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The Rediff Interview/Maharashtra DGP A N Roy
'Despite attacks, Mumbai's image has not changed'
December 15, 2008
Maharashtra Director General of Police AN Roy talks to Makarand Gadgil on the terror attacks in Mumbai and its fallout.
In the wake of the 26/11 terrorist attacks, how would you like to assure citizens that they are safe in the state and in Mumbai?
It is a bad time to assure citizens of something. There is anger against the government machinery and that is understandable. Despite the terror attack, the basic feature of Mumbai as a safe and secure city for everyone, whether he is living in a slum or is the CEO of a corporate giant, has not changed.
Parents in the city don't worry about their young professional daughters coming home late at night in public transport. Having said that, there is no guarantee that this -- a better law-and-order situation in the city compared with other metros -- will protect you from a terror attack.
But I would like to assure citizens that we are on the job. In the last two years or so, the Mumbai Police has busted at least half-a-dozen modules of terrorists, who were preparing to attack the city. The most famous one was in 2006, when we busted a module that was planning to attack the New Year revellers. However, we restrain ourselves from giving publicity to these incidents as we don't want to create panic among the citizens.
After any major terror attack, we see a blame game between central intelligence agencies and state governments. What do you think needs to be done to strengthen the intelligence network in the country?
I am not a child. I don't need to be told that there is a threat to Mumbai from terrorists. We know Mumbai is the financial capital of the country. So even without such warning it is my job and that of my force to protect the citizens of the city and the state from such attacks.
No intelligence agency can give the exact date, time and place of a terror attack. Even the world's most powerful intelligence agency, the CIA, failed to do that in the case of 9/11. However, whenever we have got actionable intelligence, we have delivered. But as state police, we can't run away from our responsibility of collecting intelligence and taking action on it.
After the 2006 train blasts, we decided to create a separate intelligence cadre. However, due to drawbacks in our system, we were not able to fully implement what we had decided. We have completed the recruitment of constabulary and are in the process of completing the recruitment of officials.
One criticism was that the police force on the ground had World War II guns and that the bullet-proof jackets of the force were sub-standard. That's why we saw so many casualties in the police force.
Modernisation of the force is the need of the hour and is my top priority. But one can't expect police force in the railway station to be equipped with arms like AK-47 assault rifles. The police force is essentially created to deal with civilians. One can't imagine every policeman or policewoman on the street carrying AK-47.
So we need specialised teams in the police force to deal with such situations. But one must understand that policemen and officers from nearest police stations will be the first ones to reach the spot and will be the first in the firing line.
On bullet-proof jackets, I'd like to point out that there is no bullet-proof jacket that can stop a bullet fired from .303 rifles. In the case of modern assault rifles, if one gets hit from 10 metres, then too the bullet can pierce the shield.
In the case of ATS chief Hemant Karkare [Images], the bullet hit his throat, which is not protected by any jacket, Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamate was not wearing the jacket as it hampers mobility. Only in the case of Senior Inspector Vijay Salaskar did the bullet pierce his bullet-proof jacket.
Another neglected area is coastal security. In 1993, explosives were shipped into the city through the sea route. It seems we have learnt no lessons from that incident.
I have to admit that the state of coastal security, not only in Maharashtra but in all states that have long coast lines, is not up to the mark. But that is an area of concern and both the central and state governments are working on it. We have set up 12 police stations along the coast line of the state. The central government is providing state governments modern speed boats with modern surveillance equipment and armoury.
All we can say at this stage is that all terrorists came from Karachi and were Pakistani nationals. But whether any Pakistani agency was involved or who funded these operations, who trained these terrorists, etc, are questions that are still under investigation and I don't want to create a diplomatic incident by revealing what we have got in the investigation. We will pass the information to the central government, which will take up the issue at appropriate forums.
The Mumbai Police has denied any local hand in the attack. Do you think it is possible to carry out such an operation without local support?
What the Mumbai Police has said so far is that they have not found any local link yet, that all terrorists involved in the incident had come to Mumbai for the first time and no logistical support was given to them at the local level. However, we are not ruling out local support and a probe is on in this direction as well.
The role of the 24x7 electronic media in the coverage of the attack has been criticised, especially when they showed commandos being dropped from helicopter at Trident Hotel and Nariman House. What is your view?
Let me clarify that after the initial two-three hours, we switched off the telecast of all channels, including news channels, to these hotels, so it was not possible for them to know what was happening outside by watching television.
However, I would like to appeal to the media to show some restraint when operations are at a critical stage. It would be in everyone's interest.
After the attack, the BJP and the Shiv Sena said the ATS and the entire police machinery failed to prevent the attack because you were busy investigating the so-called Hindu terror and failed to see the present danger.
If that were the case, the train blasts should have never happened. After all, at that time we were not investigating any Hindu terror. However, as the train blasts accused belonged to the minority community, we were criticised by some minority organisations, human rights activists and even some political parties. This time we have been criticised by some other organisations. This shows our neutrality as far terror investigations are concerned.
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