Acquisition of sophisticated equipment, vehicles and weaponry, and intense training regimens are all part of the police’s preparedness to thwart any more 26/11-like attacks. But that’s not all the force is doing. Quietly, it has undertaken an exercise to prepare for unconventional terror attacks that may render conventional preparedness useless.
“The aim is to anticipate how terrorists may strike and understand the best way to react,” said director general of police (DGP) D Sivanandhan.
The 9/11 attacks hastened a revamp of counter-terror strategies in the US. Officials there studied terror patterns across the globe and built an apparatus to face such attacks. The Mumbai police exercise is along similar lines.
“Who could imagine a group of terrorists sailing all the way from Karachi to Mumbai to launch an attack,” said a member of the police’s strategic think tank on condition of anonymity.
Sivanandhan said the potential risks over the next 15 to 20 years are being assessed and ways to deal with them are being formulated.
The terror strike of the future could be very different from what the world has seen so far. It may be in the shape of a chemical or biological attack, an aerial strike, poisoning of reservoirs… Or, it may not be a physical strike at all. It could be in the form of a cyber attack, data theft from key institutions or an attempt to spook the stock market.
That is why the police have roped in people from various sections to get different points of view. “Members of these strategic foresight groups include bankers, artists, artisans and ordinary citizens,” Sivanandhan said. Minutes of the discussion are noted and acted upon.
Sivanandhan said that recently a group of 40 policemen was sent for training in unconventional warfare to the Central Reserve Police Force facility at Talegaon. Experts from the Army and other paramilitary groups are being called to share their experiences and train policemen across the state.
Apart from terror preparedness, the strategic group is also helping with plans to combat naxalism and communalism.
Sivanandhan said the exercise was started by former director general of police AN Roy would continue “till the threat exists”.