Monday, December 01, 2008

LeT there be darkness…

It all started in a bank I visited long time back, when I was a student. I had to get some papers signed by the bank officials, was moving from one desk to another, trying to finish off the work. The movement of my file suddenly stopped at one desk. After waiting for half an hour, I asked the officer what was the next step. He gave me a dirty look and said that the clerk on the next table has to sign and put the rubber stamp on the papers. Surprsingly, the clerk who is going to give the ‘finishing touches’ to my papers was sitting in his place. Then what are we waiting for?, I asked. The officer told me that the peon has gone to get tea for the office. The peon has to take my papers from one table to the other which was about three meters away! If the peon is on leave, then I have to go back the next day!


That seems to be the problem with our administrators.


We are waiting for the peon to come and take our files from table to table, even if we can stretch our hands and pass it on…


My heart bleeds for all those who lost their lives in the terror attack here in Mumbai.


They laid down their lives so that peace is restored and all of us can live in peace.

Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, Gajendra Singh, Shashank Shinde, Patil and Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan (are few names that come to my mind) had families waiting for them.

What is the scene from the family’s viewpoint? The dear one leaves home for work and then you get a message about “bad news” followed by condolence messages and a long line of politicians with flowers in their hands, hiding their blood stains.


And then there is darkness…



Many newspapers gave this interesting piece of news:


Intelligence agencies had informed at least a year ago that the Pakistan based jehadi outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) was planning to attack mumbai’s five-star hotels after coming to the city via the sea. (HT-Dec1st,2008).

Fishermens union says that they had informed the police a month back that there is a plan to smuggle RDX from Pakistan through Gujarat, enter Mumbai through the sea and carry out terror strikes.


CNN IBC shows a report they made in Feb 2006 about a “sting operation” they carried out- to smuggle a box of contraband through the sea, land in konkan coast and enter Mumbai.

They did.

They successfuly reached the gateway of India with the box.

Nobody checked the box. It was a peaceful journey. On the way, they visited several customs offices, talked to the officers, studied the “patrol” boats and shared the findings with the viewers. Customs officials at one place had three boats but one driver, who was on leave when the reporters reached there. One of the boats was not serviceable for more than a year. The report showed some staff members enjoying their sunday siesta in the boat.

"What will you do if we smuggle some weapons through this area?" - the journalists asked.

There was no answer.


Another report says that the NSG took 10 hours to reach Mumbai. The only plane they could find was in Chandigarh at that time. I wonder what they would have done if a minister was also trapped in one of the hotels. Can 200 NSG men travel in two smaller planes? Maybe they will, depending on the names of hostages.


There are more questions than answers to this jig saw puzzle…


What stops our administrators to realize the dangers of leaving our coastline with insufficient surveillance, when hundreds of news reports had pointed to our “special enemy” sending many consignments of weapons, explosives, training personnel and material, beautiful currency notes?


Is it rocket science?


My hypothesis is that the “unguarded coastline” was by design - not by accident or negligence.

There might be a lobby in action either to keep the coasts unguarded or to keep the modernization plans (if any) postponed indefinitely.


We need facts:

The need of the hour is to study all the official documents related to our country’s coastline, how much intelligence warnings the administrators got and how much understanding we have about the various terror groups and their competence.


We will start with the “porous” coast:

How much are the authorities aware of the grave danger posed by the porous coast?

How many terror attacks have taken place so far, where the enemy smuggled the raw materials through the sea?

How many administrators have pointed out the seriousness of the porous coastline and the need for revamping the coast guard?

How many home ministers have handled these issues and how did each one handle the situation?

Did anyone conduct a study on the preparedness of our security forces at the coastline?

Did anyone shoot down any proposals of modernization? When? How many times?

Do we have such a shortage of funds that we can’t afford modern equipments for our security forces?


Where is the bottleneck?

Do we need a home minister who will show some common sense in learning from our big big mistakes and take steps to create a better equipped coast guard?

To have better security in key locations?

To make sure that we don’t sit on intelligence warnings?

After almost every terror attack, we read this news: Intelligence agencies HAD warned the state administration.

Is there a pattern there? Do the administration take all warnings very lightly, by default?

Do they laugh it off?


How much do we spend on security to our ministers, their foreign trips and their facilities?

There is something wrong somewhere, maybe mistaken priorities?

After all what Partilsaab said was true: “Itna bada sheher mein…….”. (small incidents like this happen on big cities like this!!)



LeT there be darkness.