By Quaid Najmi, Mumbai, Nov 25 IANS | 8 months ago

As Mumbai prepares to observe the fifth anniversary of 26/11 terror attack on Tuesday, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil has assured that the "city and state are absolutely safe from such threats".


"I would like to assure all the citizens and countrymen that Mumbai and Maharashtra are absolutely safe and secure from any terror threats like 26/11," Patil told IANS in an interview Monday on the eve of the fifth anniversary.

Patil, (56) who was the state home minister during the terror attack, had been targeted by various quarters, especially the opposition parties for not being able to pre-empt and prevent the terror attack of Nov. 26-29, 2008, which left 166 dead and around 300 injured.

Barely a week after the terror attack, he had owned up moral responsibility for the numbing tragedy and resigned. He returned after the 2009 assembly elections.

Five years later, Patil is more assertive and confident as he speaks about the steps taken to secure the country's commercial capital and the state's most industrialized state from the plague of terror.

"The state and central government have jointly and individually initiated many measures to prevent and ward off such terror threats in the future, both from within and from the Arabian Sea route," he said.

Patil said that in the aftermath of the 26/11 attack, India has effectively proved to the international community that it was perpetrated by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The sole surviving terrorist, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was hanged after a full and fair trial.

"I want to take this opportunity to warn any such future perpetrators of terror targeting innocents... They will not be spared and will meet the same fate as Kasab and other terrorists. We are fully prepared to face and fight any threats," Patil said grimly.

Reluctant to reveal details as this concerns matters of security, Patil broadly said that the Mumbai and state police have been modernized, the force augmented, other additional specialized units like Force One created, better weapons, vehicles and communications facilities have been provided to them to protect the lives of the people.

On Saturday, Patil visited the elite Force Once headquarters on its 96-acres campus in Goregaon (East and reviewed its progress and preparedness to tackle any future threats.

He came away impressed - and satisfied - by the readiness of Force One to combat terror in Mumbai and its surroundings.

Set up in Nov. 2009, the first Special Inspector General of Police heading Force One was none other than senior police officer Sadanand Date - himself a scarred survivor of the Nov.26-28 Mumbai terror attacks.

Raised on the lines of the National Security Guard (NSG) which had also joined other forces during the 26/11 strike, the Force One is intended to reach any terror spot within 15 minutes to combat terrorists and prevent further damage.

In the past five years, besides augmenting the various forces safeguarding the city, the state government had taken up programs to install CCTVs at various public places, traffic junctions, railway stations, major government and private offices, vital installations, sensitive locations and other important venues in Mumbai, Pune and later in other major cities in the state.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)

(Posted on 25-11-2013)