The Union government had issued orders for releasing 2,000 bullet-proof jackets for Maharashtra and asked the State to make security infrastructure its primary agenda, State Home Minister R. R. Patil told the Legislative Council on Wednesday.
In a communication, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram directed the State that matters related to the procurement of bullet-proof jackets and weapons be “taken on top priority,” Mr. Patil said.
As for the progress of the probe into the July 13 triple blasts, Mr. Patil said the Central agencies had indicated that it was heading in the right direction.
“The police need to be given a reasonable amount of time to investigate. The Anti-Terrorism Squad will definitely be successful in solving the case,” he said.
Mr. Patil asserted that the law enforcement machinery was capable of averting terror strikes. “The blasts could have been averted had good intelligence been available.”
Responding to questions on Pakistani gunman Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, he said the matter was not in the hands of the State government. He, however, underlined need for a “rethink” on the part of the Centre on systemic delays in the process.
The State government would appeal to the Supreme Court for sentencing Kasab, he said.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan would meet Ram Pradhan, who headed a committee on the police response to the 26/11 attacks and made recommendations.
The government came under heavy criticism after Mr. Pradhan said on television that he was not called for any meeting after the submission of the report.
“Although there is no precedent to meet the commission head after the report has been submitted, we have heeded Mr. Pradhan’s concern,” Mr. Patil said.
Given the thick density of population in Mumbai that limited the scale of security checks, Mr. Patil said the government would appeal to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to remove encroachments in the city.
“We will provide as much police force to the corporation as required to clear Mumbai’s streets of encroachments by hawkers. The issue is also related to the livelihoods of people. There should also be a check on encroachment by builders too,” Mr. Patil said.
A dispute-free scheme for Mumbai through community participation was also on the cards. Citizens have to play the role of plain-clothed police to identify suspicious activity.
In the light of certain “shortcomings” in the security set-up for the Railways, the government would be meeting the Railways Minister to urge stringency.
The State government would also appeal to the Centre for a speedy decision on regulating the use of ammonium nitrate, a material which is freely available and used in bomb-making.
Mr. Patil cautioned against demoralising the force in the rush to criticise. The Maharashtra police had, since 2001, arrested 485 persons connected to various terror outfits.
Warning against attempts to gain political mileage out of a tragedy, he underscored need to formulate a code for political leaders in the aftermath of a terror strike. The media too needed to be committed to balanced reportage, since the experience of 26/11 showed that handlers were closely following live TV reportage to give instructions to the attackers. Hindu