Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pradhan report slams commando utilisation

Pradhan report slams commando utilisation
By: Vinod Kumar Menon & Ketan Ranga Date: 2009-12-02 Place: Mumbai


No target practice, less than optimum utilisation of funds and shortage of ammunition led to inadequate response to terror attacks

The elite commando force or the Quick Response Team (QRT) formed to counter terror attacks in 2003 has not carried out firing practice since 2007, says the Pradhan Committee report.

The startling revelation has come to light by the committee that was formed post 26/11 by the state government to investigate the role of security forces during the terror attacks.

It was learnt that the QRT commandos, who were otherwise expected to undergo target practice every four days, have not done so since September 2007 due to shortage of ammunition.

Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal who was instrumental in forming the QRT said, "Had the QRT been used efficiently and trained regularly they could have tackled the terror situation, for which they were actually formed.


Ready to Strike: The QRT force of eight officers and 48 men was created in 2003. They are posted for a period of three to four years, till a cutoff age of 35 years.


Nevertheless, every policeman should get a chance to attend refresher courses, including target practice.

Earlier funds were an issue, but now that is not the case and optimum utilisation of the funds should be done for the betterment of the department to face any eventualities in future."

Wrong facts

However, a senior IPS officer claimed that the facts were wrong and that post 26/11 elite policemen did target practice regularly. But the officer did not elaborate on how often the QRT practiced.

The QRT force of eight officers and 48 men was created in 2003 and are posted for a period of three to four years, till a cutoff age of 35 years. They work in two shifts four officers and 24 men at any given time.

The committee was even informed that QRTs were not used for the purpose they were created for and were split into small groups.

On 26/11 last year, the QRT was deployed in four teams. Two officers and eight men at CST, two officers and nine men at Cama, six men at Taj and two officers and nine men at the Oberoi.

Two QRT men were escorting late ATS chief Hemant Karkare along with personnel from the SPU (Special Protection Unit).

Since Karkare's vehicle was stranded at Haj House due to traffic, the SPU officer and the constable along with two QRT men accompanied Karkare on foot.

They, however, did not accompany him when he finally left by the Qualis.

The QRT team who had made their way into the Taj could seldom do much to fight the terrorist and a reason sighted for their ineffective response was that they had no leader to direct them, a fact recorded by the committee.

Rs 126 Cr
The amount allocated to the Mumbai police to buy new arms and modern equipment after 26/11

Rs 38 Cr
The amount the police have spent on all-terrain vehicles and arms like tactical machine pistols

350
The number of bulletproof jackets the police will soon get

Did you know?
The government has procured 314 bulletproof helmets for Rs 25 lakh and 97 walkie-talkies for Rs 1.11 crore.

The Ram Pradhan Committee formed by the state government post 26/11, has found instances of how red tape held up many police modernisation plans as well as the purchase of arms and ammunition.

According to the report, DGP AN Roy had informed the committee that the government resolutions (GRs) approving the purchases under modernization program were usually issued in November / December each year after a 13-stage purchase procedure needed to be followed.

The DGP said he was concerned over whether arms and ammunition would be available for the state police.

The committee found several reasons for this situation.

The basic weapons for district police (including city police) for law and order duties used to be 410 muskets, while for SRPF it was 303 rifles, but the Indian ordinance factories have stopped making them.

The Draft Weapon Policy of changing this into 7.62 SLR for law and order situations, 5.56 Insas Rifles, AK-47 rifles, 9mm carbines and 7.62 SLRs for Naxal areas, terrorist operations etc, was drafted and submitted to the government and the government approved this in principle on June 30, 2008.

Meanwhile, the yearly requirement shot up with the induction of 33,000 posts in 2005 out of 55,000 created to partly fulfill the shortage of manpower.

Prices also shot up but due to shortage of funds only Rs 15 crore was sanctioned during the last five years against a demand of Rs 66.14 crore.

This has created a serious shortage of arms and ammunition for the Maharashtra police.

The DGP also expressed concern that the lack of target practice due to shortage of ammunition has created serious disabilities in the offensive capability of the police.

However the Home Department statement received on April 6, 2009 has said that a quantity of 1,00,000 AK-47 rounds was received on December 2, 2005 as against an indent of 2 lakh for 2005-06.

The same statement has said that a quantity of 1,65,810 was received on November 24, 2006 and July 04,2007 against a demand of 2 lakhs for 2006-07.

