Naval chief denies actionable input

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 4 2008, 04:44am hrs
Attributing the Mumbai terror attack to a systemic failure and lacunae in the countrys coastal security, chief of the Indian Navy Admiral Sureesh Mehta has said that they had no prior actionable intelligence inputs.

There has been no actionable input. Actionable input is when there is a point in time and at a particular place, said Mehta, who along with the Coast Guard has come under fire for the lapse that led to the terrorists landing on the shores of Mumbai despite advance intelligence inputs.

Addressing a press conference on the eve of the Navy day, the Naval chief showing his concern at the public outrage, stressed the need for assessing the situation adequately. It (public outrage) is a serious issue. The security lapse is a systemic failure and it has to be taken stock of, the chief added.

According to him the exchange of information is an ongoing and regular function. But information given should be actionable. When actionable input has come we have acted. The Coast Guard had deployed ships on the coast of Gujarat, said Mehta.

Stating that exchange of information was an operational function, the Navy chief called for effective coordination among the several agencies involved in intelligence gathering and security.

There are several agencies involved and coordination is important. What is important is the information available should be actionable. It should have some specifics to it, he stressed.

Mehta, who has earlier commanded the Coast Guard, pointed out, There are 1.5 lakh (150,000) registered fishing trawlers in India, of which over 50,000 are in Gujarat and Maharashtra. If you take even one-third in Mumbai it comes to nearly 5,000 trawlers, which is a fairly large number.

There is a difference between Indian and Pakistan trawlers but if an Indian trawler is being used, as in this case, then we are helpless. This is a lacunae and we have to plug it, Mehta admitted.

In an effort to plug the wide gaps, the naval chief has suggested the fixing of transponders and employing electronic means for better surveillance of the shoreline.

So far, only 58 of the 73 approved coastal police stations have been made operational, a little more than the halfway mark.

Talking about navy's lack of prosecution powers, he said: Indian Navy does not have a right to prosecution. It can only be done by the Coast Guard. Even if we catch somebody we have to hand him over to the Coast Guard. If the law is amended it will be beneficial, he added.

To a query about the sinking of a pirate craft in the Gulf of Aden by the stealth frigate INS Tabar last month, Mehta said that it was not wrong and it was well within law.