New Delhi, June 17: When it comes to guarding a country, it is extremely important that the borders are secure.
However in todays scenario, it becomes even more important to guard the sea as it continues to be exceptionally vulnerable.
India's 7,516 kilometre coastline is guarded by the state marine police, Indian coast guard and the Indian Navy.
The coastal states had complained that the security is just not enough and this led to Home Minister Rajnath Singh announcing that the government would seriously consider setting up a special marine police force.
The setting up of this force is extremely important as the sea is a busy place where illegal fishermen, drug mafia, Chinese spies, pirates and of course the terrorists operate.
In this context it must also be noted that almost all terrorist outfits have a maritime unit. The Lashkar-e-Tayiba in particular has the most advanced one and with tying up with the al-Shabab has only made it the strongest.
What equipments do maritime units of terrorist groups have?
The Lashkar-e-Tayiba makes it mandatory for every recruit to undergo a course in maritime training. In their kitty they have high speed recreational boats, scuba diving equipment and water scooters.
The Lashkar-e-Tayiba has also associated itself with two other groups the al-Shabab and the Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islamiya. Headed by Abu Yakoob, these two outfits boast of a strength of 3,000 members who have been trained to undertake maritime operations.
The al-Qaeda has used the Indian waters several times to smuggle arms. They have a dedicated team which operates on sea. However if they plan to launch a sea borne attack, they are more likely to depend on the resources of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
The other groups which specialise at sea are the Jemmah Islamiah and the Abu Sayaaf. The JI has several speed or suicide boats.
This group had attacked a US vessel in 2003. The Abu Sayaaf is a lethal group based in Philippines. They continue to use the old wooden boats to avoid coming under the radar.
However their men laden with machine guns carried out the Super Ferry attack of 2004 in which 100 were killed.
Intelligence and constant monitoring:
During an address by the former Home Secretary of India, G K India in New Delhi, he had touched upon the aspect of maritime security.
He had said that there is a constant need to upgrade maritime security. We have been constantly discussing this issue during various high level meetings. However, maritime security is not easy.
There are lakhs of fishing boats, and it is almost impossible to monitor each one of them. We could put an interceptor on a big boat, but the smaller ones are a problem, he had also said.
Intelligence Bureau officials have been pointing for long that maritime threats are the highest and most dangerous and the capabilities to launch a sea-borne attack was also seen during the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.