Are Mumbai's police stations terrorist-proof?

In the wake of yesterday’s terrorist attack in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, wherein armed terrorists seized control of a local police complex, mid-day visited a few police stations across Mumbai to check their preparedness, and even sought opinions from retired top cops about how to secure police stations from such attacks 

In July 2014, intelligence agencies issued an alert to all police stations across the state to take extra precaution to keep their police stations and surrounding areas clear after a low intensity blast occurred inside the parking lot located outside Faraskhana police station, Pune.

Marine Drive police station
Marine Drive police station

A year later, police sources claimed that while the superiors initially took keen interest in securing police stations by deploying two constables in 12-hour shifts to keep an eye on the activity around the police stations, the enthusiasm waned with passing time.

Colaba police station
Colaba police station

A high-ranking officer, requesting anonymity, said, “After we received the input, two constables were deployed to secure the police station. These officers worked in two shifts. As there was no further development on the alerts issued, the security was called off.”

Borivli police station
Borivli police station. Pics/Nimesh Dave, Shadab Khan

Commenting on the issue, Mumbai police spokesperson DCP (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni said, “We still have constables deployed at all the police stations across Mumbai. However, after the Punjab attack, we have taken extra precautions in securing our police stations by deploying extra staff.”

He even claimed that all the sensitive locations across Mumbai have been secured.

“There are around 200 sensitive locations in the city and after yesterday’s (Punjab) attack, major cities like Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, among others, have been put on high alert. All the sensitive locations in the city have been secured by deploying extra police personnel and increasing security checkpoints,” Kulkarni added.

be alert, say top cops

Speaking to mid-day, a few of the retired top-cops alleged that the miniscule budget and manpower crunch were the biggest hurdles before the department, forcing it to limit its response to intelligence inputs.

Former police top cop Y C Pawar said, “Budgets is the main issue. In addition, we lack adequate manpower to act on every intelligence alert. I feel that if every police officer pays attention to the happenings within his jurisdiction, then problems like these can be dealt with more effectively.”  

Retired police commissioner Julio Ribeiro, who also served as Director General of Punjab police during the state’s worst years of terrorism, claimed that intelligence alerts keep coming in and one of the better ways of dealing with them was to have additional manpower handy.

“Alertness should be followed like a religion, by the cops and general public. If citizens are alert enough, there is no need to waste manpower,” said former police commissioner Satyapal Singh, who is now a BJP MP from Baghpath, UP.

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