Post 26/11 there was a lot that the Indian agencies got to learn. While strengthening coastal security and gathering/sharing intelligence were the top priorities the other key aspect was to take an aggressive approach especially when it came to Pakistan as there was no way that they ever could be trusted.
The latest incident in which a boat was blown up by its inmates most definitively from Pakistan already has several theories attached to it. Talk about it being “JUST” a diesel smuggling incident has become a point of debate with many quick to question the entire operation terming it as fake.
However it would be interesting to point out here what exactly transpired and why the coast guard felt that it was important to chase down this boat and while sounding repetitive it is important to note here once again that when it comes to tackling terror and Pakistan you cannot take a chance. As the famous line goes, “ terrorists need to be lucky just once.”
When the chatter between the four men on the boat and the men in Karachi was picked up for the first time by the National Technical Research Organisation, the conversation sounded suspicious. Even for a boat “JUST” carrying diesel the chatter did not seem normal.
From 9 AM on December 31 this boat was on the radar of the agencies. The Dornier aircraft was pressed into action and deliberately told not to fly too as it could have raised an alarm. The aircraft was pressed into service once again at around 1.30 PM and it found that the boat was still on its way.
Sources tell oneindia that the boat was on their watch at all times. At no point in time was there even a discussion to fire at the boat and destroy it. We were well aware that we had the boat under control and it was not going to slip away from us.
Why information was not shared with neighbouring states:
The men on this mission were confident that they had this under control. We knew that there was no way that this boat was going to slip away from us. Information in such operations are shared only if there is a chance of a boat missing the eye of the agencies or has slipped out of our reach.
Moreover when the men on the mission are confident about tackling the situation there is no point in sharing information since it could lead to a leak. Not everyone can be trusted in a mission of this nature and it is better to let a smaller team handle it correctly rather than keep everyone in the loop and face the danger of it being leaked.
The dry run of 2007:
A year prior to the 26/11 attacks there was a dry run that was conducted by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. A commercial fishing boat was sent into the Indian waters in what the intelligence agencies termed as a dress rehearsal leading up the attack of 26/11.
It was in the month of March 2007 that this commercial fishing boat came into the Indian waters to test the security along the Karachi-Mumbai coast. The same boat however managed to get away after a bribe was allegedly paid to a coast guard official.
Was this a dry run too?
As the chatter was being picked up, the agencies had in their mind the incident of 2007. Pakistan has this reputation of sending in fishing boats into Indian waters to test the security alertness along the coast. They do realize that the easiest way of penetrating into India is through the waters.
Officials say that what was on the boat is secondary at the moment. Whether it was diesel or explosives is a subject matter of investigation which is being carried out. What we need to understand is the intent and as we tracked the movements it appeared to be extremely suspicious. It could have well been a dry run.
Ample opportunity given:
Officers part of the operation say that there was ample opportunity that was given to the men on the boat. The question of us firing on them did not arise as there was no retaliatory fire. They avoided us even as we told them to surrender and even fired warning shots.
Every possible attempt was made to intercept the boat and investigate the four men on it. However they chose to set the boat ablaze which leads to a lurking doubt that they had something to hide.
Terrorists need to be lucky just once:
The famous line that terrorists need to be lucky once while the agencies need to be lucky all the time is something that needs to be taken into account here. The coast guards were torn to bits after the 26/11 attack.
There were several review meetings that were held post that attack and the line of the Indian navy changed completely after that. The Indian Navy has been told that there is too much at stake and they cannot afford to take a chance.
Navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan, had made it clear the Navy would observe no niceties if it came across Pakistani warships due to possible threats from jihadists. He also said that if a Pakistani vessel comes close to Indian waters despite warnings, it would be viewed as a jihadi threat.