The truth about the bioweapon hazard story

If weaponised viruses are indeed at work, then India’s biological warfare preparedness is sure to receive a boost.

 |  2-minute read |   20-04-2020
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In 1345, the Mongol general Jani Beg was mortified as a Bubonic Plague cut down thousands of his soldiers. Unable to overrun the citadel of Cafa (present day Feodosia), he extracted a terrible revenge before retreating.

Bodies of his dead soldiers were loaded on catapults and lobbed into the city. This apocryphal story is frequently cited as evidence of the first bio-weapons attack in history. The plague was actually introduced into Europe by infected Genoese sailors but the siege of Cafa has become fodder for military thought. Seven centuries later, militaries still worry about their adversaries weaponising viruses.

army-jawan_042020105007.jpgMilitaries still worry about their adversaries weaponising viruses. (Photo: ANI)

New theories blaming China for the outbreak have resurfaced in the US, the country hit hardest by the coronavirus. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “There was going to be a full investigation on how the virus got out into the world”. There is considerable speculation — denied by China — that the virus in fact leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

If weaponised viruses are indeed at work, then India’s biological warfare fighting preparedness is sure to receive a boost. India’s frugal military germ-fighting capability currently centres around the DRDO’s Gwalior-based DRDE. The laboratory is part of the DRDO’s Life Sciences cluster which attracted flak for producing mosquito repellents, fruits and vegetables in recent years. The laboratory is now engaged in providing its testing expertise to health care providers including the Indian Army. The armed forces are learning live lessons in defensive bio-warfare capabilities as they assist civil authorities to fight the pandemic.

The Army says it hasn’t seen a let up in counter-terrorism operations or infil tration attempts along the Line of Control. In one of the bloodiest encounters in recent times, a five-man special forces team fought a pitched battle with a group of five infiltrators in the Keran sector in early April and died to the last man. Troops of the Northern Command have already been given detailed instructions forbidding them from handling bodies of terrorists without wearing personal protection equipment.

A senior army commander believes Pakistan is pushing COVID-19 infected terrorists across the border. General Jani Beg’s strategy at work?

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

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Sandeep Unnithan Sandeep Unnithan @sandeepunnithan

The writer is Executive Editor, India Today.

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