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Page last updated at 20:00 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 21:00 UK

Mumbai gets top anti-terror force

By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Mumbai

NSG personnel undergoing training
The National Security Guard is India's elite security force

Seven months after terror attacks in the the Indian city of Mumbai, the city has been allocated its first dedicated elite security force headquarters.

The Indian home minister inaugurated the National Security Guard (NSG) hub in the city on Tuesday.

The move is one of several measures planned by the central and state governments following the attacks.

More than 170 people died in various attacks across Mumbai on 26 November, including nine gunmen.

Intelligence

The NSG was set up in 1984 and has served in several counter-terrorism operations.

In the November attacks its commandos fought militants at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the Oberoi Trident hotel and at the Jewish centre in Nariman House. Two NSG commandos lost their lives in the operation.

Indian commando in Mumbai
Security forces killed all but one of the suspected gunmen in Mumbai

Apart from Mumbai, another three NSG hubs, in Madras, Calcutta and Hyderabad, will be operational from 1 July.

The police were criticised for a lack of co-ordination during the attacks and accused of having ignored the intelligence reports given to them before they took place.

"We have kept our promise to the people… the NSG is an elite force, specially recruited and specially trained. Its principal mandates are counter-terrorism and anti-hijacking," said Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram.

NSG Director General NPS Aulakh said that the "devastating incidents" had "proved beyond doubt that terrorism is no longer confined to particular states or areas".

He added: "Post 26/11, it was felt necessary to relocate NSG at more locations in the country so as to reduce the reaction time, and make the force more effective in dealing with such mindless acts of terror."

The new hub is set up on a 23-acre plot in a western suburb of Mumbai, where more than 200 NSG personnel will be trained. They will move into this campus from November 2009. Presently they are on the adjacent Mumbai police campus.

This force will cover western India and will be flown to any area where help is required, Mr Chidambaram said.

He said that in times of emergency, the state police would remain the first institution to respond, and that the NSG would only take action following a call from the state police authorities.

Overall 1,080 people have been recruited to work in the four hubs, Mr Chidambaram said.

The government says that Mumbai may also get helicopters for police use similar to those used in New York and London. The home minister said a coastal security scheme was also under way.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra police have formed "Force One", a 300-member special task force which will receive training from the NSG.

More task force hubs are proposed in Jodhpur and Guwahati, so as to ensure that the whole country is covered.



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