Keeping Mumbai safe is a challenging task that Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan faces. For that he lays stress on retraining the police and using advanced devices and mechanisms, in an interview with Shailesh Gaikwad.
There is anger and bitterness among the people and even a sense of helplessness. How will you assure them that they would be safe?
I can understand the anger. 26/11 happened and several measures were announced but still the blasts happened on July 13. They happened in crowded areas where terrorists could carry out their acts without anyone noticing. The question is, could we have prevented them? That is the challenge, there are practical difficult (problems) and we will have to explain them.
So, wasn’t it an intelligence failure?
There was no intelligence input about this attack. But I will not call it an intelligence failure because it seems this attack was carried out by probably a small group that was not detected. The intelligence agencies detect an activity through informants or by detecting communication devices like phones or mail. In this case, this particular group did not use any of these means of communication, so agencies could not detect it.
Does that mean Mumbai is not safe and there is no guarantee that terrorists will not target the city again?
I will be frank. This is the challenge before us and our various agencies. We will need to use advanced devices and mechanism to prevent further attacks.
Do you think the police force is capable of doing this?
They can be trained and, if necessary, more people can be recruited.
You seem to be unhappy with the home department or the way it is being handled. You said you regret that the Congress let the NCP keep a crucial department like home.
It is my personal opinion that key departments like home and finance should be with the chief minister … but I was talking about the arrangements that were made between the Congress and NCP in 1999, when the government was formed. However, my opinion was twisted and applied to the current situation. I have full confidence in the home minister (RR Patil) and we are handling the situation in the best way we can. I did say that I was not happy with two things: first, I could not get access to the police officers for 15 minutes after the blasts happened as the network was jammed. Second, the CCTV project is getting unnecessarily delayed.
Is the bickering with the NCP affecting governance?
I don’t think so.
The Opera House blast took place in a congested area. Will the diamond traders shift to the Bandra Kurla Complex?
Of course, they should shift to the diamond bourse made for them. There could be some practical difficulties (but) that should be solved by the persons concerned.
A city like Mumbai is crowded and its infrastructure is crumbling. Is it possible to keep vigil with the current system?
We have to look at making suitable changes in the system. That will need time and money and we are working on that. On Wednesday, I could not get in touch with the police, so now we will go for a four-layer system. It will be based on cellphone, a revived wireless network and satellite phones.