Accessibility links

Indian Maritime Forces Rebuff Criticism in Wake of Mumbai Attack

India's maritime forces are defending themselves in wake of criticism they could have prevented the terror attack on Mumbai, which left about 175 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in New Delhi reports on the response from the Indian navy and coast guard.

India's maritime forces are finding themselves on the defensive following the Mumbai terror attack.

India's naval chief of staff is acknowledging "public outrage" for perceived security lapses after 10 to 15 terrorists came ashore along the coast of the country's commercial capital.

Admiral points to intelligence failure

Admiral Suresh Mehta acknowledges a "systemic failure" by the forces charged with protecting the coast, but says the navy and coast guard received no specific intelligence they could act upon.

"The information available should be actionable. It should have some specifics to it. Whatever actionable have come our way we have always taken action promptly," he said.

Admiral Mehta, who formerly commanded the India coast guard also says Indian vessels were patrolling the Arabian Sea off the state between Pakistan and Mumbai.

"The coast guard had deployed a large number of units on the Gujarat coast. There were special units which were over there. Naval ships are also operating off the Gujarat coast," he added.

Fishermen expressed concern about militants

India media reports quote fishermen from Gujarat as saying they had repeatedly expressed concern to the government - even writing to the prime minister - about the likelihood of militants from Pakistan capturing their boats to infiltrate India.

Indian investigators say the terrorists apparently hijacked a Gujarati fishing trawler at sea to get to the Mumbai coast.

Maritime security experts contend that India has too few vessels and personnel to patrol the country's 7,500 kilometers of coastline and too many agencies operating on Indian waters, 23 in all, to allow effective coordination.