Stating that the perception of threat was changing around the world, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday stressed on the need to adopt high-end technology in security and surveillance systems. Speaking at the 26/11 Stories of Strength event presented by The Indian Express and Facebook, Fadnavis said the importance of technology such as the CCTV surveillance network now live across the financial capital could not be understated.
“It is no more the case that human intervention can counter threat. It is technology which we need to leverage,” said Fadnavis. For better coastal security too, the CM stressed on technology. “There are more than 600 landing points that are unmanned. In spite of putting around 600 police stations or allocating security personnel 24×7, a human error can still occur. I think technology is the solution. We are putting in place thermal cameras to man our coastal security. All landing points in coastal states should have electronic surveillance,” said Fadnavis. Calling the 2008 terror strike an attack on the entire country, the CM said the incident had left deep wounds in the minds and hearts of Indians.
In an interaction with National Affairs Editor Praveen Swami, the CM said recommendations for round-the-clock surveillance made in the aftermath of the attack had not been implemented until recently. Now that the network is live, there have been good inputs from it, he said. Stating that coastal security is also improved now with joint drills being conducted with central agencies, he said the Sagar Kavach, which was initially a bi-annual drill, is now conducted every three months.”The basic problem was coordination. We have central agencies, paramilitary forces and state agencies. Now there is better coordination,” said Fadnavis, adding that proper Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were being followed.
On radicalisation of Muslim youths, Fadnavis admitted it was a challenge to bring young people who may fall prey to extremist organisations into the mainstream. “Mostly it (alienation of the young) is related to socio-economic backwardness,” he said, adding that the state is taking steps to integrate such youth in mainstream society. “Eight departments are told to have 42 actions to mainstream the youth who feel alienated or feel that they are socially or economically isolated. A lot of dialogue is taking place and religious leaders are helping us,” said the CM. He said that 27 youths who were planning to join the ISIS were successfully discouraged from doing so through this dialogue.
Appealing to the youths, he said, “Let’s come together and fight the socio-economic backwardness.” Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police Deven Bharti said at a panel discussion later that the terror strike was “a failure of imagination” for law enforcement agencies. “None of us had thought that there could be an attack from the seaside at multiple points,” said Bharti, adding that security forces around the world had not been prepared for this. “After the Mumbai attacks, the security forces around the world revised their SOPs to handle five or six attacks at one point of time.”
Kia Scherr, who lost her husband and daughter in the attack at the Oberoi Hotel, said she was still dealing with the loss but had learnt to forgive. Scherr said Mumbai had actually given her a new life. “I am an emotional survivor, not a physical survivor, but Mumbai gave me my life. I was reborn here,” said Scherr. Sourav Mishra, a journalist and artist who was shot by terrorists at Leopold Cafe on the day of the attacks, recounted how a hawker in Colaba Causeway helped him reach the hospital.
Rahul da Cunha, creative head of daCunha Communications Pvt Ltd, said that the precursor to 26/11 was December 1992. “(During) Babri Masjid (demolition), what the city went through prepared us for what was to come,” said da Cunha. Tony Sgro, Founder and CEO of EDVentures, said Facebook will soon launch a model that empowers youth to create social media campaigns to make India safer. The ‘Peer to Peer: Challenging Extremism’ model will help create a counter-narrative of extremism, intolerance and prejudice. “Who better than young people to create this counter-narrative,” said Tony. The model which was started as a pilot project in 13 universities in the US and in 10 other countries, now has enrolled 280 universities in 65 countries. “It will soon be launched in India,” said Tony.
At a time when social media is used by extremists to trap youngsters, students in universities will be rewarded $2,000 to create a campaign for a counter-narrative. Executive Director, The Express Group, Anant Goenka said that while every year the city marked 26/11 by mourning those who died in the attacks, it hadn’t recognised some of the inspiring stories that emerged from it. To the survivors, he said, “It is important we do this because it is your courage that defines us, it is your hope that renews ours and truth is that we still live in an age of terrorism. Even if we indulge in the cowardly ideology of a misguided youth foolish enough to believe that they can decide how we should die, they must know that they can never tell us how we should live. We will keep learning and we will keep growing. That’s the strength of our civil society.”
Executive Director, The Express Group, Anant Goenka said that while every year the city marked 26/11 by mourning those who died in the attacks, it hadn’t recognised some of the inspiring stories that emerged from it. To the survivors, he said, “It is important we do this because it is your courage that defines us, it is your hope that renews ours and truth is that we still live in an age of terrorism. Even if we indulge in the cowardly ideology of a misguided youth foolish enough to believe that they can decide how we should die, they must know that they can never tell us how we should live. We will keep learning and we will keep growing. That’s the strength of our civil society.”