NEWS

India Improves its Counterterrorism Approach as Mumbai Anniversary Approaches

By Matthew Harwood

On the first anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks on Thursday, a newly trained and heavily-armed elite commando unit will march to the sites of the attacks as a show of force that the country has improved its security since 166 people were slaughtered by a group of terrorist commandoes, reports Abu Dhabi's The National.

“Force One”, an elite commando unit of the Maharashtra state police, created in the aftermath of 26/11, is being trained in various aspects of counter-terrorism operations with Israeli, Russian and German trainers. The unit is slated to make its public debut in Mumbai next week on the first anniversary of the attacks, according to Mr Shivanandan, when it will march with the city police to the sites of the attack along with a display of the weaponry that has been inducted into the police force.

According to The National, Force One is only one of a multitude of new counterterrorism policies and procurements to convince the Indian public that the government can protect them after 10 gunmen—allegedly armed and trained by a Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)—plunged Mumbai into chaos. Immediately after the attacks ended last November, the public outrage forced the resignation of the country's top security official.

The Indian government has since spent 6.3 million rupees, approximately $135 million, to modernize its police forces, to improve coastal security, to create an Indian version of the FBI, and to establish regional hubs for its National Security Guard (NSG), which helped end the four-day long killing spree after a slow response.

The National reports the government security spending includes purchases of new weapons and bulletproof vests for woefully equipped police officers. During the Mumbai attack, police officers responded with WW-II era bolt-action rifles that worked sporadically while wearing faulty bulletproof vests.

India has also invested in radar systems, five submersibles for the Navy, and two bulletproof boats for the Mumbai police to increase coastal surveillance. The 10 attackers entered the city from the sea.

“Many systems are in place that were absent a year back. But let me be frank and tell you that it is still a work in progress," Mumbai Police Commissioner D Shivanandan told the paper. "However, what I can say confidently is that there is a heightened sense of security and the operational preparedness of our [security forces] has improved.”

India has also reached out to its foreign allies to improve its counterterrorism program. Today Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will start a three-day state visit to the United States to discuss the two nations' relationship on a multitude of issues with President Barack Obama. According to the Times of India, the two heads of state will sign an information sharing and counterterrorism agreement.


♦ Photo of Taj Mahal Hotel by d ha rm e sh/Flickr

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