Mumbai terror attack a systemic failure: navy chief (Lead)

December 2nd, 2008 - 5:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta Tuesday attributed the Mumbai terror attack to a “systemic failure” and said they had no prior “actionable” intelligence inputs.“There has been no actionable input. Actionable input is when there is a point in time and at a particular place,” said Mehta, who along with the Coast Guard has come under fire for the lapse that led to the terrorists landing on the shores of Mumbai despite advance intelligence inputs.

Showing concern at the “public outrage”, the navy chief stressed the need for assessing the situation adequately.

“It (public outrage) is a serious issue. The security lapse is a systemic failure and it has to be taken stock of,” Mehta said at the annual navy press conference ahead of the Navy Day.

“The exchange of information is an ongoing and regular function. But information given should be actionable. When actionable input has come we have acted. The Coast Guard had deployed ships on the coast of Gujarat,” Mehta, who has earlier commanded the Coast Guard, said.

The gunmen are presumed to have come from Karachi in a fishing trawler - MV Kuber - and were in Indian territorial waters for 72 hours before beginning the 60-hour attack that left at least 183 people dead.

“There are 1.5 lakh (150,000) registered fishing trawlers in India, of which over 50,000 are in Gujarat and Maharashtra. If you take even one third in Mumbai it comes to nearly 5,000 trawlers, which is a fairly large number.

“There is a difference between Indian and Pakistan trawlers but if an Indian trawler is being used, as in this case, then we are helpless. This is a lacunae and we have to plug it,” Mehta admitted.

In a bid to plug the gaping holes, he has suggested the fixing of transponders and employing electronic means for better surveillance of the shoreline.

“We need to have some mechanical device to keep a track of who has gone (into the sea). We need to go little electronic. Transponders help in keeping a track on the vessels through our radars,” said Mehta.

Mehta also called for a greater “synergy” among players controlling the layered security of the 7,516-km-long coastline.

“The coastal security in present formulation envisages layers. The Indian Navy is till 200 nautical miles from the coast, before that is the Coast Guard and then Marine Police and the port security.

“We are looking at options for better synergy. We should also have a strong marine police. It is unfortunate that it is not fully operational,” Mehta said.

So far, only 58 of the 73 approved coastal police stations have been made operational, a little more than the halfway mark.

The navy chief also spoke of the navy’s lack of prosecution powers: “Indian Navy does not have a right to prosecution. It can only be done by the Coast Guard. Even if we catch somebody we have to hand him over to the Coast Guard. If the law is amended it will be beneficial,” he added.

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