“Policemen who die a martyr’s death get accolades, but canine members go unnoticed.”
Bravery is an attribute that knows no bounds. A heroic display of courage, facing fear point blank without a flinch is what makes any living being brave- be it a human or an animal. This is the brave tale of Zanjeer the canine, who has risen the bar for who we hold as brave in hindsight.
Zanjeer was a Labrador-Retriever who, following his ready wit and exemplary courage, saved the lives of thousands destined to die when Mumbai was rocked by twelve bomb blasts in March 1993. The blasts had already brutally snatched the lives of 257 people, leaving 713 injured.
Named after the famous 1973 Bollywood action film and lovingly called Ginger because of his coat color, Zanjeer was not just a typical sniffer dog – he was practically the best bomb detector in the squad.
Trained at the Dog Training Centre of the Criminal Investigation Department at Shivaji Nagar in Pune, Zanjeer was a very important member of the bomb detection squad. In the ill-fated Mumbai blasts in 1993, the heroic canine averted three more bombs in the days following the blasts; detected over 3329 kg of RDX explosives, 600 detonators, 249 hand grenades, and more than 6000 rounds of live ammunition. In his career span, Zanjeer detected illegal contraband inclusive of 175 petrol bombs, 57 country-made bombs, 11 military bombs, 600 detonators, and more than 200 grenades.
When the Mumbai Police Dog Squad became operational in 1959, there were only three Doberman Pinschers in the squad, namely Kumar, Bindo and Rajah, who were primarily used for tracking and solving criminal cases. The increase in terrorism led to the training of additional sniffer dogs who could detect explosives, ammunition and narcotics. In 1993, when the Mumbai blasts took place, there were six dogs, inclusive of Zanjeer, in the Mumbai Police Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad.
Today, most Indian State Police forces use Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers in their dog squads. The street dogs are not left behind either. The Delhi Police has taken an additional step by recruiting and training several street dogs and utilize them for security purposes. Likewise, the National Security Guards have inducted the Malinois (Belgian Shepherd Dogs) breed into their K-9 Unit. The Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force use the Rajapalayam (Indian Sighthound) breed as guard dogs to support their work.
The hero of our story, Zanjeer risked his life time and again, for the love he had for his handlers, Ganesh Andale and V G Rajput. His display of undaunted courage and heroics laid the foundation for induction of other strong sniffer dog squads in state police forces across the country. This brave and loyal canine left for heavenly abode in November 2000 due to bone cancer when he was just eight years of age. He was buried with full state honors, with his fellow officers laying floral wreaths on the courageous canine before he was buried.
Despite the fast- paced lifestyle of Mumbai and its people, Zanjeer is still missed to the core. Mr. Dilip Mohite, an ardent dog lover, and a city-based labour leader and president of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Pratishthan by profession, has been observing Zanjeer’s death anniversary on November 16 for the past 16 years. He proudly states:
ScripBros, in an attempt to salute the nation’s heroes is proud to present the tale of the bravest and the most loyal canine the nation has ever seen, so that his contribution does not go unnoticed.