With terrorists adapting to the strategy of Lone Wolf Attack method all around the world, the Mumbai police have been preparing to counter if Mumbai is under attack.
Five unmarked bullet proof vehicles, each carrying fully armed commandos, have been deployed at as many strategic points across south Mumbai. A lone wolf terrorist is the one who gets indoctrinated by an external group (through the Internet or other sources) or self-radicalised, and carries out an act in favour of that group. Such a terrorist easily bypasses intelligence surveillance because he prepares and executes attacks alone.
The unpredictability associated with such strikes renders the city police’s counter-terrorism mechanism post 26/11 redundant.
According to sources, “The Special Forces raised in the aftermath of 26/11 terror strike have been trained to deal with these kind of situations — engaging groups [big or small] in a gun battle. However, lone wolf attacks require high alacrity response to stop and neutralise the subject before he can maximise casualty,” a highly placed source in the city police said, adding, “When the threat is not visible, we have to wait in camouflage.”
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Deven Bharati said, “We are preparing ourselves for any challenge.” Meanwhile, sources said the decision to fortify south Mumbai was taken keeping in mind that the area houses a string of vital installations, crowded business districts, railway terminals, popular tourist spots and sea fronts, some of which have repeatedly been targeted by terrorists in the past.
Everyday an average 3-4 lakh commuters converge in the 6 sqkm area between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Crawford Market, Churchgate, Mantralaya and Gateway of India during peak hours. “Experience shows that lone wolf attackers select crowded places to maximise damage,” sources said.
To begin with the new operating procedure, small vehicles (Mahindra Boleros) were chosen (over bulky vans carrying Force One or QRT commandos) for their ability to steer into narrow lanes or negotiate in reverse traffic. The vehicles carry no police sticker, signs or dome lights in order to camouflage their identity. Most importantly, the vehicles have been made bullet proof for the purpose of ramming those into the armed attacker in emergency situation.
The jeeps have been stationed 1-1.5 km apart from each other so as to minimise response time anywhere in south Mumbai, sources said adding that the commandos in the vehicle are a mixture of QRT personnel and sleuths drawn from the anti-terror cell (ATC) of local police stations, who are equally trained in armed combat, sources said.
The line of command for the strike units, which otherwise rests with the Regional Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region), has been bi-furcated and the Zonal Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) have been authorized to receive messages and issue instructions, sources said.