New Delhi: The Navy on Tuesday admitted that it was a “systemic failure” on the part of the security and intelligence establishment that led to the terror attacks in Mumbai and that lacunae did exist in India’s coastal security and intelligence sharing mechanisms.
It maintained that it did not receive any “actionable” input to effectively prevent the tragedy.
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“There is perhaps a lacunae that exists and we will work to sort this out. There is a systemic failure which needs to be taken stock of. The response from the government is going to be adequate,” Mehta said at his annual press conference ahead of the Navy Day observed on 4 December.
Pointing out that the public outrage was definitely visible, the Navy chief, responding to a query, said the government was fully conscious of it and the debate that followed the Mumbai attacks.
“We have all seen it sitting in our drawing rooms. We are fully conscious of it and the debate. The point is it is a serious issue...a serious matter of security,” he said.
Stating that exchange of information was an operational function, which went on at fairly regular intervals, the Navy chief called for effective coordination among the several agencies involved in intelligence gathering and security.
“There are several agencies involved and coordination is important. What is important is the information available should be actionable. It should have some specifics to it,” he said.
Whatever actionable inputs had come its way, Mehta said, the Navy had always taken action stoutly. He said the Coast Guard had deployed a large number of its ships off the Gujarat coast and so did the Navy.
“But there is always a first time and we need to be prepared for those times also,” he said, referring to reports that the Coast Guard had intercepted the fishing vessel ’Kuber’, but let it pass after a check.
Explaining further, Mehta said there were about 1.5 lakh fishing trawlers registered in India, over 50,000 of them in Gujarat and Maharashtra alone.
“Even if one-tenth of that number is in Mumbai proper, something like 5,000 people are coming in and going out everyday, which is fairly a large number,” he said.
However, he said there were some difference in how Indian and Pakistani fishing trawlers looked, but in this particular instance it was an Indian vessel on which the terrorists were travelling.
“This vessel was challenged by the Coast Guard, but the ship occupants had shown their valid papers and moved on,” he said.
Recalling what new Home Minister P. Chidambaram had said soon after taking over yesterday, Mehta said the government was looking at all facets (of the Mumbai attacks) to take appropriate action and response.
“I hope we should not have this kind of a things (terror strikes) once again. It is a big tragedy that has happened. We need to work to provide some kind of amelioration to the (affected) people,” Mehta said.
Video by Nidhi Bhardwaj