26/11 lesson unlearnt, learnt: Ramshackle outpost revamped in Mumbaihttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/2611-lesson-unlearnt-learnt-ramshackle-outpost-revamped/

26/11 lesson unlearnt, learnt: Ramshackle outpost revamped in Mumbai

The new outpost was inaugurated on December 21, 2015, nearly seven years after the police was first deployed there following the 26/11 terror attacks.

The old outpost was held upright by bamboo poles, the new one has wooden flooring. Vasant Prabhu
The old outpost was held upright by bamboo poles, the new one has wooden flooring. Vasant Prabhu

AT the peak of last summer, policemen stationed at Bandra coast planted four seeds — two each of almond and coconut. The plan was to grow the plants so they would provide some shade in the future, should the Mumbai Police not install a permanent structure there.

But after The Indian Express carried a report on November 26 last year on the ramshackle police outpost near Bandra-Worli Sea Link — which would be at the front of the firing line should there be a repeat of an attack from the sea as on 26/11 — the structure has got a major facelift.

The coastal police outpost, one of the many that watch over Mumbai’s shores, is now a 10×10 cabin with wooden flooring and modern furnishing — a far cry from the eight bamboo poles and blue aluminium sheet that used to provide shelter to the two policemen who spent 12 hours each here with a single self-loading rifle and 50 bullets between them.

“We had no hope of a proper roof over our head, but that has changed now,” said a constable at the new cabin. The new outpost was inaugurated on December 21, 2015, nearly seven years after the police was first deployed there following the 26/11 terror attacks.

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“Earlier, once the sun would set, the only source of light was a solar powered bulb next to our outpost. Now our outpost has two electricity bulbs, a wall-mounted fan and four plug points. Our condition has improved. We even have three tinted sliding windows,” said an officer.

The outpost, which still flaunts the ribbon from the inauguration above its main door, is built on a slight incline so that policemen posted there can see the Arabian Sea without obstacles. While Christmas has passed, those occupying the outpost are still in the festive mood. “I will bring a Christmas tree to decorate the room next week now that we have the space,” said a police officer.

The new office comes with a green doormat and visitors are asked to leave their footwear at the door. Outside, there’s a water dispenser and a piece of furniture retained for “sentimental reasons”. It’s a six-foot-long bed that served as the only resting place in the original shack. The new furniture includes five plastic chairs, a wooden bench and a table.

About 100 yards away, the foundation of a new toilet is still drying up. “It will be a western-style toilet,” said an officer.

The concrete roof also means no fear of the monsoon, which would usually damage the structure. “I can’t wait for the rains,” said one constable. A police water truck with a capacity of 1,000 litres visits the outpost every time the water tankers — of 5,000 litres and 500 litres — run dry.

The surrounding terrain has also been evened out and debris left behind after the completion of the sea link has been removed. This, said police officers, has also solved the mosquito problem. “Now we relax outside the cabin… all that this place required was some cleaning,” said a constable. A mosquito repellent tube has been tucked away in a desk drawer.

The Self-Loading Rifle lies in a corner. “Four more outposts remain to be inaugurated. Our priority is to secure the critical landing points of the city,” said Kirankumar Chavan, DCP, Port Zone.