Bengaluru, Jan 5: While there are several theories doing the rounds regarding the boat of terror from Pakistan, there is no denying the fact that the coast guard has just done its duty. The video evidence is being analysed by the defence lab and the clear picture will emerge once those details are out.
Coast guard thinks differently today:
When it comes to tackling internal security there is a need for a zero tolerance policy. As we had written a couple of days back that the terrorists need to be lucky just once. Moreover the Coast Guard had come in for some very severe criticism when it was alleged that they let the boat slip out which eventually led to the 26/11 attack taking place.
Post 26/11 the navy has postured itself very differently and has treated every boat coming in from Pakistan as a jihadi threat. The thinking in the Navy right from the top to the bottom level is not to be easy on any maritime activity from Pakistan and deal with it with an iron fist.
Very little can be done on the high seas:
When the coast guard is given intercepts regarding a suspicious activity, its first attempt would be to intercept it and then corner it. In this case too the coast guard did everything to ensure that the four persons on the boat surrendered so that they could be investigated.
Experts point out that in the high seas it is very difficult to operate. In fact V Balachandran, former officer of the Research and Analysis Wing points out that there is very little that the coast guards can do to make a boat stop in the high seas. What the coast guards have done in this case is extremely commendable.
A thankless job:
For the coast guards the job at times is pretty thankless. They were criticized when they allegedly slipped up prior to the 26/11 attack. They continue to be questioned even after they managed to intercept a boat which was extremely suspicious.
In the instant case, they got an intercept indicating that the boat coming into the Indian waters was suspicious. They have challenged the boat which in turn resorted to evasive tactics. Warning shots were fired in the air to try and stop the boat.
The coast guard have just shown that they have been extremely vigilant and have acted perfectly withing the charter of their duty. An operation on the high seas is not easy and the operation that they carried out did not warrant any sort of criticism at least not from the same media which had questioned them post 26/11.
Smuggling is not "Just" some activity:
The debate here is not terror vs smuggling. Both activities harm a nation in its own way. While one instantly harms the other is like slow poison. Hence on this aspect let us not negate the crime.
It is through routes created by smugglers that arms and ammunition are dropped off. We witnessed that during the 1993 blasts when the Dawood created smuggling route was used to drop off the ammunition used during the 1993 blasts.
There is one angle to the investigation that suggests that the four persons on the boat wanted to blow themselves up at the Porbandar naval base. The other angle is that they could have been coming in to drop off the ammunition to be picked up by someone else.
The pattern that one has seen in the past is that Pakistan sends in dummy boats several times in a bid to divert the attention of the agencies. Diesel and drugs have been smuggled in several times which have caught the attention of the coast guards. Several times it has been ascertained these have more or less been diversionary tactics.
The irony of a Coast Guard:
An officer with the Coast Guard says that the situation is pretty ironical. The first attempt made by any agency is to nab the culprit. A similar attempt was made here too and this lasted for over an hour. We always wanted to nab the persons on the boat, but they decided to blow the boat up.
Operating in the high seas is a very difficult job. We need to act on every alert and in this case the intercepts were extremely specific. The conversations on their Thuraya phone indicated that they were indulging in suspicious and subversive activity.
Even when we came face to face with the boat, they showed no signs of surrender as fishermen and smugglers would normally do. They were only trying to get back into Pakistan waters and when they realized they were failing they blew themselves up.