It has been eight years since the gruesome 26/11 Mumbai terror attack that left many dead, inflicting heavy casualties in Mumbai. Post 26/11 attacks, defence forces and intelligence agencies have made an untiring effort to beef up the intel and security of our nation on the maritime borders of the country which stood exposed and vulnerable to attacks from the sea route.
The up-gradation and modernization of the defence forces, a complete overhauling of the combat doctrine and setting up of specialized forces and agencies like Force One and National Intelligence Grid have been path breaking steps by the government to keep any potential attack of the nature of Mumbai attack at bay.
While the forces are on the constant vigil to keep a close eye on any potential terror threat, coordination among security forces and intel agencies and absence of a central decision making authority in internal security matters have been the chinks in the armour which certainly got exposed in countering the recent terror attacks at Pathankot and Gurdaspur.
News Nation spoke to defence expert, Atul Kulkarni, Maharashtra ATS chief, to have his views on how well are our security forces prepared to combat terror attacks of the nature of 26/11 Mumbai attack.
Excerpts from the Interview:
What are the challenges before Maharashtra Police after 26/11 attacks?
26/11 changed the perspective itself. We have modified a lot of our procedures, though thereafter also we have had terrorist attacks but they were of different kinds.
Do the internal securities in tandem to keep a strong vigil with police?
There is a mechanism involved, as you see after 26/11 NIA was established by an act of Parliament. Similarly we have had the Force 1, the elite commando force in Maharashtra. The National Security Guard has now got its own hub in Mumbai. So all these having the institutional changes and also similarly there have been changes in the ways and means of sharing intelligence reports and ensuring coordination. There are also multi intelligence agencies center which has come up which deals with prompt and real time sharing of the information and ensuring coordination and thats done on a regular basis.
These are the ways in which coordination is ensured.
What are the challenges before Mumbai Police when it comes to weaponry, equipment’s?
a) Mumbai will have to live with threats every now and then because that being the commercial capital so its going to face challenges in future.
b)Terrorist would like to target such place so we are prepared and we are taking all kinds of steps, including improving ur fibre and technical capabilities to monitor the activities.
Now with the advent of ISIS we have a different kind of challenge which has been thrown at us.
#Challenges in the form of radicalisation through internet
#Lone wolf attack will be a major challenge because who among these radicalised fellows takes the issue and joins the issue as a lone wolf is a matter to be seen.
#I of course would not want to sound pessimistic, but its going to increase our work load tremendously.
#the other challenge will be to ensure to bring back those already on path of so called radicalisation.
What is the role of Cyber security?
They have a major role to play. And I can tell that government of Maharashtra unveiled a very ambitious plan of cyber activities in the state worth crores with sufficient expertise in tackling the cyber threat.
Cyber will be the major challenge because things are happening on P2P encrypted service so when it is a person to person encrypted network, no agency has got any way, so, there is no penetration possible.
Insights on Defence preparedness post the 2008 Mumbai attacks
Excerpts from Maj Gen Kr Vijay Singh Lalotra AVSM, YSM, SM (Retd) conversation -
Q 1. What are the important lessons to be learnt by the Intelligence Agencies and Security Forces from the Mumbai terrorist attacks?
Ans 1. Requirement of an effective intelligence system, a set up for crisis management, suitably positioned specialized troops across the country for timely intervention and need to strengthen the civil defence set up.
Q 2. What measures have been taken by the Security Forces to counter terrorist attacks similar to the 2008 Mumbai attacks?
Ans 2. Terrorists will continue to attack vulnerable targets. All states have strengthened their intelligence system. There has been a notable increase in the signing of major defence deals over the past five years to upgrade and modernise the defence as well as strike capabilities of our forces. The security forces are better trained and equipped with modern weapons and equipment.
Q 3. How does the Army work in conjunction with the State Police and Intelligence Agencies to thwart such attacks?
Ans 3. A mechanism of Civil - Military liaison exists at State level to tackle such situations. Where there is ongoing threat from terrorism / insurgency a Joint Headquarters is established by the Civil Govt. with Military - Police - Civil Defence elements etc. However there is certainly a requirement for the defence forces to be given more autonomy to deal with the situation on ground for conducting the counter terrorism operations in a more efficient manner.
Q 4. What is your take on the security preparedness of the Indian Navy to guard the high seas and coastline of our country?
Ans 4. There has been considerable enhancement in the Navy’s strike capabilities by procuring and inducting the much awaited aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and leasing nuclear submarines from Russia. The government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative has also contributed immensely by way of giving the Navy its first indigenously designed missile destroyer warship, INS Chennai. However, there is much more which needs to be done for our Navy to be in a state of full combat readiness. Equipping and upgrading sea watch and fighting is costly and time consuming. It needs to be attended to constantly and not intermittently as a reaction.