Mumbai 26/11: Years Come and Go

New Delhi, 16th October, 2009: “India still Vulnerable to Mumbai Like Attacks” – P. Chidambaram, Home Minister, Republic of India.

If, this is the kind of statement made by our Home Minister, then what do you think: India is safe and can counter Mumbai 26/11 like attacks? Can India protect itself from such kind of attacks in future? Can we avoid such kind of attacks? One year has just got over and many more years will come and go. But, what about our action and reaction to such tragedies? Are we in the right direction? Where do we stand after one year of the tragic incidents of Mumbai? Is the history we are creating  follows the ‘right’ path?

Before finding an answer to all of the above queries or before debating on Home Minister’s statement, let us discuss some ground realities of  the aftermath of “Mumbai 26/11” and analyse the happenings of last one year from aamjunta’s perspective. We start this discussion in a step by step manner starting with the police reforms, action by the state and central government, re-action by the media and public awareness.

1. Police Force Got a New Look in Mumbai: Around Rs. 360/- million has been spent to modernise the Mumbai Police. There was a plan to spend more than Rs. 1200/- million to modernise the police force. Anyhow that amount still remains unused 😦 . A Quick Response Team (QRT) with 900 officers, (out of 900, 200 officers are trained on the line of NSG) has been deployed. 39 combat vehicles with latest arms and ammunitions and Global Positioning System (GPS) on board and 10/12 bullet-proof vehicles have been inducted. Moreover, there is a growing awareness among the police force and their families on health issues with an aim “always fit” to combat any kind of eventualities, which include handling internal or external terror  factors. Even though the new look of Mumbai Police, it is still not equipped enough to counter the sophisticated terrorist attacks. Still much more requires to be done without much red-tapism.

But it is to be seen: how is the quality of the materials, arms and ammunition, bullet-proof jackets purchased in the present scenario? Is it a repetition of the materials purchased before, which was the reason behind the death of Hemant Karkare and others in the past. Moreover, do we really behave humanly with our police force? I doubt!

2. New Look of Indian Navy: Geographically, India is vulnerable from all sides; Arabian Sea in the West, Bay of Bengal in the East and Indian Ocean on the South. This complicates the border security through the sea. We have to accept that at present Indian Navy do not have that much capability to counter terrorist attacks through its coasts. However, Indian Navy is waking up to its demand – Indian Coast Guard is re-shaping with 3000+ new recruits. Strength of Marine Commandos (MARCOS) is increasing, additional boats and bullet-proof boats are getting deployed in both east and west coast, chain of coastal radars are getting in place. But, still we lack in our preparation and alertness.

3. New Hubs for NSG: Four hubs of NSG – Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata with a strength of 241 each are in place now. In addition upgrading the weaponry and other arms and ammunition has already been done and some are on the pipe line. But what about the administrative hurdles for deployments at the crucial time? We lost precious time in Mumbai (during 26/11) and Chandigarh (during Air India Plane Hijack in 1998). It has to be kept in mind.

4. Mumbai got its New ATS Chief: How can ATS function without its head and that too in Maharastra for almost 8 months? It was really shocking! But after Mumbai High Court’s strict warning Maharastra Government appointed Additional Director General (Railways) K.P. Raghuvansh as the new ATS Chief on 11th June, 2009. That post was lying vacant after the death of Hemant Karkare during 26/11 terrorist attacks. The question arises – how come government took such a long time to appoint ATS chief and other senior police officials? Is it a failure of the state government or a political compulsion or a mere negligence? Aamjunta– What is your opinion?

5. Respect Shown by the Government Towards the Martyrs: Till today, the government does not know where is the bullet-proof jacket used by Hemant Karkare on that fateful night? Is this the way we treat our officers who have sacrificed their lives for our country? On a different note, even no one has time to inaugurate the memorial built at Thane on the memory of the martyrs of 26/11. Quite disgracefully, even some of the memorials built for the martyrs do not have correct names. Are we really serious or our respect is just a show?

6. Maharstra Home Minister: R. R. Patil is back as the new Maharastra Home Minister, a year after 26/11. During the terror attacks, he went on describing the incident as a small incident in a big city (and later denied that a communication gap resulted due to poor “Hindi”).  What about his speech in Hindi now? Hope this time he will not make any mistake while answering in Hindi.

7. PIL Filed in Mumbai High Court: There was a huge public outrage on the media’s role during 26/11 operation. Many news channels were irresponsible and their actions were condemned by the public and a section of media itself. Their code-of conduct during the operation was felt to be a security threat to the country. We too have condemned their action in our previous posts. In addition, a PIL has been filed in Mumbai High Court on 5th Feb, 2009 on behalf of the common man by ‘Small Change‘. Let us wait and watch and hope for the end of media-apathy.

8. Public Awareness: It is definitely a positive development that the common man or the aamjunta is aware now and is waking up towards its own responsibilities. There were silent marches, candle light protests, blood donation camps, etc. People have understood now who cares for security and who does not. Use of RTIs and  PILS have been substantially increased to bring the state machinery into line. Public awareness has also been increased which may become the key to national security and intelligence.

9. Committees after Committees: A two-member enquiry committee by R. D. Pradhan, ex-IAS officer and former Union Home Secretary and V. Balachandran, ex-IPS officer and former special secretary R&AW was set-up by the Maharastra Government. Recently, the committee has submitted its report. One wonders that this committee does not find who was responsible for the lapses, be the ministers or administrators or the police officers. However, it has slammed the then Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor, without even giving him a chance to defend. Moreover, there is no answer to other strategic failures like delay in action by NSG, delay in counter attack by Mumbai police and the strategic failure of intelligence. It was just a mere cover-up exercise of the government. Interestingly weak opposition both at the centre and state have not even bothered to force government or to put pressure. Instead, they are busy with their own speeches, morchas and in-fights. When will they think for the country, when their own houses are disturbed and fractured? Shiv Sainiks are so frustrated that they have to attack press offices these days in order to remain in news, leftists are busy with their own ‘red’ politics, BJP is busy with its internal problem – to find a new party chief and new leader and finally the 2nd/3rd/4th front… either busy with inaugurating their own statues or election campaigning or scams.

10. Diplomatic Relation with Pakistan: It is just like a cat and mouse game by both the governments on one issue… Delivery of dossier continues between India and Pakistan. Accusations after accusations and statements and counter-statements… is there any end to it? Pakistan is already getting its own boomerang, which  was created against India and Afghanistan. Everyday there are bomb blasts in different parts of its own country.  Do they want dossiers or actions or bomb-blasts? When will the diplomats grow up? Do they think by doing this they will get J&K? Indian diplomats should also realize that there are differences between making statements and taking actions. Better to take some serious actions first and then bring other things into perspective.

Aamjunta – what is your opinion? where do we stand- as an individual, as a city, as a state and as a country? Do you see any progress in any of the above fronts? Let the government do its own part and let us do our own. Seems government is coming up with a 20 point plan on the anniversary, but is that sufficient? Are they serious to implement this without politics? What about opposition? Where are they? Busy in fighting with other Indians on the basis of language, domicile and living! or providing a constructive opposition to the government?

Years will come and go, but … our actions and reactions will be remembered as a part of the history. So, decide whether we should facilitate a good or bad history?

Jai Hind!

P.N.: Let us pay our humble tributes to those thousands of innocent lives lost not only in Mumbai 26/11 but in many such attacks in the name of terror and politics.

Where do we stand after one year of the tragic incidents of Mumbai?
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