Four years ago, 10 terrorists entered the city by boat unnoticed and proceeded to lay siege to it by targeting key locations. While coastal security has been raised significantly since the incident, police have also approached a group of people more familiar with Mumbai’s coastline — its fishermen.
To keep a constant watch on the coast, fishermen have been provided around 50 phones for them to report any suspicious activity. There are around 70 to 80 associations of the Maharashtra Fisherman Society, among which 25 are active. They have been provided with two phones per committee, which are carried by fishermen going out at sea so they can collect details regarding security checks at sea.
Kiran Koli, Mumbai district president of the Fishermen Society, said, “Every society has been given two phones and the special branch has asked us to provide them with the details of security checks. If we find anything out of the ordinary, we immediately call them. Also there are meetings between fishermen and the coastal security force every six months to present our views regarding security.”
An officer from the special branch said, “We have been in regular touch with the fishermen, so that we can take necessary precautions. The phones have been provided to them so that they can call us any time. They are at sea for most of the time and can help us take security measures to avoid similar attacks in the future.
Earlier, fishermen were given biometric cards, with card readers provided to security agencies. The biometric cards act as electronic identification of individual fishermen and carry details like a unique identity number, fingerprints, digital signature and photograph. This was done to identify the fishermen and see that unidentified people do not join the fishermen’s body and cause a security threat.