Post 26/11, Chennai has shaped up in to major security hub for the South with the setting up of a National Security Guards unit as well as a chain of coastal police stations, bolstered by the Coast Guard and Navy, to avert a repeat of Mumbai-style terror attack.
Saddled with the responsibility of guarding a long coastline of 1076 km, Tamil Nadu police, in coordination with
the Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force, is undertaking periodic security reviews and upgrading security infrastructure, top police officials told PTI.
"We have the unique distinction of having Sri Lanka on the East which had been in turmoil. Whether it is Pakistan or
Bangladesh, the threat was more land-based. But as regards Sri Lanka, it has been sea-based as smuggling has always been a matter of concern for us as the LTTE, in its days of yore, was involved in smuggling of gold, silver and drugs," they said.
The threat perception has increased with some religious fundamentalist groups such as the Jamat-ud-Dawa, a front
organisation of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, making foray into Sri Lanka, prompting formation of special teams to face up to the new challenges emanating from them, even though the LTTE ceased to exist after it was defeated by the Sri Lankan Army.
They said though there were no specific cases but infiltration attempts have "become a real danger."
Tamil Nadu became the first state in the country to come up with the Coastal Security Group, the sea wing of the state
police, in 1998 as LTTE grew stronger following withdrawal of the Indian Peace Keeping Force.
The elaborate coastal security infrastructure was further beefed up with the establishment of 125-strong NSG unit on the outskirts of Chennai, which officials say was ready for deployment to meet any eventuality in the southern region.
The unit is strategically placed at a location just a 15-minute drive from the airport on the southern suburbs.
"The biggest lesson learnt from the Mumbai carnage is the 14-hour delay in NSG reaching Mumbai. These commandos are
going to be the first striking force and therefore is a nodal unit," they said, adding, the Chennai unit along with its
Hyderabad counterpart covers all the four southern states, including the country's IT capital, Bangalore.
Besides, the state police has its own strong contingent of strike commando force to deal with any urban terror
The districts are not being left behind either, as Quick Reaction Teams (QRT) trained to deal with contingency are also in place, officials said adding, they are the first line of defence in districts with their own Standard Operating
Operation Barricade-style exercises and mock drills are also being conducted to test the preparedness of the agencies,
the officials said.
"The Coast Guard has a SOP while the CSG is coming up with its own SOP stressing on strengthening infrastructure,"
with the induction of high-speed boats as announced by the Centre in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
As part of strengthening coastal security, the state police has set up 12 marine police stations and outposts and
84 checkposts in 13 coastal districts, besides more than 500 vigilance committees comprising locals, the officials said.
The police have launched a toll-free number, 1093, to enable people to inform them about any suspicious activities
on the coast.
Considering that fishermen are the first line of information, police have been sensitising them on sea-borne
attacks, the officials said.
Fishermen are even involved in the multi-agency Operation Barricade, the exercise undertaken to review the preparedness in case of a sea-borne terror strike, targeting vital installations such as the nuclear plants in Kalpakkam and Koodankulam, both located near the sea.
Officials said that the two nuclear installations were given security cover involving the CISF, Army and Air Force.
While the CISF and Army will provide land-based security and other required logistical supply, IAF aircraft from bases
in Tambaram near Chennai and Thanjavur would be pressed into service in case the Kalpakkam and Koodankulam nuclear power plants came under attack.
Navy and CG have intensified deep-sea patrolling besides protecting the country's vital installations whose regular
security audit involving the IB and others was being done.