What Happened in Bombay

I don’t think this is the whole story by any means, but it no doubt helps to explain how ten gunmen could terrorize a city of 19 million:

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.

You can see that footage, along with other scenes shot by security cameras at the railroad station, at the linked site.

[Ajay Sahni of the Institute for Conflict Management] 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.

Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, has one of India’s better police forces, but even it is woefully ill-equipped because of a centralised and highly corrupt procurement system.

It should be noted that this article was based on police-department leaks which were obviously self-serving–which doesn’t, of course, mean that they are wrong. Still, it takes more than poor equipment to explain why dozens if not hundreds of policemen were unable or unwilling to take effective action against terrorists who fought in pairs.

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