The Organisation to Counter Terrorist Operations, or OCTOPUS was formed after the twin blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat Bhandar in Hyderabad.
OCTOPUS was formed with the primary objective of dealing with cases pertaining to terrorism, considering the fact that Hyderabad had seen many attacks and was an extremely volatile city. However, it appears that this organisation is not fully functional today, and many believe that had it been so, it could have prevented the blasts at Dilsukhnagar which claimed 17 lives.
A K Mohanty, former Director General of Police, Andhra Pradesh discusses in this interview with rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa the role of OCTOPUS, and the challenge ahead for the police in Hyderabad in dealing with terrorism.
The OCTOPUS was originally conceived as an integrated unit which was to have operational and intelligence capabilities. It was to be a self-contained unit to deal with such cases.
However, what I see of it now is that it a unit with a little more expertise and it does not appear that it has been made full use of. I feel that it should have been made fully functional and ought to have been given support in the form of resources and man power.
If this unit has the command control structure in place, it would have been of great use. However, I could say that the OCTOPUS did not get the support it deserved. One should understand that this unit was set up primarily to deal with the problem of urban terrorism.
I feel that the OCTOPUS needed to be tried out. It should have been made fully functional, and it ought to have been reviewed earlier.
If the OCTOPUS was made full fledged it should have operated with the rest of the police force. The question of diluting the local police was not the option. Everyone needs to go together when fighting such a problem and the concept of sustained security was needed.
There are questions that are asked whether Hyderabad is a safe city today. I would say it is a safe city. However, the challenges before the police today are far too many; both internal and external.
What I find more important is that there needs to be a national will to deal with the problem. Not only is the police, but even citizen participation is important.
There are several strategies that are available to deal with the problem. But is that enough? What I find most disturbing is that when there is an incident, we all get agitated, but we soon forget about the issue.
There is a requirement to strengthen the police force, but even the people should take part. We spend so much on ceremonies, but are people willing to contribute for police reforms?
The people do expect a lot out of the police. On one hand you want hotels to be open until 2 am, and on the other you want to be safe too. If the police needs to give 24-hour protection to all citizens, then the numbers need to increase and also more technology is required.
I also do not entirely agree with the view that every policeman is not doing his job. When we say that the police force is insufficient, then there is a bit of both truth and false.
The question regarding the safety of the Old City of Hyderabad is another issue that keeps cropping up. I can only say that law and order needs to be improved everywhere.
We need to optimise the fight and understand the spirit of the Constitution. The administration and other mechanisms are available to sought out every problem and what we have is good enough.
With the existing mechanism we can fight the problem. The first thing is not to blame and see within yourself what is required to be done.
Image: OCTOPUS personnel check vehicles for explosives after a fresh terror alert from the Central government was issued
Photo courtesy: SnapsIndia