Surprised?

Our coastal areas are coming under increased threat from terrorist groups, which have decided to use the sea route to infiltrate into India. They also plan to induct arms and ammunition through the sea routes" that is Shivraj Patil addressing the directors general and inspectors general of police in November 2006. "We understand they (the terrorists) have been collecting information regarding location of various refineries on or near the Indian coastline... Some Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives are also being trained specifically for sabotage of oil installations. There are plans to occupy some uninhabited islands off the country's coastline to use them as bases for launching operations on the Indian coast..."

That was the ever-alert home minister in November 2006. The minister of defence has been no less alert. On March 9 2007, he was asked in the Lok Sabha, whether "the intelligence agencies have warned about the possibility of terrorists trying to infiltrate through the sea route or trying to target our offshore installations?" He answered, "Yes, sir. There are reports about terrorists of various tanzeems being imparted training and likelihood of their infiltration through sea routes..." He was asked whether "maritime terrorism, gun-running, drug-trafficking and piracy are major threats that India is facing from the sea borders of the country?" His answer? "Yes, sir."

On May 9 2007, the home minister was asked in the Rajya Sabha, whether "it is a fact that there are strong apprehensions of terrorist threats to the country through the sea route?" "As per available reports," he answered, "Pak based terrorist groups, particularly LeT, have been exploring possibilities of induction of manpower and terrorist hardware through the sea route..." On December 8, 2007, the National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan, was educating the world at the 4th Regional Security Summit organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Manama Dialogue. "According to our intelligence reports," he confided to the assembled sheikhs and experts, "there are now certain new schools that are now being established on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which now specialise in the training of an international brigade of terrorists to fight in many climes. According to our information, recruits from 14 to 15 countries have been identified as amongst the trainees there... Training has become extremely rigorous it is almost frightening in nature... Studies are being carried out about important targets, with regard to vulnerability, accessibility, poor security, absence of proper counter-terrorism measures, etc. The sea route, in particular, is becoming the chosen route for carrying out many attacks, even on land. References to this are to be found replete in current terrorist literature." "Given India's experience in dealing with terrorism," he added, "I would like to therefore sound a note of warning, that there is no scope for complacency..."

... contd.

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