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Mumbai police march displays power, might

Last updated on: November 26, 2009 15:55 IST

A show of might on Marine Drive

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Vaihayasi P Daniel in Mumbai

Vaihayasi P Daniel was impressed by the Mumbai police force's display of might through a parade of its security forces, accompanied by the latest, armoured high-tech vehicles, marching along Marine Drive on the anniversary of the 26/11 terror attacks.

Marine Drive, south Mumbai's main seafront thoroughfare, was closed once again on Thursday -- a year after a sizeable portion of it was shut for three long, grim days during Mumbai's worst terror attack.

Like last time, police vans/motorcycles, police inspectors and traffic police had sealed off the area. Scores of press vans encircled the neighbourhood.

Photographs: Rajesh Karkera


Image: The Marksman, the country's first armoured capsule-based light bullet-proof vehicle.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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Khakhi cops, police band, camouflaged vehicles

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Exactly at 8 am, Mumbaikars on morning walks on Marine Drive paused, momentarily startled, to watch platoons of the new counter-terrorism team Force One.

They were followed by squads of the Maharahstra State Reserve Police Force, the Quick Response Team, the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad, the police band, camouflaged bullet-proof commando jeeps, rapid action force blue bullet-proof jeeps, bright yellow sand rovers, rapid intervention vehicles, yellow and blue amphibious marine craft -- showcasing the selection of high-tech vehicles available to be used in the event of another attack, either on land or on sea or on sand.


Image: Sealegs, the amphibious marine craft.

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Indifferent Mumbai ignores police march

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Police commandos armed with AK-47s rode these vehicles. Bringing up the rear were ambulances followed by police officers in white cars with flashing red lights.

But as is unfortunately customary in Mumbai, folks went back to their daily routine -- walking their dogs, meditating next to the sea, chatting with friends or doing jap with their beads -- a few minutes later.

As amazing as the Mumbai police's impressive display of its new capabilities was the appalling shortage of public/crowds. And interest.


Image: The Maharashtra State Reserve Police force marches along Marine Drive

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'There should have been more people'

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Only a few people had taken the time out -- on this working day, one year after Mumbai's 26/11 terror attacks -- to view the police's Suraksha March, to remember the tragedy that shook the city and shocked the nation, and to honour the memory of those who saved us.

Some college students and youngsters had ventured from as far as Malad and Borivli (the city's north-western suburbs) to witness the display and record it on their cell phones, cameras and videos.

Vaishali Sheth, who watched the march with her husband and two sons, said, "I have come from Walkeshwar (south Mumbai) and allowed my elder son Shanay to skip school to watch it; to honour the memory of those who died. There probably should have been a holiday today so that more children could come."

She added with emphasis, "There should have been more people here!"


Image: Platoons of Maharashtra State Reserve Police Force and Force One.

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'This is fantastic'

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A handful of tourists were capturing the march on their cameras. Andrew, an enthusiastic visitor from Queensland, Australia, who works in tours and promotes travel to Queensland in India, was also there.

"We were here in Mumbai on November 24 and 25, just before the attacks last year for a wedding, and now we are in the city for business. This is fantastic," he said. "It is a great show of strength. It shows they are taking it seriously."


Image: The Mumbai police force added zest to the parade.

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'We are safer'

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Fazal Hussain, an elderly gentleman on his morning walk on Marine Drive, said, "I think the law and order situation has indeed improved. I feel there is a difference. I feel we are safer. I am impressed. It is a good idea to see the police ka naya sajjavat (new ornamentation)."

Ravi and Amit, who study at a college in Borivli and had traveled from the suburb to witness the police display, said they were pleasantly shocked. "Hum to shock ho gaya hai. I think we are more secure, but I hope it will not all disappear at the time of an attack," they said.

Sanitary workers Vasanth and Kiran, togged out in bright orange vests and armed with brooms and masks, were transfixed as the sand rovers and amphibious craft rolled past. "Yes this is quite something," they said in total agreement.


Image: The Force One.

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'They have done a lot of work'

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Nikhil, who works in retail, was very close to the Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus on November 26 last year, because he works there. Like many others, he had a narrow miss; he had reached home by the time the terror attack unfolded. He recorded the parade on his handycam.

"I think they have done a lot and have introduced a lot of new things and (measures), This was not done after other terrorist attacks. They have done a lot of work," he said, adding that he feels reassured.

The platoons marched smartly from the Trident hotel, one of the sites of the 26/11 attacks, at one end of Marine Drive, all the way to the brand new Tukaram Omble Chowk, a distance of approximately three kilometres, assiduously chased by camera crews and the press.


Image: The new Argo Avenger 8x8, an eight-wheel drive amphibious off-road vehicle.

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Policemen honour Tukaram Omble

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Following at a dignified distance were senior police officers in their vehicles.

Under the over-bridge at Girgaum Chowpatty, facing the beach and the ocean, a little stage had been set up, cloaked in bright red.

A large portrait of the late Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble, after whom the chowk has been renamed after the 26/11 attacks, hung there. Another portrait rested on the table.

The police's top brass alighted from their shining white cars to place wreaths/garlands on these photographs and observed a few moments of silence, honouring the simple but utterly brave assistant sub-inspector who upheld the reputation of the Mumbai police that dark night one year ago at this very spot by wrestling, unarmed, a Pakistani terrorist equipped with a deadly weapon.

His courage ensured that one of the ten terrorists was captured alive, and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba's murderous plan was revealed for the world to see.

We salute you Sir!


Image: Assistant Sub-Inspector Tukaram Omble's portrait was garlanded at Chowpatty by Mumbai's top cops.

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