Ten years later, city to finally get anti-terror commando units

Preparing for attack: Military personnel in action during the 26/11 attacks, after which the Ram Pradhan Committee had recommended the setting up of Quick Response Teams   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

A decade after the terror strike on Mumbai, the Maharashtra government has completed the formalities to set up 26 Quick Response Teams (QRTs) to assist the Mumbai Police in tackling future attacks. The State Home Department last week issued orders to constitute the remaining 11 teams, while requisitioning 536 additional commandos and a separate office for the teams.

The Ram Pradhan Committee, which had looked into the police’s response to the 2008 attacks, had recommended the setting up of 26 QRTs teams with 1,378 commandos. However, in the years since November 26, 2008, only 15 had been set up with a strength of 842, officials said.

‘No delay from us’

“It is a process and we do not think there has been a delay from our side. We wanted to aggregate them under a single deputy commissioner of police (DCP), and proper funding facilities provided. The file was sent to the Chief Minister and approved last week,” said a senior official of the Maharashtra Home Department.

The orders issued by the Home Department mention the bureaucracy in the Mumbai Police Commissioner’s office creating hurdles for existing QRTs.

“To ensure the QRTs function independently, it is important they operate separately from a new office. Therefore, we propose that the government construct a new office for QRTs,” said the latest order. The earlier QRTs were reporting to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad but were shifted to the Police Commissioner’s office recently.

The Pradhan Committee had found that the Mumbai Police was incapable of thwarting major terror strikes in its own and needed assistance of a highly-skilled, trained force to deal with hostage situations. Of the total number of units, six were set up in 2009, while the government delayed the formation of Force One, another elite commando unit.

The QRTs were given an armoured vehicle and world-class weaponry, and its commandos handpicked from the police force.

The latest orders also allow the appointment of nine administrative staff to run the new QRT headquarters, which will come up one the government allots land, officials said. The DCP, QRT has been appointed as the department head for the new headquarters.

“We wanted him to have more responsibility since so far he has not had much work. Now with all the units formed, his job has been defined,” said a senior official.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 7:14:07 AM |

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