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Millennium Post

Our security needs more manpower and momentum

Banthia said the state is developing 4 small ports mainly for shipping, but which will also have facilities allocated for the Coastal police. He said that the landing points along the shore will also get a coastal police station.

Following the Kargil 1999 war, a recommendation by the Group of Ministers to establish a coastal surveillance chain, was taken seriously only after the 26/11 terrorist attack. Out of the 9 coastal states and 4 coastal union territories, Maharashtra, which has had mixed successes in implementing coastal security, now plans to raise an exclusive coastal force instead of one comprising deputationists from the existing police setup. Coast Guard’s notification to  the state government in 2011, that at least 3000 special officers will be required to guard 720 Kms of Maharashtra’s coastline has finally been implemented.

Interacting with this writer, IG, Coast Guard, West, SPS Basra, confirmed that during an exercise in April 2013, there was a quantum jump in the participation by civilian agencies, especially the coastal police, whose numbers had shot up from 1700 earlier to 3000. IG Basra informed that suitable instructions had been issued by Mumbai and Kochi Port Trusts for watching and informing  about movements of all barges and boats.

Basra cited the incident of MSV Yusufi, seized by the Coast Guard, of as a good example coordination and cooperation. Yusufi’s movement may well be an indication of the renewed efforts of the Mumbai’s underworld-with Dawood Ibrahim’s underlings which joined hands with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) supported terrorists establishing their routes for delivering  consignments. ‘If there ia any iota of intelligence available the system will respond promptly’, said Basra.

Over two months after 26/11, the Technical Seminar on Internal Security, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), with a major participation by Association of Police & Security Suppliers (APPSS) the sister trade association of the Defence Manufacturers Association (DMA), United Kingdom held on 4th and 5th February, 2009 in Delhi, reflected how ill-equipped Indian internal security agencies were in effective modern gadgetry.

During that Seminar, Shaun Hipgrave of UK’s Forensic Telecommunications, interacting with this writer expressed, ‘huge education in the field of telephone forensic measures was a major requirement in India’, where prior to 26/11, there was neither much knowledge nor consciousness about such equipment. In fact, shortly before the Mumbai attack, Hipgrave had met the late former head of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad,  Hemant Karkare, who was exploring the market for urgent requirements.

According to a white paper released at INDISEC 2010 jointly by ASSOCHAM and KPMG strengthening homeland security in India would entail the following steps, some of which have already been initiated by the Government of India: a) Encouraging greater public private participation, allowing access to and adoption of latest technologies and leveraging the growing defence sector specific competencies created within the country; b) Further strengthening of the police and paramilitary forces and intelligence machinery at the Centre and in the States through better manpower, training, equipment and other related support; c) Support greater private-public-partnerships and platforms for interactions between the Government and Corporate Institutions, creating a cohesive ecosystem; d) Defining the minimum standards for contracts, equipments and training clearly tenable transparency in overall procurements; e) Holistic expansion of defence offset policy under the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) to include equipment for the Homeland Security sector; f) Enhanced critical infrastructure protection through increased physical security and better access control systems at vital installations by leveraging the latest technology; g) Full and effective utilisation of funds under the Police Modernisation Scheme, Coastal Security Scheme, Backward Districts Initiative and other developmental schemes.

In a paper titled Opportunities in India’s Homeland Security Market, published on 12 January 2012, by Albright & Stonebridge Group News, there is ‘a huge mismatch between ambition and acquisition’. The paper stated that India’s homeland security agencies, including central armed police forces (CAPFs) and intelligence agencies, function primarily under the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Maintenance of law and order is a state subject, and all Indian provinces maintain their own police and Special Forces. Provisioning and procurement of all items for the modernisation of central police forces is handled by the Police Modernisation Division of the MHA.

In this context, when CAPFs under the Home Ministry had to draw up detailed acquisition plans they found themselves struggling to identify the right equipment and providers. With no prior experience, their two most important considerations were – what to buy and from whom? As a result, planning sprints often turned into unending marathons till 26 November  2008 when India’s internal security apparatus got a rude jolt.

Much more needs to be done on strengthening coastal and inland security by way of expediting raising and suitably arming and equipping of coastal police and expediting  pending procurements.  
Another very crucial requirement for India’s border and homeland security is to develop an effective covert capability to strike at cross - border attackers and terrorist leaders/ideologues, who in a country like Pakistan, are free to keep the cauldron of terrorism against India constantly boiling.
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