December 03, 2008

Outgunned Mumbai police hampered by WWI Weapons

If you think about it the fact that so few men were able to hold a city hostage for so long is ridiculous. This is just unacceptable:

Indian police who bore the brunt of last week’s attacks on Mumbai had defective bulletproof vests, First World War-era firearms and insufficient weapons training, police sources have told The Times.
Many wore plastic helmets and body protectors designed for sticks and stones, rather than bullets, as they fought highly trained militants armed with AK47 rifles, pistols, grenades and explosives.

The contrast between them was vividly illustrated yesterday by CCTV footage of two militants attacking Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus, Mumbai’s main railway station, last Wednesday.

It shows the gunmen spraying automatic fire while two constables cower behind pillars, one armed with a .303 rifle similar to the Lee-Enfield weapons used by British troops in the First World War.

Similar scenes were played out at other targets in the first seven hours of the attacks, in which 16 policemen died, including three of India’s top officers.

“That’s 16 too many,” Maxwell Pereira, a former joint commissioner of Delhi police, said. “These casualties could have been prevented if they’d been properly equipped.” The abysmal state of police equipment helps to explain how ten gunmen managed to paralyse a metropolis of 18 million people for more than 60 hours.

It also illustrates how ill-prepared India’s 2.2 million-strong police force is to tackle another such attack.

“We’d react exactly the same way tomorrow,” Ajay Sahni, of the Institute for Conflict Management, said.

He described India as one of the “least policed” places in the world, with 126 officers per 100,000 people, compared with 225-550 per 100,000 in most Western countries."

I suppose that it helps to explain somewhat why a photographer excoriated the police and said that he wished that he had a gun. Not that it excuses cowardly behavior. If you are going to work in law enforcement you have to be prepared to deal with dangerous situations.

"But what angered Mr D'Souza almost as much were the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot back. "There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything," he said. "At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, 'Shoot them, they're sitting ducks!' but they just didn't shoot back."
Thankfully heroes appeared on the scene. The story that I know best is of the nanny who rescued Moshe Holtzberg. She is yet another example of how ordinary people can rise to the occasion.

As the siege at the Chabad House began, Samuel heard the commotion, locked the doors and hid in a room.

"She heard Mrs. Holtzberg -- Rivka -- screaming, 'Sandra, Sandra, help, Sandra,' " said Robert Katz, executive vice president of the Israeli organization Migdal Ohr.

The gunmen reportedly went door-to-door, searching for targets. Samuel unlocked her door and dared the gunmen to stop her, according to Katz.

She then ran upstairs to find the Holtzbergs shot dead, lying on the ground with their son crying over them.

"She literally picked him up and made a dash for the exits, almost daring the terrorists to shoot a woman carrying a baby," Katz said.
If you read the article you'll notice that recovering the bodies of Moshe's parents was hampered because the terrorists had booby-trapped them.

"The return of the bodies was delayed until authorities removed hand grenades from the bodies, left there by the attackers, Katz said."

There will be a response to their murder. I hope that it is swift and severe. Ironically it is reported that Rabbi Holtzberg was reading an anti-terrorist handbook.

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