MUMBAI’S BANE

 In Speaker / Gateway

Last Tuesday Subodh Jaiswal, Director General of Maharashtra Police, addressed the Club on Terrorism: A Bane for Mumbai

DGP Jaiswal began by highlighting the beginning of terrorism in Mumbai. “Mumbai saw its first tryst with terrorists in March 1993 when several bomb explosions took place throughout the city. The death toll was 257 while injuries went to 700 plus. In 2003, blasts took place in three separate parts of the city in buses/ trains and many people died. The number of injured people was also significant.”

Next, it was the serial train blasts of 2006 on Mumbai’s lifeline railway network that shook the country. DGP Jaiswal added, referring to the Taj Mahal Palace, “Today, we are at a venue which became the focus of world attention on November 26, 2008; 171 people died while 239 were injured. The iconic figure of the Taj was splashed all over the world and one saw armed foreign terrorists attacking India. The battle went on for three days. However, the perpetrators did not realise that their actions had put our neighbouring country in the dock forever, where it continues to remain.”

Mumbai, as the financial capital and heart of the country, is a soft target for anti-social elements. But, is Mumbai Police prepared to prevent such antisocial activities? “Yes,” answered DGP Jaiswal with confidence and pride. “We have SOPs and drills that have been carried out. I can say, with confidence, that god forbid if something happens, we can handle the situation more efficiently than ever before.”

Fortunately, there has not been a terrorist act in Mumbai since 26/11 and DGP Jaiswal takes the opportunity to
applaud the several agencies, units and police forces which work relentlessly behind the scenes to ensure that nothing untoward happens. The Government has also made strong diplomatic efforts such as the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) examination of Pakistan’s role in terrorism.

Terrorism, as a phenomenon, divides communities and obstructs sustainable development. Interestingly, cyberspace which was supposed to be a tool to bring all the facilities to the common people, has become a tool for propaganda, communication and recruitment. “This is something that security agencies are very concerned about. But after encountering such challenges, strategies have been worked upon by us and we have put in place lots of preventive measures which are helping. The challenge is still immense,” said DGP Jaiswal.

Post the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, the world view on terrorism changed. Voices began to be heard at various multilateral forums of India being a victim of terrorism. “Let me assure you we are maintaining strong igilance. We have the capacity, the will as well as the desire to neutralise any threat,” assured DGP Jaiswal.

Eliminating terrorism will need a very focussed approach from communities and families. They have to be at the forefront to prevent individuals vulnerable to suspect ideologies. Civil society organisations like the Rotary will have to provide opportunities and engage with youngsters, young men and women across communities, to provide direction and purpose. There is a need to work together as a society to engage across communities. “The more we do it, the more cohesive our nation will become. You can do it! Rotary as an organisation is the best suited. I recall the Rotary 4-Way test, of truth, fairness, building goodwill and better friendships and benefit to all. It provides a sense of equity and is the best guiding principle for any organisation. I hope and I request that you look at contributing in a way whereby cultural and economic marginalisation, if any, can be handled effectively by providing
opportunities to youngsters and engaging with them,” DGP Jaiswal said.

Mumbai is a very resilient city. “I recall that the original logo of the Mumbai police had something written on it in Latin: Urbs Prima in Indis which basically meant Prima City of India. I think it should continue to strive to remain the same, terrorism notwithstanding,” concluded DGP Jaiswal.

 

AUDIENCE QUESTIONS

What steps are being taken to restructure and modernise Mumbai Police?
As far as restructuring of Maharashtra Police is concerned, a lot of it has already taken place. We have Quick Reaction Teams which are very well placed. We have strategically-placed bomb disposal teams in sufficient numbers and more importantly we have situational awareness at a very high degree. Periodic exercises are also being carried out. In terms of equipment, weaponry, we are much better off today. These are all incremental things that go on taking place, we have a lot of research on the planning done by terrorists and we plan how we may counter. Any further change will depend on the challenges.

In the Samjhauta Express case, for example, it must be frustrating for you to do the investigation, only to find that judicial procedures make the process slow. Your comments on that?
There is a legal process in place and we have to live and work according to the law of the land. If it says that someone is not guilty, then the person is not guilty. You will probably have to go back to the crime boards to see where you made mistakes, in prosecution or collection of evidence.

Do you think there is a terrorism threat in the future?
We will continue to face terrorist problems in various parts of the country. There is also the challenge of homegrown characters, though small. Our challenge is to identify them and take legal action against them. We are fully competent, aware and willing to face the challenge.

Looking at the past, coastal areas have a little nakabandi but it seems like one can still get through that. Are there any governance initiatives like reintroduction of Nagar Raj Bill?
As far as coastal security, we are more equipped today than before. We have to look at alternatives to guard the long coastal line for which we have to look at collecting intelligence. At the same time, a degree of preventive measures have to be put in place in the coastal waters. There is a three-layer protection scheme: Navy, Coast Guard and Police. What happened in 2008 is that we did not anticipate it, it was not envisaged. As far as involvement of public is concerned, we have very active Twitter account, which is very effective. A strong command centre has been put in the city. Video cameras have been installed everywhere and this has been a force multiplier for us.

How much of a time bomb is the social environment of people living in slums for disruption of social harmony?
Slums are not a time bomb that disrupt social harmony. As far as terrorism is concerned, these are acts carried out by members of terrorist groups so to state that it only comes from one place is not accurate. One of the members from a group was very well-educated. Slums are not a breeding ground for disruption. Challenges can be due to many reasons and slums are not the reason.

What is the objective of nakabandi? And, are you getting desired results out of it?
Yes, it causes inconvenience to a lot of people but it is a great deterrent and very effective tool with good results.

No terrorist attack has taken place in the US after 9/11 and this is largely attributed to US intelligence. But the Pulwama attack is touted as a failure of Indian intelligence; is that true?
To say that terrorist incidents did not take place in the USA after 9/11 is not correct. The Times Square bombing took place in 2014. A truckfull of kerosene and other flammable objects were placed there and it would have exploded, had it not been for the bravery of two policemen and a failure of the mechanism. At a US Army air base, a serving US soldier took out a weapon and fired at a large number of army men. On these two counts, it will not be right to say that nothing happened after 9/11. As far as the Pulwama attack is concerned, there are certain things I cannot share
in public.

PP RTN. SANDIP AGARWALLA’S UPDATE OF RCB’S ACTIVITIES WITH THE MUMBAI POLICE
In the past, when a lot of hostages were being taken in BEST buses, CRPF, airport, hijacking of India Airlines plane, we went to then-Police Commissioner D Sivanandan and asked him if he would like an inspector to be trained for hostage negotiation from Scotland Yard. We specified ‘inspector’ so he could remain in Bombay. He gave us 12 inspectors to interview and choose from. We chose one, a lady inspector Shalini Sharma. We sent her to Scotland Yard and then to Interpol. She returned to train several other police personnels. Later, Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik wanted us to train 20 police officers in Mumbai. We agreed and we got two inspectors down from Scotland Yard to hold a twoweek course.

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