A multi-agency police force apart from the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard will undertake a major exercise along the 320-km Karnataka coastline from 6 a.m. on Monday to study the preparedness of the security forces in combating terrorism.

This is the first systematic exercise being undertaken by the various wings of the Union Home and Defence ministries along with the State police to prevent a repeat of what happened in Mumbai in November 2008. The State police have undertaken exercises on a limited scale over the past two years and the present exercise is based on directions from the Centre. There are nine States and two Union Territories in the country, with a coastline, and all of them have been asked to carry out tests on preparedness in warding off terror attacks.

Top officials of the State Government who participated in a meeting prior to the commencement of the exercise toldThe Hinduthat it was a joint exercise of the State and the Union governments to evaluate their preparedness in dealing with potential infiltration bids along the State's coast. The 36-hour drill will conclude at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and has been called ‘Sagar Kavach'.

The sources said a group of 12 men, comprising police personnel and some fishermen (“terrorists” in the present exercise) were, early on Sunday, been dropped around 25 nautical miles from the Mangalore coast. They have been provided with a trawler, navigation and communication equipment etc. They have also been provided with food to last two days. Prior to being dropped they were told to land anywhere along the State's coastline from Karwar to Mangalore.

The group of men involved in the attack are called “Red Force” while the multi-agency police and defence force is called “Blue Force”.

The mock drill is being carried out under the overall supervision of Bhaskar Rao, Inspector-General of Police, Internal Security. Nearly a 1,000 police personnel, including men from the Intelligence Bureau and State Intelligence will be at work. This apart, two Dornier aircraft of the Navy from Goa and helicopters from the naval base at Karwar will be in operation.

It is said that the group of police and fishermen has been provided with a list of strategic places along the Karnataka coast which they can “attack” and this includes the Mangalore and Karwar ports, Mangalore Refineries, several important hotels, places of tourism, places of worship etc.

Similarly, the police have been directed to garner intelligence at the grassroots.

A senior official of the Home Ministry said: “the idea behind the drill is ensure that we are prepared for different situations and also check on the coordination among the various security agencies. It should be noted that an attack also calls for an immediate assessment of the situation and quick mobilisation of resources.”

A feedback session will be organised to assess the overall preparedness and the ways and means of overcoming the lapses.

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