Ingress of Pakistan-based boat on New Year eve
The Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), and the State police are on a heightened vigil along Kerala’s 570-km coastline following the suspicious ingress of a Pakistan-based fishing boat into Indian territorial waters, off the coast off Mumbai on New Year’s Eve.
The incident, which evoked traumatic memories of the 2008 seaborne terrorist attack in Mumbai, has prompted security agencies to activate their ‘mainland and maritime assets on the Western seaboard.’
In Kerala, the Sagar Prahari Bal, a special force trained in maritime military operations and equipped with fast-interceptor gunboats capable of operating in littoral waters, was on alert at the Naval base in Kochi, one of the four anti-terrorist joint operations centres in the country, for the past four consecutive days.
Security has also been upped at the LNG terminal, Special Economic Zone, and oil refineries in Kochi and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and Technopark campus in Thiruvananthapuram. These facilities which lie close to the sea have been deemed ‘all-time high-value targets for terrorists.’ Coastal vigilance committees, comprising seagoing fishermen and shore dwellers, have been alerted. Officials said 34 more coastal radar stations would be set up along the Western coast to enhance the country’s ‘maritime situational awareness to better plan for a fast response in the event of a terrorist ingress through sea.’
They said identifying every Indian fishing boat putting out to sea and plotting their course and position, with the help of onboard transponders, on a digital map of the country’s seaboard, mainly to single out and identify ‘alien craft,’ was perhaps the most daunting task in ensuring the nation’s maritime security.