Five unmarked bullet proof vehicles, each carrying fully armed commandos, have been deployed at as many strategic points across south Mumbai in what is being said to be the Mumbai police’s preparedness to deal with lone wolf strikes that have become a global menace.
A lone wolf terrorist is the one who gets indoctrinated by an external group (through the Internet or other sources) or self-radicalised, and carries out an act in favour of that group. Such a terrorist easily bypasses intelligence surveillance because he prepares and executes attacks alone.
Last month’s terror strike at a popular eatery in Dhaka, which was followed by the mowing down of revellers by a terrorist, who deliberately drove a truck into the crowd, at a popular beach front in France, has made security agencies across the globe devise ways to pre-empt and minimise the impact of such attacks. The Mumbai police are no different.
The unpredictability associated with such strikes renders the city police’s counter-terrorism mechanism post 26/11 redundant. “The special forces raised in the aftermath of 26/11 terror strike have been trained to deal with these kind of situations — engaging groups [big or small] in a gun battle. However, lone wolf attacks require high alacrity response to stop and neutralise the subject before he can maximise casualty,” a highly placed source in the city police said, adding, “When the threat is not visible, we have to wait in camouflage.”
While refusing to reveal details of the level of preparedness, joint commissioner of police (Law and Order), Deven Bharati said, “We are preparing ourselves for any challenge.”
Meanwhile, sources said the decision to fortify south Mumbai was taken keeping in mind that the area houses a string of vital installations, crowded business districts, railway terminals, popular tourist spots and sea fronts, some of which have repeatedly been targeted by terrorists in the past. On an average, 3-4 lakh daily commuters converge in the 6 sqkm area between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Crawford Market, Churchgate, Mantralaya and Gateway of India during peak hours every day. “Experience shows that lone wolf attackers select crowded places to maximise damage,” sources said.
To begin with the new operating procedure, small vehicles (Mahindra Boleros) were chosen (over bulky vans carrying Force One or QRT commandos) for their ability to steer into narrow lanes or negotiate in reverse traffic. The vehicles carry no police sticker, signs or dome lights in order to camouflage their identity. Most importantly, the vehicles have been made bullet proof for the purpose of ramming those into the armed attacker in emergency situation.
The jeeps have been stationed 1-1.5 km apart from each other so as to minimise response time anywhere in south Mumbai, sources said adding that the commandos in the vehicle are a mixture of QRT personnel and sleuths drawn from the anti-terror cell (ATC) of local police stations, who are equally trained in armed combat, sources said.
The line of command for the strike units, which otherwise rests with the regional additional commissioner of police (south region), has been bi-furcated and the zonal deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) have been authorised to receive messages and issue instructions, sources said.
Sources claimed that similar deployments are likely to be made at selected places in central Mumbai and the western suburbs that could be the likely terror targets.
WHO IS A LONE WOLF TERRORIST?
A lone wolf terrorist is the one who gets indoctrinated by an external group (through internet or other sources), or self-radicalised, and carries out an act in favour of that group. Such a terrorist easily bypasses intelligence surveillance because he prepares and executes attacks alone. A series of deadly lone wolf strikes in western Europe and the United States of America (USA) has put the intelligence agencies in those countries in a fix.