hence, it is safe to assume that SG has been involved in numerous other clandestine military operations, the details of which aren’t readily available to the public. Regardless of that, these bravehearts always stand ready for action, working for our nation’s interest in India and abroad as well.

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Aravind J

    Intern at SSBCrackExams. Psychology Undergrad. Defence Enthusiast. Loves Jung, SciFi, and Metal, though not necessarily in the same order all the time.

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