Mumbai better prepared to deal with terror attacks

Last Updated: Friday, November 25, 2011 - 11:04

Mumbai: Three years after terrorists struck
the city leaving 166 dead, India`s financial capital seems
better prepared to deal with such attacks having set up an
elite commando unit and plans to fit transponders in boats of
fishermen to detect suspicious movement.

The state government has fulfilled "majority of the
recommendations" of the Ram Pradhan committee instituted after
the 26/11 attacks to suggest measures on how to improve the
security system in the state, Maharashtra`s Additional Chief
Secretary (Home) UC Sarangi said.

"On the lines of the NSG, we have set up a 350 strong
elite commando unit called Force one which is well equipped
with the latest weapons and trained by Army and foreign
experts. Every year, Rs 17 crore is being spent on this unit,"
he said.

As part of security measure to protect shores of Mumbai,
Maharashtra Government plans to fit transponders in the boats
of fishermen along the coast.

However, some problem areas still remain.

Maharashtra`s Anti-Terrorism Squad ATS is grappling with
a severe manpower crunch with 283 posts of the total 732 lying
vacant, two-and-a-half years after the panel, set up to probe
state police`s response to the Mumbai attacks recommended
streamlining the force.

Of the sanctioned strength of 732 personnel for the ATS,
which was formed in 2004 to counter terrorism and probe terror
cases, 283 posts or 38.66 percent of the required manpower are
lying vacant as on September 1, 2011, ATS sources said.

Ahead of the 26/11 anniversary, there is no specific
threat or input from intelligence agencies but there is always
a chance that terror outfits could resort to a "symbolic
strike" to mark the third anniversary of the worst terror
strike on India, home department sources said.

Among the events being held tomorrow to mark the third
anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks is unveiling of
a memorial for slain policeman Tukaram Ombale.

A bust of Ombale will be unveiled tomorrow at Girgaum
Chowpatty. Three years have passed since that fateful night
when Assistant Sub Inspector Ombale lost his life while trying
to nab terrorist Ajmal Kasab at Girgaum Chowpatty.

The four-feet high bronze statue was fabricated on the
basis of approved photographs of Ombale and his uniform, the
sculptors said.

On the eve of the terror attacks, memories of that
fateful night come rushing back to the braveheart`s wife
Tarabai and four daughters.

"My mother is still coming to terms with the loss, but
around this time each year she is a little more anxious than
usual," Vaishali, Ombale`s daughter, said describing her
mother`s state of mind.

Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan will be laying a
wreath at the martyrs’ memorial situated at Police gymkhana in
South Mumbai. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy
Chief Minister Ajit Pawar will be present.

Apart from the remembrance of the victims of the attack
and those who died fighting to save Mumbai from terrorists, no
other function is planned, Sarangi said.

"The memorial will be thrown open to the public to come
and pay their respects," he said.

The state government run JJ Hospital has organised blood
donation camps in Mumbai where the city police officials will
donate blood, he said.

A Marathi film based on the life of a policeman, witness
to the 26/11 attacks, is being released on the eve of the
third anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks. Titled "Hello
Jai Hind," the film has noted art director Nitin Desai
debuting as an actor and music by Ilayaraja, who is composing
for a Marathi film for the first time.

"It is about life of the family of a policeman and how
the city recovered from the attacks," said Gajendra Ahire,
director of the film. "It is also about how we continue to
live in fear of terror attacks."

Kavita Karkare, wife of slain ATS chief Hemant Karkare,
said she was shocked at the apathy of the government. "Our
leaders had made tall claims that the security system has
been strengthened and no such attack will take place again.
But the blasts in July this year exposed hollowness of their
claims," she said.

PTI



First Published: Friday, November 25, 2011 - 10:58

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