'Terrorists focusing on islands as safe havens' | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'Terrorists focusing on islands as safe havens'

Global terrorists are turning their attention towards islands as safe havens and may join pirates to form relationships of convenience, experts said, stressing that India needs to put greater emphasis on its coastal and island security.

delhi Updated: Jan 08, 2011 20:10 IST

Global terrorists are turning their attention towards islands as safe havens and may join pirates to form relationships of convenience, experts said, stressing that India needs to put greater emphasis on its coastal and island security.

Director of the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) Commodore (retired) C Uday Bhaskar said the threat of pirates and Islamist terrorists forming a confluence was serious.

"In recent months there has been a certain pattern and number of incidents suggesting that terrorists were looking at islands as safe havens and this was causing a growing concern over the security of our islands and coastal areas," Bhaskar told IANS on the sidelines of the inaugural session of the lecture series by the NMF on maritime awareness in India.

The lecture was organised on Friday evening at the India Habitat Centre.

"We have to be careful and put greater emphasis on our coastal and island security," said Bhaskar, a noted defence analyst who organized the lecture series.

He said the Andaman and Nicobar Islands had in the past become a hub of drug trafficking and gun running and it was not a mistake to assume that the pirates and radical Islamic terrorist groups may become business partners.

Chief of the Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Anup Singh, the main speaker, in his lecture on the "Untapped Maritime Wealth of India" said a safe and secure environment was required for utilizing the untapped maritime wealth in the exclusive economic zone of India that includes deep sea mining, fishing, oil and gas exploration and trade.

He said if the pirate threat "remains unchecked there may occur a situation where pirates and terrorists may join each other. There are areas of opportunities for them and to tackle this India has to remain on alert". Singh didn't elaborate further.

Anup Singh in his lecture said there was a growing need to tap the maritime treasure of India and cited how China has made steady and fast strides towards this direction.

He said during 2009-10 major and non-major ports in India had a total cargo throughput of 850 million tonnes. "Throughput growth should be 15 percent and right now it is five percent," he told a gathering.

He said there was a sure but slow growth in the process of exploitation of maritime potential. He said particular interest needed to be paid to activities in the exclusive economic zone, deep sea mining, fishing, oil and gas exploration and trade.

Former navy chief and chairman NMF Admiral (retd) Arun Prakash chaired the session that was attended by academicians, naval officers and students.