Several policies have been formed to beef up the coastal security in the aftermath of 26/ 11 terror incident but most of them only exist on paper.
Even though seven years have passed ever since Mumbai witnessed the gruesome 26/11 terror attack but the city remains unprepared to face another terror incident. Mumbai being the financial capital of India is always vulnerable to terror attacks. The snail-paced investigations of the 26/11 incident also raise questions whether India will be able to nab the culprits responsible for terror attack. Several policies have been formed to beef up the coastal security in the aftermath of this incident but most of them only exist on paper. The bullet proof jackets that were procured after the attacks are yet to be received by the police department. The porous coast of the state is major cause of concern with an ageing fleet of patrol boats struggling to monitor the coastline. The long coastline comprises numerous creeks and inlets overgrown with mangroves that provide ideal hideouts for extremists and make monitoring a nightmare.
“We need to have night vision binoculars to look out at the sea. Unless we hear it, we won’t know that there is a boat coming,” said a policeman on the condition of anonymity.
According to Damodar Tandel, president of Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti, there is a report with the coast guard that highlights how illegal fishing trawlers are putting Mumbai’s coastal security at risk.
“In the past two months we ourselves have been conducting raids and have caught more than 15 illegal fishing vehicles at Sasson dock but there was no action by the fisheries department or by Mumbai police,” said Tandel.
A fisherman on the condition of anonymity said, “Police demand bribes from the fishermen and fail to discharge their duties amicably. They also harass fishermen and demand fishes from them. They should stop troubling genuine fishermen.”
State police have just 70 patrol boats to cover the coastline and a third of these vessels are always in for repairs. The government is waiting for 24 more patrol vessels promised by the Centre.
Former Mumbai police commissioner M N Singh laid emphasis on the upgradation of technology to improve policing in the city. “One cannot say that Mumbai police can ever be fully prepared to tackle such kind of attack as with changing times even the terror outfits are adapting to new technologies but considering our capability in 2008, I believe we are in much better position to respond now.”
The Mumbai Police had procured X-ray scanning van worth RS 7 crore for detecting explosives but it is not functioning since last few years and is parked inside the Mumbai police headquarters.
“I don’t know the ground reality but all these are administrative lapses and it needs to be sorted on priority basis as the city can’t be left exposed to anti-social elements,” said Singh.
But Maharashtra lags behind other states in coastal terror preparedness. Kerala and Tamil Nadu have ensured better monitoring; Tamil Nadu makes a note of every fishing boat going into the sea. The aftermath of the attacks also saw a National Committee on Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security being set up.