The government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it has outlined "multi-pronged strategy" to combat and counter terror attacks like 26/11 in Mumbai and Naxalism, which includes setting up of 20 anti-terrorism schools across the country and special policing scheme for sensitive mega cities.
It said a special policing scheme has been formulated for Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahemedabad which bore the brunt of terror attacks in recent times.
The Centre outlined the measures taken by it to deal with terrorism in response to a notice issued to it by the apex court on a Public Interest Litigation filed by former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee who had alleged 26/11 attacks have exposed the mismatch between the might of terrorist outfits and the state machinery to counter them.
It said that apart from pursuing a "multi-pronged" strategy to deal with terrorism "20 Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorism Schools are being established in different parts of the country with the purpose of offering training to police personnel."
"In addition, the Mega City Policing Scheme, which is dedicated to enable the respective state governments to meet the unique policing needs in the seven mega cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, will enable the respective state governments to meet their needs," the affidavit filed by the Home Ministry said.
The Centre said it has been adopting a multi-pronged strategy to deal with terror, which include deployment of specific forces on different borders and supplementing efforts of state government in modernisation of forces.
Keeping in view the Mumbai terror attack in which the terrorists had used sea route to enter the country, the government said, "A dedicated scheme for securing the coast line of the country is being implemented by the Home Ministry in which assistance is provided to the coastal states for capacity-building to meet the needs of the policing of coastal areas."
"The scheme envisages equipping these coastal police stations with vessels, jeeps and motorcycles and the manpower in respect of the scheme shall have to be provided by the respective states and union territories," the affidavit said.
Among the several steps taken, the Centre said regional hubs of National Security Guards have been set up and amendment has been made in anti-terror law to reinforce punitive provisions to combat terrorism.
Countering the allegations of Sorabjee that the Maharashtra police was ill-equipped to meet the challenges of terrorist outfits, the Centre said the state has been allocated Rs 725.62 crore between 2000 to 2009 for upgrading its infrastructure which included modern weaponry, intelligence gathering equipment etc.
The affidavit said in order to supplement the efforts of state governments in modernising their police forces, the Centre has been implementing Non-plan Scheme.
"The scheme for modernisation of state police forces is an important initiative of the Home Ministry towards capacity building of the state police forces, especially for meeting the emerging challenges to internal security in the form of terrorism, Naxalism, etc," it said.
Further, the Centre has been emphasising the need for setting up anti-terror squads by state governments and a number of them have already put in place such squads, the affidavit said.
Sorabjee had filed the PIL after the Mumbai attack seeking direction for equipping police and security forces with modern weapons and devices to combat and counter terror attacks. He had alleged terrorist attacks in Mumbai have exposed that weapons used by the police are no match to the arms and ammunition carried by terrorists.
When a notice was issued on the PIL, it was pointed out that the ill-equipped police failed to counter the offensive of the terrorists at Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus. The killing of police personnel wearing bullet-proof jackets, including Anti-Terrorist Squad Chief Hemant Karkare, at the CST terminus speaks volume on the nature of the equipment supplied to the police force, Sorabjee had said.
While the police at the CST were countering with 303 assault rifles, terrorists were armed with deadly weapons, Sorabjee's counsel had said adding NSG commandos deployed to flush them out reached Mumbai only 9 hours after the attacks and had to be transported by a bus in the absence of special vehicles.
Sorabjee, who was the AG during the previous National Democratic Alliance government, pointed to 18 major terrorist incidents since the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, to support his contention for training and arming the police force with modern weapons to thwart any further attack while creating an atmosphere where citizens' right to life is protected.
Sorabjee, who was the Chairman of the Police Reforms Committee, contended that the shortcoming of police and security forces emerging from the Mumbai terror attacks establish the violation of Article 21 of the Constitution which calls for protection of life and liberty of citizens, without which, other fundamental rights are incapable of being exercised.
Image: Photographers run past a burning Taj Mahal Hotel during a gunbattle in Mumbai
Photograph: Arko Dutta / Reuters