The tiers of security was virtually non-existent, when Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and nine other Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists hijacked MV Kuber in the high sea to carry out the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in 2008. And the security establishments were clueless on that night.
But four years since the terrorists laid a siege for 60 hours, security around Mumbai - albeit slow progress - 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 of the coast. And the rather jaded fight that Mumbai police put against the terrorists with its World War II weapons like the .303 rifle is one of the past. With lessons learnt out of the 26/11 terrorist attack, Mumbai police stands a much-better equipped force.
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 9 mm pistol and M-82 Special Applications Rifle. Apart from the bullet proof vehicles it procured post 26/11 attack, Mumbai police also floated tenders to procure bullet proof tyres and aerial reconnaissance vehicle, added officials.
Rakesh Maria, additional director general (ATS) said, "We were at a disadvantage when 26/11 terror attack happened. But today the force has changed. We are trained, better equipped, and are prepared for the worst possible scenario."
While the realization of a National Security Guard (NSG) hub in Mumbai, has given Mumbai a near three-tier security arrangement, the state's own commando force - Force 1- has been propped up to ensure that it has adequate skill and fire power to deal as the first line of force in times of contingency.
The Indian Coast Guards too has augmented its force levels in after the 26/11 attack. 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, since then 10 more stations have been added, and we plan to add 10 more by the end of next year," said a coast guard official, requesting anonymity. The also force looks to augments its surface combatants and aviation wings. It plans to have 120 vessels and wants to operate 60 aircrafts by 2013. SPS Basra, inspector general of Coast Guards (Western Region) said, "We have planned a step-by-step progression to ensure the coastline is safe."