Mumbai: A decade after 10 Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai through coastal routes and killed 166 people while injuring 300, the coast guard police claim to be fully equipped to handle any terror strike. The coast guard said the lessons from the past have enabled the coastal security to be a matter of national importance. Moreover, in the aftermath of 26/11, the coast guard officials are working in close collaboration with the fishermen, who provide an extra set of eyes and ears.
After the 26/11 terror attacks, a security assessment by the state government and a series of conferences among the government and senior police officers revealed some of the major places where the police fell short were porous coastal security, advanced weaponry and the lack of a specialised, elite force. In the light of these reports, the Indian Coast Guard has grown tremendously, in the matter of intelligence forces as well as the equipment on hand to tackle any untoward incident.
Post 26/11 attacks, the coast guard have acquired 26 new ships for coastal security which is fully equipped with network radar and perfectly designed modern armoury for self defence. The Coast Guard, which was not well equipped earlier to protect itself from any assault from the sea, has risen like a Proteus with all high-end equipment, boats and gadgets to protect the Maharashtra coastline with a total of 1865 kilometre, including five major and 92 minor ports and 453 islands. The coast guard believes the need of the hour is to keep on upgrading and updating the available and necessary resources, in order to combat intense situations.
An official told The Free Press Journal, post 26/11 terror strikes, the level of alertness and vigilance on the Mumbai coastline has doubled than usual, being on high alert all the time. The coast guards have patched up all loopholes which were and could possibly be exploited not only by the terrorists but also by the smugglers. The coast guards, which earlier had only 28 boats and ships for security, now have increased in five folds, with 140 boats on board. Of these boats, 30 are deployed all time in the sea, only for vigilance.
The coast guards undergo quarterly exercises like Sagar Kavach and Sajag. Officials said, conducting joint operations with the forces is just not helping the coast guard to boost their performance but also the sharing of the intelligence inputs. Following the 26/11 attacks, Indian Coast Guard (IGC), apart from upgrading itself to combat such attacks in future, is working in close collaboration with the fishermen community to keep strong vigilance over the coastal areas which are vulnerable to infiltration. The coast guards, through various measures, are sensitising the fishing community to integrate them into the coastal security mechanism and leave no loophole in surveillance of the coastal areas.