Intelligence on Mumbai was given to navy, coast guard: Chidambaram (Lead)

December 11th, 2008 - 3:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) Intelligence reports of a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) vessel attempting to infiltrate into Mumbai was shared with the Coast Guard as well as the naval intelligence, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Thursday, while asserting that India cannot go back to “business as usual” with Pakistan.In a statement to the Lok Sabha, Chidambaram dwelt for the first time since he took over Dec 1 on whether intelligence on the Mumbai attack was evaluated and acted upon. He specified that the intelligence information was shared with the director general of the Coast Guard and the principal director of the naval intelligence.

“The Coast Guard made a serious effort including deploying vessels and aircraft to locate the suspect vessel but was not successful. The navy found that the coordinates of the vessel, as reported, placed it well within the territorial waters of Pakistan,” Chidambaram said in his speech on the Mumbai terror attacks.

He emphasised that there was need to make the intelligence machinery “effective” and “result-oriented” and said time had come to take hard decisions to prepare the country and people to face the challenge of terrorism.

Chidambaram asserted that valuable evidence had been gathered to establish the involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants from Pakistan in the Mumbai terror attack and said India “cannot go back to business as usual” with its neighbour.

“We will strain every nerve to defend our borders. Given the nature of the threats, we cannot go back to business as usual. Hard decisions will be taken to protect our country and its people.

“The finger of suspicion unmistakably points to the territory of our neighbour Pakistan,” Chidambaram said on the terror attacks in Mumbai that killed 164 people including 26 foreigners.

The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external intelligence agency, claimed it had given information specifying the places and the time bracket the terrorists were expected to attack, official sources earlier told IANS.

At least on four occasions and even on Nov 26, the day 10 militants laid siege on high-profile targets in Mumbai, including the Oberoi Trident and the Taj hotels, RAW had tipped off authorities of the impending attack by sea.

“The navy had committed several surface units and aircraft in the zone during the period Nov 19-20. In the absence of further inputs or information from the agencies concerned, the navy concluded that no further action could be taken on the basis of the available information,” said Chidambaram.

“All aspects concerning intelligence are under my examination. While the basic structure seems sound, there is need to make intelligence gathering and sharing more effective and result oriented. Some changes have already been made and more are underway.”

Making a statement in the house, Chidambaram said 10 Pakistani nationals belonging to the LeT left Karachi Nov 23, boarded a launch called Al Hussaini and hijacked an Indian fishing vessel M.V. Kuber before landing up in Mumbai in inflatable dinghies.

Chidambaram said there was a tendency among intelligence gathering agencies to “treat some intelligence inputs that are not specific or precise as not actionable intelligence”.

“Some changes are have already been made and more are underway,” said Chidambaram on how he hopes to reform intelligence gathering to make it accountable and responsive.

As follow-up measures to the audacious attack, Chidmbaram said the government had decided to set up 20 counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism schools in different parts of country for training commando units of the state police forces.

A decision had also been taken to create a coastal command for supervision and coordination of maritme and coastal security of India’s coastline that extended to 7,500 km.

Reiterating what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said a week ago on improving the elite National Security Guard (NSG), the home minister said NSG units would be located in a few regional hubs instead of concentrating them in one single place.

A separate exercise was also underway to strengthen the laws relating to terrorist acts that included the setting up of a National Investigating Agency, he said.

“I hope to introduce a set of bills to strengthen the legal provisions relating to the prevention, investigation, prosecution and punishment of terrorist acts. I would also urge the house to pass the amendment Bill to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.”

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