Thursday, October 28, 2010

The 26/11 attacks changed not just Mumbai but the entire nation. People were shocked at the brazenness of the terror strikes, which exposed the loopholes in the country's security apparatus...

 The whole world watched in amazement as Indian television provided an embarrassing, 24/7 coverage of the country's vulnerability. Less than a dozen terrorists brought the country to a virtual standstill for three days. While we all sat glued to our television sets, government agencies acted like a bunch of Keystone cops. Former US envoy's Ronen Sen's favourite phrase "headless chickens" was certainly very apt.

What has transpired since the Mumbai attacks in terms of diplomacy and responses seems to be following a well-worn script. India has clear evidence of Pakistani involvement. The US recognized this evidence and leaned on Pakistan to do something about the terrorists being trained within its borders. The United Nations also called for action. The Pakistanis have undertaken a symbolic response, placing a terrorist leader under house arrest and banning his organization. Meanwhile, the media and other parts of the power structure deny involvement in the attack or its preparation, blaming the Indians or Americans themselves.

Initiatives taken by the GOI

1)That time lag of Nov 26, 2008 when the National Security Guards (NSG) took about five hours to take up position to combat India’s worst terror attack will never be repeated, promises chief of the elite commando force N.P.S. Aulakh. “We lost time during the Mumbai serial attacks. But things have changed and now we can take up any challenge within just 30 minutes of notice and that too anywhere,’ NSG Director General N.P.S. Aulakh told IANS in an exhaustive interview.

2) Force One, Maharashtra’s “elite security force designed on the lines of the National Security Guard (NSG)” has been commissioned .

3) Arms purchase has increased in India. Not just in Maharashtra but by the central government, and the Army too.

4) The Navy is also beefing up on infrastructure to protect India from the sea. From aircraft to boats, to the numerical strength of personnel is all being increased.

5) Vacancies in the Maharashtra police, which were at 230,567 on January 1, 2008 are now down to less than 150,000. The central government has ordered that this deficit be brought down further, and infact brought down to zero by March 2010.

6) A 20 per cent increase in the budget for Coast Guard vessels. Manpower is also being increased.

7) The Maharashtra government has set aside Rs 150 Crore to buy speed boats this last June.

8] The government has opened four NSG hubs in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai, each having a strength of 241 personnel.

9) NSG will now be better mobilized.

What the experts have to say...

G. Parthasarathy
  • Pakistan is obfuscating and stalling. If it continues to instigate the Taliban, problems will continue for us.
  • Diplomatically,we have been defensive.We should have refused to answer Pakistan’s 30 questions.
  • Within 72 hours of 26/11, India should have carried out precision military strikes against terrorist camps in Pakistan.
  • We don’t act till the US pushes us.We usually allow Pakistan to hijack our agenda.
  • We expect the world to do everything for us, but we have not taken any diplomatic action to voice our anger.
Maj-Gen V. K. Datta
  • We are facing a malaise that started with the Partition.We can’t deal with Pakistan through five-year plans.
  • Strikes against Pakistan are difficult as the US forces have bases and logistic networks there.
  • Covert operations are about political will—the ability to do what the enemy is doing to you.
  • You cannot have the special forces proliferating all over. I am aghast the Government wants NSG units everywhere.
  • A single shot from a welltrained policeman armed with a .303 rifle can take out a terrorist carrying a bazooka.
Brahma Chellaney
  • Between inaction and strikes lie a hundred economic, political and diplomatic options, which we have not used.
  • Counter-terror strategy needs a well thought-out doctrine, effective instruments, a deterrent structure and political resolve.
  • The Indian Government is too afraid to even raise the question of covert strikes.
  • India has suffered more major terror strikes than any other nation but we don’t have a counterterror doctrine.
  • At the highest level of the Government, there is this desire to discuss but not to take any hard decisions.
Kiran Bedi
  • The police leadership today is quiet, is crying, is helpless and is weak and leaderless.
  • No systemic corrections have been done since 26/11. No one in the Home Ministry has paid the price.
  • India’s 1.3 million policemen have not been made a part of the war on terror.
  • The invisible occupation by bureaucrats who control police budgets and postings takes the courage out of the force.
  • Anti-terrorist cells in every state must be assured of funds, of intelligence budgets and mobility.
Lt-Gen Satish Nambiar
  • Surgical strikes would have made sense within 10 hours of the attack, but we didn’t know if Pakistan was behind it.
  • It is a shame that successive governments have surrendered such vast amounts of the defence budget.
  • The armed forces are not ready for war and we are lucky as no one has tested us recently.
  • There is no accountability in our security system. The NSAwas at dinner when 26/11 was happening as he has no role.
  • The measures taken by the Government, like changing the home minister, are just cosmetic.
Ajit Kumar Doval
  • No media in any country has been as irresponsible. It was through TV that terrorists could see the operations.
  • The real masterminds like the Zarar Shahs and the Lakhvis are outside the scope and jurisdiction of our law.
  • The Home Ministry is yet to take the first step towards capacity building for fighting terror.
  • The masterminds of terror attacks need to be targeted in covert strikes along with the terrorist training camps.
  • Every step taken during the operation was wrong. Coordination at the policy level is missing and non-focussed.

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