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Twin blasts -- Where's our anti-terror squad?
Salil Kumar and Vijay Singh in Mumbai | August 25, 2004 14:19 IST
Last Updated: August 25, 2004 15:19 IST
He arguably has one of the toughest jobs in the country, but because of the administration's lack of vision he is yet to get even a proper office to execute his duties.
His office in old police commissionerate near JJ Hospital in Mumbai is, compared to the offices of other senior police officers, barren -- in one corner of the room is a conference table that is unusable; there are no framed photographs or plaques; in fact, there is not even a nameplate on the white door to make out who sits inside.
If the officer is disappointed, he does not show it. "I have come here. I have been posted here. I will establish the branch. Nothing is created in one day. This unit is taking birth as of now," he says. It will be a couple of months before everything is set up, the IG adds.
The idea of having an ATS took shape in March 2003 when Mumbai was in the middle of a ten month period that saw blast after blast rock the metropolis.
Between December 2, 2002 and August 25, 2003, there were seven blasts in the commercial capital at railway stations, in trains and taxis. Sixty-nine people died and many more were injured.
In September, the then deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal made the formal announcement to establish the unit.
It is now exactly a year since the last terrorist attack -- twin blasts minutes apart in Zaveri Bazaar and the Gateway of India -- in which 52 people died, but things are moving at a snail's pace.
Earlier it was the Crime Branch that handled such cases. But it was increasingly felt that between the activities of the underworld, narco-traffickers and terrorists, the unit was being increasingly stretched. And hence the need for ATS.
But it was exactly this reason that also caused the initial delay in setting up the ATS.
Some senior officers felt that the ATS would render the Crime Branch impotent, that it would be reduced to handling petty cases.
So it was suggested that the ATS take charge of Maharashtra minus Mumbai. But that would have been pointless as the blasts were taking place in Mumbai.
Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria was given 20 officers and was asked to lead the squad.
But factionalism in the force prompted his departure in November 2003 and the ATS was headless till Raghuvanshi took charge in July.
The situation is now better.
According to a report, the state government recently adopted a resolution giving the ATS the right to handle the cases that were earlier in the Crime Branch's domain.
It will be the first department of the Mumbai police to report to the Director General of Police as well as the Mumbai police commissioner.
It will have two additional commissioners, one for Mumbai and the other for the rest of Maharashtra, two deputy commissioners, four assistant commissioners and 70 officers.
Two officers of the rank of deputy inspector general of police will also be part of the ATS.
"The officers will be given special training" to meet the new challenges that they will encounter while working in ATS, says Raghuvanshi.
He adds, "They will get, among other things, a hike of 50 per cent in their salary."
Though he doesn't confirm it, other facilities like insurance, etc, will also be more. All this is subject to a final approval by the government.
"I will select officers. Everybody will be fully utilised," Raghuvanshi says, without going into details for the sake of confidentiality.
But the question remains -- when?
More reports from Maharashtra
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