Red tape has held up many police modernization plans as well as purchases of arms and ammunition. “The order of the former deputy chief minister (Chhagan Bhujbal) dated 29.05.2000 in getting vendor approval for all police purchases above Rs 25 lakhs even after regular sanctions are received has created a serious bottleneck in modernizing the police forces and their equipment. The order led to the following: the QRTs could not do any firing practice since September 2007 due to shortage of ammunition although they are to do firing practice every fourth day; due to shortage of funds only Rs 15 crores has been sanctioned in the last five years as against a demand of Rs 66.14 crore, leading to a serious shortage of arms and ammunition for the Maharashtra Police; the last supply of AK47 rounds of 45,000 were received in 2005 and after December 2006, no ammunition has been received.
‘Due to red tape, the police Quick Response Teams had received no ammunition since 2006 and no firing practice since 2007’
Pradhan Committee Report
Three intelligence alerts were received from the IB regarding the possibility of Jewish targets being attacked. While they did not mention Nariman House, the police was taken completely by surprise when it was attacked. Neither the Special Branch (which is in charge of the foreigners division), nor the local police station or, for that matter, even the local Israeli consulate any idea that there was a Jewish sect residing in Nariman House. Thus when the attack came at 22:17, neither the local police nor the control room had any idea where this attack was taking place.
Questions: If the Mumbai Police is so severely disabled — due to lack of information and equipment — is it in a position to face another attack? Interestingly, the Committee’s report starts with the observation that the Maharashtra police has not experienced a direct commando attack such as the 2001 Parliament attack or the 2002 Akshardham attack and that because the 1993 serial bomb attacks were carried out through hidden and timed explosive devices, that had led to a police mindset of thinking only of stealthy time bomb attacks. But then, as the Committee’s report also warns – the next time, the terrorists might launch an air-borne attack. Of course, the ultimate question is: Is India prepared? The question becomes even more urgent since the government is reluctant to table a report that has examined one of the worst terrorist assaults that India has faced. •