As Mumbai remembered the victims of the 26/11 terror attacks this week, five teams of ‘terrorists’ infiltrated the city through five spots on its coastline just days earlier.
They sneaked in just like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives did in 2008, when they unleashed one of the deadliest terror attacks Mumbai has seen.
Only, these five teams consisted coast guard personnel, who as part of a Sagar Kavach exercise, were testing how secure Mumbai’s coast really is. Not a single government authority, however, was able to stop them, and the fishing community — sensitised by officials to the threat after 26/11 — failed to spot them.
Police sources said the exercise highlighted how the state still showed a careless approach towards coastal security.
Read more: 26/11: 7 years later
“There was a gap in our defences, which was exploited by the red team of coast guard personnel,” said a senior police officer who was part of the exercise. The ‘red team’ the officer is referring to consisted of coast guard personnel acting as terrorists, while a ‘blue team’ acted as the security personnel.
Coast guard officials, who have been conducting the exercise since 2009, said, while this showed a lack of preparedness, the overall co-ordination between maritime security agencies and the state had improved since the attacks.
“There has been a considerable change in the way coastal security is addressed. The coordination between the coastal police, the director general’s office and the state has improved to a great extent. Some areas need to be addressed, and these will be ironed out in due course,” said a senior coast guard officer, on the condition that his name is withheld.
Praveen Dixit, director general of police (Maharashtra), told HT the operation was a rehearsal to know the weakness of the force during such a situation and take steps to improve security.