Following the “26/11”-style terror attack in Paris, a high alert has been sounded in Mumbai other parts of Maharashtra. Security has been tightened at vital installations and areas of high footfall. On Saturday evening, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was briefed by Director General of Police Pravin Dixit about security arrangements in Maharashtra.
“I have instructed the DGP to exercise utmost care. A high alert has been sounded,” said Fadnavis, who is visiting London.
“Mumbai has been put on alert but there is no specific threat. We are taking all precautions and security has been upped at vital installations and places of high footfalls,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said.
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One of the venues attacked in France being a concert hall, the Mumbai Police are taking a relook at security arrangements for a concert by Sunburn scheduled on November 29 at NSCI ground in Worli.
“Since one of the venues attacked in Paris was a rock concert, we are reviewing security arrangements for the programme. While there is no specific input concerning the event, the exercise has been undertaken in the wake of the Paris attack,” said a senior official.
Security has also been stepped up at railway stations, airports, markets, malls, theatres and hotels in cities across Maharashtra.
New Year eve celebrations will also top the list of security arrangements for the law enforcers. “There are a couple of places where people assemble to welcome New Year. In the aftermath of the Paris attack, special care will be taken to ensure foolproof security,” added the official. Sources said a meeting of senior officials next week would discuss security concerns and arrangements for the December 31 celebrations.
Meanwhile, a hoax caller identified as Mohammed Raja Sheikh (28) was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch Saturday.
“Sheikh had called up the control room Thursday claiming that a bomb had been planted at Mayur Cinema in Kandivali. The theatre was searched and police concluded that the call was a hoax. Sheikh was arrested and during interrogation revealed he was at the theatre to watch a movie with his friend and was inebriated when he made the call,” said an official. Sheikh was booked under Section 502(2) of the Indian Penal Code.
Lessons from 26/11 attacks
Coastal security: This was greatly stepped up off Mumbai in the years since 26/11 with drills by the newly established coastal police as well as the Coast Guard. However, it was recently established that of the 450 personnel of the marine unit, 230 don’t know how to swim. A CAG report has pointed out delays in construction of coastal police stations and shortage of manpower. Of the three coastal police stations, only two are operational.
Weapons for the police: With the Ram Pradhan committee stating that force deployment procedures were not followed and that police didn’t have adequate weapons, a lot of modern weaponry was purchased. But not all of the post 26/11 acquisitions are functional. All-terrain bikes have laid idle, anti-material rifles do not have a practice range, the purchase of bomb-disposal suits was delayed by litigation and allegations of corruption, while the CCTVs for large parts of the city is yet to be installed. The cameras will be installed in phases. While there has been a demand for 5,000 bullet-proof jackets for the state police, only 2,000 had been purchased until 2014. A Rs 7-crore worth mobile X-ray-cum-scanner, a device used by the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad, has been gathering dust at the Commissionerate for want of repairs.
Early responders: Some ideas have been implemented fully. A Quick Response Team is now deployed for every zone and has a reaction time of 7 minutes. Force One, formed on the lines of the NSG, has a reaction time of 15 minutes.
Securing the local train network: The Integrated Security System (ISS) for the Mumbai rail network was conceptualised after the serial bombings on trains in 2006. With the maximum number of casualties in the 2008 attack being recorded at the CST, work on the project was expedited and the railways now have dog squads, under vehicle search systems, CCTVs, doorframe metal detectors and hand-held metal detectors. But ISS remains incomplete — dysfunctional metal detectors, incomplete fencing and more.
Security at hotels, public places: The inquiry commission had found that hotels did not implement security advice given by local area DCPs. Response to intelligence inputs and routine security drills are now par for the course in all major hotels as well as in malls, multiplexes, etc.