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Mumbai police gears up for 26/11 anniversary

Last updated on: November 17, 2009 16:31 IST

Image: The Mumbai police's newly acquired motorcycles
A Ganesh Nadar in Mumbai
A Ganesh Nadar listens to Mumbai's police commissioner outline his concerns and solutions for terror directed at the city.

On the eve of the 26/11 anniversary, the Mumbai police is taking no chances.

Warning that the new-age terrorists are amazingly sophisticated, Mumbai Police Commissioner Dhanushkodi Sivanandan says the city police have many quick-response teams ready to thwart another 26/11-style terror attack.

Sivanandan, speaking at a seminar last week, said, "The new terror recruits are amazingly sophisticated, with many of them being trained in science and engineering."

Tracing the terror attacks around the world and their targets, he said possible targets in Mumbai are the ongoing Metro project, the Konkan Railway and crowded bus depots.

Quick-response teams raring to go

Image: The places that came under attack last year.
To secure Mumbai, Sivanandan said, he had five quick-response teams deployed in five regions, with each team comprising 200 members.

Combat vehicles are deployed in 39 divisions across Mumbai -- each having three sub-inspectors and 12 constables. The vehicles are under the assistant commissioner of police who oversees three police stations, each with six men in reserve, who are not on any other beats.

Thirteen other vehicles are deployed across the city with each having a sub-inspector and three cops. Besides, he said, bullet-proof vehicles manned by armed troopers had also been positioned in the city. Further, 160 beat marshals had been deployed on motorcycles.

Speed boats and 'amphibious' vehicles have been deployed in the sea around Mumbai coast. The boats are equipped with global positioning systems and sound navigation and ranging equipment to guide them on location and depth.

On a total revamp

Image: The new amphibious boats on display
To encourage fitness, the department set up a new gym in Naigaon, north-central Mumbai, and the main control room has also been revamped.

Police weaponry has been upgraded, with the force now having automatic weapons, long-range weapons and better life jackets. Closed-circuit television cameras have been installed at major nodal points.

Drawing a parallel between the Lahore hotel attack (September 20, 2008) and the Mumbai attacks, Hagai Segal, a counter-terrorist analyst and lecturer at New York University, said the methodology and targets were reminiscent of Al Qaeda attacks.

'Terrorists were well-prepared'

Image: Mumbai police's new prized possessions to take on terror
In both Lahore and Mumbai, the targets were Westerners and Jews, besides aiming at inflicting maximum economic damage. The terrorists, he said, used commando tactics, and were 'controlled and 'professional'. They used AK-47s and relied on state-of-the-art technologies to carry out dreaded attacks.

Besides establishing 'footholds' before the attack, the expert said, "They had excellent knowledge of hotels. In fact, their knowledge clearly surpassed that of commandos tasked with getting them out. The bad guys had a great tactical advantage. That is why the siege lasted as long as it did."

Mumbai police not taking any chances

Image: Graphics: Places where the quick-response teams are deployed.
Karanvir Singh of Commlabs, a security consultancy agency, said, "We as a polity had a bad habit of baring it all and that hurt us immensely.

Singh came down hard on the television channels which covered the 26/11 attacks, and said the terrorists were given information about the commandos which helped them a great deal in staying out of reach.

He also said banning the Voice Over Internet Protocol portal Skype, which the government was contemplating, was impossible.

'Srinagar airport is the only safe one in India'

Image: 26/11 graphics: The sequence of events
Citing examples, Singh said he could walk into any airport with a suitcase full of arms and ammunition.

At the gate, he said, all they would ask are his ticket and identity card. He wanted to know why armed commandoes were checking tickets, a job for a clerk.

He said the only safe airport in the country was in Srinagar, where one will be stopped a kilometre away from the airport and everyone is frisked completely.

The event -- the Security and Resilience Summit-- was organised by Bombay First, a non-governmental organisation, at the Trident hotel where terrorists wrecked havoc a year ago.