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Eight years after 26/11: Mumbai still remains vulnerable


Even though eight years have passed ever since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks have occurred but the city remains unprepared to avert such incidents in future. Questions are being raised about the security of railway stations and coastal areas as there is lack of adequate security personnel to man these areas. The state government had planned to upgrade the security of vital establishments like railway stations, stock exchange, religious places and tourist destinations but most of them exist only on paper.  The gruesome terror attack had claimed 164 lives and 308 people sustained injuries.

The proposal to impart training to police personnel and strengthen intelligence gathering mechanism has failed to gather momentum. There was also a delay in starting the CCTV surveillance project to avert terror incidents due to the slow paced decision making of the erstwhile Democratic Front government.  Installation of transponders on fishing vessels, distress alert transmitters and radio beacons on all fishing vessels are yet to be completed in the state.

For strengthening coastal security the government had planned to set up 12 coast police station but only two are functioning one in the island city and other in western suburbs. The proposal to construct police chowkies and jetties is yet to commence due to bureaucratic hassles. For averting terror incidents the government had issued a circular to coastal states for issuing biometric cards to fisherman and compulsory registration of boats. However, large number of fishermen in Mumbai are yet to receive biometric cards from the government. Unregistered vessels indulging in illegal sand dredging in Palghar, around 90kms to the north of Mumbai, pose a threat to the Tarapur atomic installation.

Every year the government pay tributes to the victims of 26/11 terror attack and announce various projects to beef up coastal security but after the function everything is forgotten. The kin of 68 of 166 victims are yet to receive any compensation from the central government.

A two-member committee headed by former Governor and Union Home Secretary R D Pradhan had been appointed to examine the government’s response to terror attacks. Various measures have been suggested for enhancing coastal security and providing training to police force and offering them better equipments to counter terror.

According to State Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Atulchandra Kulkarni the suggestions made by the Ram Pradhan committee is being implemented in a phased manner. “Amendmends have been made in the functioning of the ATS and its jurisdiction. ATS units are operational in all important regions of the state. The police force is equipped with modern arms and weapons,”

On the other hand, Mumbai Police Commissioner Datta Padsalgikar said that the force is prepared to face any terror threat.

“We are ready to tackle any terror threat. Our personnel are fully geared to meet any eventuality. Since Mumbai is the financial capital of the nation, so it always faces a threat from terror organisations.  The police force is always prepared to secure the city which has international importance,” he said.

“Several initiatives have been taken by the government to secure Mumbai. Police now have modern equipment and are on constant vigil. They remain alert to provide safety to citizens,” the senior IPS officer said.

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