Not a Surprise: Use of Sea Route for Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai

by OldSailor on November 29, 2008



No one can deny that India is a victim of terrorism. India always learns from mistakes (most of the times takes long time to learn), and instead of taking preventive actions believes more in taking corrective actions to set things right. It is well known that terrorists are free to launch their attack on their desired targets through land, air, sea routes. Media reports coming now are confirming use of sea route to launch terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 26. Was the attack a surprise ? or Was it expected ? Read more to judge yourself.

Use of land routes:

  • When land routes were frequently used for terrorist operations, India stepped up security in the borders and now
    • terrorists find it difficult to reach their targets with arms and ammunition due to strict vigil in the land borders by the security forces.
    • multiple check points are available on land to nab them even if they manage to evade at one point.

Use of air routes:

  • Air routes were used in the past to hijack passenger aircrafts for terrorist operations. By learning from the experience of IC 814 hijacking in 1999, observing 9/11 attacks in U.S in 2001, India in 2005 decided to shoot down hijacked aircraft in case of conclusive evidence to be used as a missile, like the 9/11 terror attack. Further due to strict vigil in air ports, use of passenger aircrafts for terrorist operations has reduced.
  • Use of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) for terrorist operations is difficult as of now, because
    • if UAV is small to avoid detection, then range is short and pay load is also small.
    • if UAV is large, then it can be easily detected and launch facility also would require more space.

Also terrorists are yet to acquire this expertise on use of UAVs.

Use of sea routes:

How slow and casual we are to set up coastal defence ?

  • India has 7500 km of vast coast line with 12 major ports and 180 minors ports in the country to be protected.
  • The Indian Navy operates more on the high seas and the infrastructure available with the Indian Coast Guard is not sufficient to keep strict vigil on the coast line.
  • The Times of India reports that in 1993, all weapons including RDX were landed in Shekhadi coast near Shrivardhan in Raigad district in Maharashtra  through sea route to carry out serial blasts in 1993.
  • The Hindu reports that Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out a dry run successfully to use sea route to send eight terrorists from Karachi to Mumbai in March 2007 using a commercial fishing boat.
  • Rediff News reports that on March 09, 2007, Defence Minister A K Antony cited intelligence reports to inform the Lok Sabha of the possibility that terrorists would use sea routes to enter the country. Defence Minister Antony further stated that the Coast Guard was working on methods to augment its infrastructure with Rs 500-crore Coastal Security Scheme (CSS) of 2005 to set up 73 coastal police stations across nine coastal states over a period of five years.
  • IPCS reports that in January 2008, the Indian Home Ministry undertook a comprehensive review of the CSS. During the review it was observed that only 47 coastal police stations were operational against the desired 73 coastal police stations through the five year scheme launched in March 2006.
  • Business Standard reports that the Maharashtra government has set up 12 special coastal police stations but no additional manpower has been allocated to them. Instead, local police are deployed at these police stations on rotation basis.
  • The Hindu reports that the financial meltdown has not spared the Indian Coast Guard to have UAVs for surveillance and reconnaissance and they have to share the assets of the Indian Navy. Also Director General Coast Guard, Vice-Admiral Rustom Faramroze Contractor has said that the operational to on-shore support staff ratio of the force is now 2:1 as against the desirable 1:1, and he further said that the government was aware of the shortage of manpower and was addressing it.

Considering the present state of coastal defence, how safe are these vital coastal installations from sea based terrorist attacks in India ?

  • Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) in Mumbai
  • Kalpakkam nuclear power plant near Chennai
  • Bombay High offshore oil facility
  • Chandipur-at-Sea missile-testing range in Orissa
  • Equatorial Rocket Launching Station at Thumba
  • ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre (also known as SHAR) in Andhra Pradesh
  • Defence ship building yards in Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, Visakhapatnam, Kolkatta

Post in MarineBuzz on this day a year before:

10 Reasons Why Learning Swimming is Necessary

Update: November 30

The Sunday Express reports that on November 19, just about a week before the attack in Mumbai, one of the intelligence agencies had circulated “top secret” information on the basis of an intercept the previous day that an attack had been planned from sea on Mumbai. It seems that the report was not seriously viewed to take action. Read more from Indian Express. Also more detailed report is in The Hindu.

Update: December 03

Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta on December 02, made it clear his force had received “no actionable intelligence” that could have helped pre-empt the Mumbai terror carnage, even as he candidly admitted the entire episode was reflective of “a systemic failure” which needs to be urgently addressed. Read more from The Times of India.

Also view a video clip of Admiral’s press briefing from Videos from India.

Did you enjoy this article? Please subscribe to RSS Feed to receive all the updates!

Related Posts:

  • No related posts found

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: