RAWALPINDI: On Monday, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) operations issued transfer orders for Constable Athia Batool, the first woman to join the Rawalpindi police’s bomb disposal squad (BDS).
The 27-year-old official was transferred soon after she expressed her willingness to train as a bomb disposal expert. She is the only woman on the seven-member squad.
Ms Batool said she was inspired to become a bomb disposal squad after she watched videos of Rafia Qaseem Baig, Pakistan’s first female bomb disposal officer, looking for signs of explosives. “Then I decided to join the BDS,” she added.
Ms Batool joined the police department in 2014, after completing a bachelors in communications, as a constable and later as a moharrar at the front desk. In addition to working in the police force, she is also pursuing an MBA from the Arid Agriculture University.
The senior instructor for the Rawalpindi BDS has been trained by American experts, and the squad is well-equipped with gadgets and bomb-proof kits donated by the United States. On her first day of training, Ms Batool said she learned a lot of new things related to searching suspicious bags.
SSP Operations Mohammad Bin Ashraf confirmed that the BDS had been activated and a woman had joined the squad to be trained to handle explosives.
“She is bold and courageous,” the SSP said, adding that handling explosives is a risky job that requires great courage.
He said Ms Batool will be trained to handle explosive devices, and added that police have had difficulty searching women’s gatherings, and having a woman on the squad would make improve the way that the BDS handles such situations.
Rawalpindi’s BDS includes Ms Batool, Mohammad Imran, Shahzad Khan, Mudassar Ilyas, Qadeer Ahmed and Sadaqat Ali, and squad in-charge Assistant Sub-Inspector Waqar Hussain.
Mr Hussain was part of the four-member team that was trained by American experts in 2009 to use modern gadgets and wear sophisticated bomb disposal suits to protect against explosions and mines.
The suit consists of a ballistic helmet and visor. Bomb disposal experts use x-ray machines, disrupter guns, Jensen toolkits and fibre scopes to look for explosive material inside devices in the dark, as well as armour plates and a stethoscope.