Fishermen on the Maharashtra coast will play a key role during the co-ordinated multi agency coastal surveillance exercise—‘Operation Sagar Kavach’ — that commences at daybreak on Thursday.
The 48-hour exercise will go on till around 6pm on October 25. The exercise has been an annual feature since 2008 and is among the measures taken to increase coastal security in the wake of the 26/11 attacks.
Hundreds of fishermen, whose services had been enlisted by security agencies to increase surveillance of the coastline, have been provided cell phones and SIM cards. “They will act as our informers during the exercise,” a senior Coastal Police official told HT adding: “They will alert us whenever they find anything suspicious in the waters or shores during the exercise.”
As part of the operation, decoy terrorists will on speedboats (or even on land on the shore line) will come from undisclosed locations across the 720-km coastline of the state. How effectively they are identified and apprehended will be a marker of the agencies’ preparedness. The decoy terrorists, carrying AK rifles, are asked to respond with a code when challenged in order to avoid any firing. The codes are used also to avoid any terrorist taking advantage of the drill.
Deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Port Zone, Balasaheb Ghadge, who is also the nodal officer for the Mumbai Coastal Police, told HT that as per the practice over the years, the Coast Guard will coordinate the operation, which will see participation by the Indian Navy, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), customs, Mumbai Maritime Board (MMB), Director General Shipping and Mumbai port trust.