India Upgrades Coastal Security to Face Sea Tiger (LTTE) Threats
India is planning to replace and upgrade its coastal security scheme with stricter measures to prevent infiltration by Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Sea Tigers. India’s security authorities have urged the Government to revamp coastal security mechanisms in the wake of the escalation of fighting between Security Forces and the LTTE as fleeing Tigers could be trying to enter India by sea and its sympathizers could be attempting to smuggle weapons to the Sri Lanka’s North.
Tamil Nadu Police have made a series of arrests of LTTE suspects, both Indian and Sri Lankan, recently.
Terrorists have been using gaps in India’s coastline that connect it to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Maldives, all of which have seen rising terrorist activities. India’s maritime boundaries have also become a haven for insurgents to infiltrate and smuggle in arms and explosives, the defense sources said.
India’s 4,350-mile coastline is spread over 11 states. Its maritime boundaries have been prone to illegal cross-border activities, including smuggling of explosives and infiltration by terrorists.
The Federal Interior Ministry has, following the recommendation of Cabinet Committee on Security, decided to review coastal security and put implement a comprehensive and more strict scheme to prevent illegal cross-border activities, including infiltration by terrorists, they added.
The decision to upgrade security has been taken at a recent meeting of top-level ministry officials presided over by Interior Secretary Madhukar Gupta.
“The Government should give main thrust to specialised maritime police stations. These would deal specially with the maritime offenses,” said A.B. Mahapatra, executive director of the Centre for Asian Strategic Studies told news agencies.
The Federal Interior Ministry has helped coastal states to set up 73 coastal police stations, 97 check posts, 58 outposts and 30 barracks.
The coastal police stations will be equipped with 204 boats, 149 jeeps, 312 motorcycles for increasing mobility of the police personnel on the coasts and coastal waters once the comprehensive review is completed.
The CCS, which undertook an initial review of the scheme, asked the Interior Ministry to take measures to strengthen joint coastal patrolling off the coasts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, as intelligence agencies have voiced security concerns.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted the need for bolstering maritime security, adding the Federal Government has been paying greater attention to this issue.
“I do believe that in the past, we have neglected our maritime economy, as well as our maritime security,” he said. “Our Government has been paying greater attention to both these.”
“We have increased investment in our coast guard and the Indian Navy. We are proud of our Navy. It is one of the best navies in the world and today offers maritime security in the waters around our subcontinent,” he said.
The Indian Navy and Army are engaged in military exercises with various countries in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.
“Navies of the world are reaching out to engage the Indian navy and work with us to ensure the security of sea-lanes of communication,” Singh said.
India has signed an agreement with the Royal Navy of Thailand for joint patrolling to protect the maritime areas in the two countries.