Ill-fitting bullet-proof vests, riot helmets, .303 Enfield rifles, World War II carbine sub-machine guns, bulky self-loading rifles and vehicles that cannot speed over 50 kmph — this is the ammunition the Mumbai police has to counter a terror attack of the magnitude of the one Mumbai has battled for over 48 hours.
The terrorists, armed with sophisticated weapons such as AK-47s and hand grenades, left the Mumbai police weak and exposed their ill preparedness.
Without a match for the terrorists’ ammunition and losing some top officers to their bullets, the police had no option but to wait for the National Security Guard (NSG) commandos to arrive.
The NSG are not only armed to the teeth but are also well trained to deal with such situations.
This is not the first time that a city’s police force has shown helpless dependence on the NSG.
On September 24, 2002, when young, armed militants attacked the world acclaimed Swaminarayan Temple at Akshardham, the Gujarat police faced a similar problem.
For lack of enough equipment or expertise, they were forced to wait for the NSG to arrive from Delhi.
The Mumbai police have tried to create a similar set up here with the recent formation of the ‘Quick Reaction Teams’ (QRT).
The idea of the QRT is to deal with such emergencies and the police had planned to give them equipment and training on the lines of the NSG. The project, however, has hit bureaucratic roadblocks.
The Mumbai police, in fact, do not even have enough cartridges to provide members of the QRT routine training.
Police officials refuse to say anything on record but off-the-record admit that no police force in any city in India is equipped or trained to handle an attack as well planned and intensive as the one Mumbai is facing now.
“Right now the NSG is our only hope and option,” said a top policeman.