The tiers of security were virtually non-existent when Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and nine other Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists hijacked MV Kuber to carry out the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in 2008.
However, four years later, security around Mumbai has transformed, said senior police officials. A 24x7 all-weather coastal surveillance project — an integrated network of radars, day and night electro-optical equipment, Automated Identification System (AIS) and meteorological equipment monitored by the Indian Coast Guards —now ensures visuals of even a human body within 20 nautical miles off the coast. The World War II weapons such as the .303 rifle is now a weapon of the past. Today, the Mumbai police is a more well- armed unit.
The force is now equipped with M 4 Colt 5.56 Carbines, Heckler and Koch MP 5’s, Brugger and Thomet MP 9’s, Smith and Wesson MP 9mm pistol and M-82 Special Applications Rifle. Apart from the bulletproof vehicles it procured post 26/11, the Mumbai police also floated tenders to procure bulletproof tyres and aerial reconnaissance vehicle, added officials.
Rakesh Maria, additional director general, Anti-Terrorism Squad said, “We were at a disadvantage when the 26/11 terror attack happened. However, today we are prepared for the worst possible scenario.”
While the realisation of a National Security Guard (NSG) hub in Mumbai has given the city a near three-tier security arrangement, the state’s own commando force – Force 1- has been propped up to ensure it has adequate skill and fire power to deal as the first line of force in times of contingency.
The Indian coast guard too has augmented its force levels. Apart from opening coast guard stations at Dahanu, Ratnagiri and Murud-Janjira, it has planned to operate 42 coast guard stations across the country’s 7500 kilometre-long coastline.
“We had 22 coast guard stations across the country in 2008; 10 more stations have now been added and we plan to add 10 more by the end of next year,” said a coast guard official requesting anonymity.
The force plans to have 120 vessels and wants to operate 60 aircrafts by 2013. SPS Basra, inspector general, coast guard (Western region) said: “We have planned a step-by-step progression to ensure the coastline is safe.”