The Telegraph
Friday , March 21 , 2014
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Cong targets Modi on coastal security

Narendra Modi

New Delhi, March 20: The Congress today alleged that Narendra Modi had deliberately compromised with national security along Gujarat’s coastline close to the Pakistan border, mounting a rare offensive on national security that the BJP considers its strongest plank.

“Do you want terrorists to come to India and attack people to strengthen your vote-bank?” Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil told a media conference, aiming the question at Modi.

This is a grave charge and Gohil said the party would call on Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde tomorrow to lodge a formal complaint.

Suggesting that it has done some homework, the Congress cited specific figures in support of its case and said the BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister had not responded yet to a letter seeking clarifications on the subject. Absence of specifics has been a persistent allegation levelled against Modi by his critics.

Recalling that the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which a boat from Gujarat’s Porbandar had been used, the Congress spokesperson said the Centre had drawn up a coastal security scheme in 2005. The state government was also given funds to prevent the passage of Pakistani terrorists but the Gujarat administration did little till 2014, he said.

Gohil said he did not want to raise this sensitive matter of national security publicly and hence he wrote to the chief minister, setting a timeframe for response. But as the chief minister did not reply, he felt compelled to hold a media conference and release the documents.

The state government is required to look after the security of coastal areas up to 12 nautical miles in the sea.

Gohil said: “Gujarat was given funds in 2006 to set up 10 coastal police stations, 25 coastal check posts and 46 coastal outposts. Till today, only 21 check posts have been made and none is yet operational. Only 29 outposts were made and only 14 are operational. Funds for coastal police stations were diverted for Ahmedabad and Banaskantha police stations. Thirty ultra-modern interceptor boats with night vision facilities were given but they are lying idle.”

He added: “Kutch has a coastline of 238km and there is only one police station. As per the norm, every coastal patrol boat should operate for 1,800 hours every year but the shortfall is between 78 to 98 per cent (all figures from a CAG report). One interceptor boat at Somnath is lying in disuse for 10 months. In the anti-terrorist squad, vacancy ranges from eight to 100 per cent.”

Gohil lamented that the chief minister did not respond to his letter in which all these issues were raised and now he should tell the truth to the nation.

He also ridiculed the BJP that today talked of threat to their leaders and sought security from the government. He said the BJP should first answer why coastal security has been compromised with despite the terrible experience the country had with the Mumbai attack.