Post-attack, Air Force on high alert

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 4 2008, 06:44am hrs
A day after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chalked out plans for enhancing internal security through a variety of measures, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been asked to be on vigil against any terror threat from air after the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack used a sea route to sneak into the city,

This followed an instruction from defence minister AK Antony given at a meeting on Wednesday, which was attended by defence secretary Vijay Singh and three services chiefs Admiral Sureesh Mehta, General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major.

According to defence ministry officials, The defence minister has reviewed the details of the preparedness against any possible terror threat from air.

The situation along the LoC (Line of Control dividing Kashmir) was also discussed, including measures to prevent infiltration of terrorists as the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is known to be an important area of recruitment and training of terrorist, the official added.

The top defence brass discussed plans for beefing up coastal security and hastening acquisition process for systems and platforms including coastal radars and interceptor boats. The minister has called for greater coordination among all agencies, both defence and internal security, in such a way so that intelligence inputs become actionable.

The meeting was called to review the security situation and the state of preparedness to face any terrorist threat. The meeting also discussed the plan for coastal security and acquisition of system and platform including coastal radar and interceptor boats, the official said.

Of particular concern expressed at the meeting was the intelligence warning that airports around the country could be targets of terrorists, forcing the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security to issue a red alert to secure all important airports, sources added.

According to sources, Antony was particularly unhappy over the lack of coordination among various agencies, both defence and intelligence, so that the inputs from the latter could become actionable.

The minister expressed his disappointment over the armed forces, particularly the Navy and the Coast Guard, not seeking specific details from intelligence agencies when they had warned about terror attacks through the sea route.

The gaps existed from both sides of the security apparatus, be it the defence forces or the intelligence agencies. So, both must seek clarifications on points, warnings raised by the other and ensure the inputs are actionable so as not to be caught sleeping when Mumbai-type attacks take place, officials said.

Similar assurances were given by Antony on the sea front too and his keenly discussing immediate acquisitions for coastal security indicated the serious intent in this regard,sources said.