For 2008-09 a demand of 16,16,160 was made but only 38,195 were approved which was not received as on April 6, 2009.

The Committee is unable to reconcile the differences in the reports between DGP and HD and would urge quick resolution of this problem so that supply would reach the police units concerned.

The Committee was also informed by the DGP that Maharashtra police needs Rs. 65 crores worth of ammunition, in case each policeman has to fire a mandatory 40 rounds each year.

But for the last five years they are getting each year only Rs 3 crores.

The available ammunition is required to be allotted on priority to the Naxal affected areas, special commandos etc. Hence no ammunition for firing practice was available.

Meanwhile a senior IPS officer told MiD DAY that the Mumbai police recently procured 32,000 imported ammunition for M4 weapons and that they had sufficient ammunitions needed by the force and in case of shortage they write to the DGP office.

While the Ram Pradhan committee has slammed the government for its handling of the 26/11 attacks, special mention has to be made about the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) formed to fight terror-related activities.

The Ram Pradhan Committee has noted that the structure of the ATS and its command and control has created confusion.

It was created on July 8, 2004 with the one Inspector General of Police, two deputy inspector general (Additional Commissioners of Police), two superintendents of police, eight inspectors, eight APIs and some clerical staff.

According to government orders, one DIG was to look after the work in Mumbai city, while the other will be for the rest of Maharashtra.

It was stated that the ATS would be under the control of the DGP (Maharashtra). It was laid down that the IGP would report to the DGP through the Mumbai Commissioner.

The commissioner of State intelligence department would supervise the ATS work outside Mumbai.

It was further stated that DGP would exercise supervision over ATS through the Mumbai commissioner.

Confusion

The problem that arose was about who supervised work outside Mumbai at the DGP level.

D Sivanandan, then Commissioner, State Intelligence Division (SID) told the Committee that although the outside wing was supposed to report to him, an executive order was passed by a former DGP, to put this squad under the Additional DG (Law &Oorder), Maharashtra State.

The Committee found that this dual control of the ATS was not working well. DGP AN Roy told the committee that he had proposed to the Government to restructure the ATS under an Additional DGP and upgrade its technical and research capability.

Suggestion

Presently Quick response TeamRT and Assault Teams are under the City Wing of the ATS.

If these units are removed from the control of the Commissioner of Police, it would severely increase ability of immediate response to any future terrorist attacks.

Perhaps the alternative is to create such teams specifically for stationing outside Mumbai and place them at the head quarters of the cities with Commissioners of Police.

According to the committee, the command and control can be worked by the DGP.

What is most important is to equip, train and keep them on toes all time to respond to emergencies and not treat as decorative units, as was done in case of Mumbai.

Air borne attack

While Mumbai have experienced, water and land attacks, the Committee hopes that authorities by now are aware of the fact that terrorist organizations/ units are becoming increasingly sophisticated in deploying innovative means/ techniques which is evident after witnessing 9/11 and 26/11 attacks.

Committee has stated that we have witnessed sea-borne attack.

One should not overlook possibility of air-borne attacks on targets in the city in future.

With increasing use of helicopters by the government as well as non-official parties one may conceive a helicopter being taken over.

As the Aviation Security is with the Central authorities, it is suggested that this matter may be taken up for studies and necessary security measures worked out.

Force

R.H. Mendonca former Commissioner and D. Sivanandan had told the Committee that in the 1990s Special Motor Cycle borne commandos in buddy pairs were raised and trained to deal with under world crimes and terrorist strikes. However the system of commandos fell into disuse after a certain period.

On February 11, 2000, 100 flying squads of two commandos each, for all the Commissionarates in the State were formed. Mumbai was allotted 46 flying squads, that is 92 policemen with 40 motorcycles. On 31/3/2006 the C.P.

Mumbai re-fixed its strength as 75 policemen with 30 motorcycles who were trained for three months in Karate, handling of wireless sets, rescue of captives, handling of weapons like AK-47, SLR, Carbines, 9 mm pistols etc.

The Committee was informed that presently 58 commandos are working under Assistant Commissioner of Police, Armed Police, Marol.

Out of these commandos, 4 are deployed at the office of DGP, 6 at CP's Office, 12 at Haji Ali Dargha, 12 at Sidhivinayak temple while 2 commandos are engaged with sports activities.

Out of the remaining 22, only 10 to 15 are available at Marol for any emergency duty, considering leave, sickness etc.

The Committee did not find that this force was used at any place for countering the terrorist attack on 26/11 attacks.

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