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9 years after deadly 26/11 attacks, India still needs a foolproof coastal security system

Despite several measures taken by the government, there are concerns such as manpower, infrastructure for an infallible maritime security system to be in place.

mumbai Updated: Nov 26, 2017 12:59 IST
Rahul Mahajani
Rahul Mahajani
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
2008 mumbai attacks,26/11 mumbai attack,26/11 attack
Marine Drive in South Mumbai.(Shutterstock)

Nine years after the November 26 terror attacks, guarding Mumbai’s 114-km coastline — used by the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists to enter the city — may become the responsibility of a police force under the central government.

The government plans to form the central marine police force (CMPF) to exclusively patrol India’s 7,000-km coastline. Although the Maharashtra police beefed up the security after the attacks by upgrading infrastructure and deploying more staff, policing the state’s 700-km coastline is an additional burden on the state force. Taking this into account, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis came up with the suggestion, which has got an in-principle nod from Union home minister Rajnath Singh.

The loopholes in the security came to light in 2008 after 10 LeT terrorists came from Pakistan to Mumbai in a boat, using the porous coastline. The terror attacks killed 166 people. Joint commissioner of police (law and order) Deven Bharti said, “There has been a lot of advancement in manpower and quality infrastructure has been put in place on all fronts since the 26/11 attacks.”

Read | 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks: How events unfolded in the city

Currently, the Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Thane rural, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg police have to man the sea. The state has more than 50 police stations and 70-odd boats of various types, including patrol boats and interceptors.

For long, senior officials in the state police have raised several issues — from sea sickness and lack of expertise in swimming to spare parts for boats — over patrolling the seas. The police tried to overcome some of them by reducing the height of the constabulary by a few centimetres for coastal policing to suit the local koli community. While the police got the spare parts for boats from vehicles, they tied up with Navy and coast guards for training in swimming.

A senior official of the state police said the actual implementation of the proposal could take years, and till then the coastal policing will remain with the state police. “The formalities over the jurisdiction and the powers of the central force could become tricky, with the state not wanting to give away power,” he said.

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 08:09 IST