26/11: 3 years on, Mumbai seems better prepared

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Mumbai Terror Attacks on Taj Hotel
Mumbai, Nov 25: Three years after terrorists struck the city leaving 166 dead, India's financial capital seems better prepared to deal with such attacks having set up an elite commando unit and plans to fit transponders in boats of fishermen to detect suspicious movement.

The state government has fulfilled "majority of the recommendations" of the Ram Pradhan committee instituted after the 26/11 attacks to suggest measures on how to improve the security system in the state, Maharashtra's Additional Chief Secretary (Home) U C Sarangi said.

"On the lines of the NSG, we have set up a 350 strong elite commando unit called Force one which is well equipped with the latest weapons and trained by Army and foreign experts. Every year, Rs 17 crore is being spent on this unit," he said.

As part of security measure to protect shores of Mumbai, Maharashtra Government plans to fit transponders in the boats of fishermen along the coast.

However, some problem areas still remain.

Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is grappling with a severe manpower crunch with 283 posts of the total 732 lying vacant, two-and-a-half years after the panel, set up to probe state police's response to the Mumbai attacks recommended streamlining the force.

Of the sanctioned strength of 732 personnel for the ATS, which was formed in 2004 to counter terrorism and probe terror cases, 283 posts or 38.66 percent of the required manpower are lying vacant as on September 1, 2011, ATS sources said.

Ahead of the 26/11 anniversary, there is no specific threat or input from intelligence agencies but there is always a chance that terror outfits could resort to a "symbolic strike" to mark the third anniversary of the worst terror strike on India, home department sources said.

Among the events being held tomorrow to mark the third anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks is unveiling of a memorial for slain policeman Tukaram Ombale.

A bust of Ombale will be unveiled tomorrow at Girgaum Chowpatty. Three years have passed since that fateful night when Assistant Sub Inspector Ombale lost his life while trying to nab terrorist Ajmal Kasab at Girgaum Chowpatty.

The four-feet high bronze statue was fabricated on the basis of approved photographs of Ombale and his uniform, the sculptors said.

On the eve of the terror attacks, memories of that fateful night come rushing back to the braveheart's wife Tarabai and four daughters.

"My mother is still coming to terms with the loss, but around this time each year she is a little more anxious than usual," Vaishali, Ombale's daughter, said describing her mother's state of mind.

Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan will be laying a wreath at the martyrs memorial situated at Police gymkhana in South Mumbai. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar will be present.

Apart from the remembrance of the victims of the attack and those who died fighting to save Mumbai from terrorists, no other function is planned, Sarangi said.

"The memorial will be thrown open to the public to come and pay their respects," he said.

The state government run J J Hospital has organised blood donation camps in Mumbai where the city police officials will donate blood, he said.

A Marathi film based on the life of a policeman, witness to the 26/11 attacks, is being released on the eve of the third anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks. Titled "Hello Jai Hind," the film has noted art director Nitin Desai debuting as an actor and music by Ilayaraja, who is composing for a Marathi film for the first time.

PTI

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