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Navy, Coast Guard conducting operations simulating 26/11

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Indian Navy coast guard drills. A file photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Navy and the Coast Guard are carrying out operations simulating 26/11-type attacks to prepare themselves to tackle such incidents in future and a similar drill is being planned in Mumbai around the date the militants struck last year.

The focus of the operations, being conducted since last month, is to cut down on the response time and strengthen the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for all the security agencies in times of such attacks, Defence Ministry sources told PTI here.

During such operations, they said, combined troops of Navy, Coast Guard and other local security forces divide themselves into two teams.

A small team of trained commando’s dresses up the way Ajmal Kasab and his accomplices were attired and hires a boat without letting the other team know about it.

This small team, sources said, tries to attack a vital shore-based installation in a particular state, same way the terrorists did during last year's attacks.

At first, sources said, the effort is made by the security agencies to arrest the 'hijacked' vessel on basis of information received from patrol boats or from the fishermen.

If the attacking team manages to escapes and reaches the shore, they added, it tries to capture a vital building such as a nuclear installation, hotel or a government office and the other forces try to 'eliminate' them in shortest time possible.

"The whole effort helps us to analyse the situation better and allows us to improve our response in such a scenario," a source said.

On the western coast, the exercise has already taken place in states such as Gujarat, Kerala and Goa and will be held in Maharashtra around the same time the Mumbai attacks took place last year, the sources said.

After all the exercises, they said, it has been observed that after analysing the lessons learnt during the operations, the forces have been able to finetune their shortcomings.

While conducting the operations, the Coast Guard coordinates with the Chief Secretaries of the respective states and their police forces and briefs them about the conduct of the operations.

Another key focus area during the exercises, sources said, is to educate the fishermen about remaining alert in the sea and act as "ears and eyes" of the security agencies.

After the 26/11 terror attacks last year, where ten terrorists had attacked multiple targets in Mumbai and killed over 150 people, the Government has laid focus on strengthening coastal security and improving the wherewithal of the Navy, Coast Guard, Customs and Fisheries departments of state governments.

In the recent past, Coast Guard and the Navy have conducted various large-scale exercises such as Operation Rahband and Operation Raksha to increase cooperation among all the concerned agencies to prevent terrorists from using the sea route to enter and attack Indian coastline.

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