If Maharashtra’s home department gets it right, by March, Mumbai will get its own special unit of 250 commandos, Force One. The city’s cops will also get three helicopters on hire, 36 speedboats for coastal surveillance and assault rifles for most personnel.
These are some of the items on the home department’s Rs 127-crore terror prepardeness shopping list. “Force One will be created on the lines of the NSG. The commandoes, trained by international experts, will be exclusively for anti-terror operations,’’ explained Home Minister Jayant Patil.
To plug intelligence failures, 85 intelligence personnel will be recruited exclusively to aid in such operations. And the state’s 720-km coastline has a separate security plan that includes 33 coastal police stations, identity cards for fishermen and amendments to maritime laws.
A team of senior police officials is also likely to visit Chicago soon to get first-hand lessons from their counterparts there. In fact, this was one of Patil’s suggestions two years ago, as guardian minister of Mumbai.
“When I was finance minister, I visited Chicago and was quite impressed with that city’s patrolling and surveillance systems. I spent a day tracking them,” said Patil.
What is it about the Chicago police that impressed Patil? Helicopters with night vision and cameras, a central database of criminals, high-tech vehicles that can scan licenses of 3,600 parked vehicles in an hour, and cellphones with GPS. So what do the sceptics say? “Gizmos can’t do everything. We need a more efficient and transparent police force. The police have to be delinked from politics to perform better. Without that real reform is not possible,” said former IPS officer Y.P. Singh.