7:20pm, 15th June, 2016
After a long seven and a half year, long after even Kasab is hanged, this revelation about the Mumbai Terror attacks of 26/11 is shocking to the core.
On November 26, 2008, around 9 pm, ten Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists attacked Mumbai and terrorized the city for next four days. This terrorist attack killed 160 and injured at least 300 men, women, and children. After seven and a half years, it has come to light that on the same day, top officers of the Internal Security at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were in Pakistan for the home secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan.
The meeting was scheduled on November 25, 2008, but it was extended to November 26, 2008, by Pakistan and just after the meeting, senior officials were convinced by the hosts to extend their stay by a day at the hillside resort of Murree. Murree is a hill station near Islamabad and an eminent Tourist Destination.
The officials who went for the retreat included the then Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta, Additional Secretary (Border Management) Anwar Ahsan Ahmad, joint secretary (internal security) Diptivilasa, along with three other officials of internal security. These officials were responsible for taking counterterrorism action.
“The meeting was scheduled on November 25, 2008, but it was extended to November 26, 2008, by Pakistan and just after the meeting, senior officials were convinced by the hosts to extend their stay by a day at the hillside resort of Murree.The officials who went for the retreat included the then Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta.”
It has also been reported that Murree being on a hill is a no or less signal zone and therefore, the suspicious extension of MHA official’s stay in Pakistan by a day is seen as a strategy or ploy of Pakistan to delay the counterterrorism action against the 26/11 terror attacks.
The then under-secretary (internal security) R V S Mani in an interview with news agency ANI told, “Those days, talks were taking place alternately in India and Pakistan. In 2006, it took place in Pakistan; in 2007, it took place in India at Le Meridien hotel in Delhi; while in 2008, it was to be held in Pakistan. November 25 was decided for the talks, following which an approach paper was prepared and cleared. Our delegation left on November 24. I was in Lucknow on November 25 for some court case. I remember that when I returned on November 26th, I came to know that their visit was extended by a day, and then what happened in the night of 26th we all know,” said Mani.
“Holding them back in Islamabad for a day was a ploy of Pakistan. Pakistan knew the terrorists’ design, despite that it insisted them to stay there for a day (by delaying talks). Thus, there was no negligence on the part of officers. The decision about their visit and the approach paper were cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security. The RTI reply shown by some channels that there was ‘negligence’ is not true. As when the delegation reached there, the date for talk was extended from November 25 to 26. I was not part of that delegation, hence only a delegation member could say what had happened there (in Islamabad),” he said.
When asked if MHA officials tried to contact them in Pakistan after the attack, Mani said, “Deputy commandant-level officers of paramilitary such as BSF, ITBP and CRPF were in the control room. They kept on trying to contact the Indian counterterrorism officers in Islamabad but were unable to reach them. It could be a Pakistan’s ploy to make them stay at a place where there is mobile network issue. When they finally succeeded, I can’t say. Later JS (police) [Joint Secretary-police] decided to deploy National Security Guards (NSG). Other JSes also extended their support.”
When asked about the then Home Minister and the delay in the decision-making in the absence of top Internal Security officers, Mani said, “Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s role was limited, though he flew to Mumbai. There are standard operative procedures in place at the MHA, which the officers have to ensure. A very solid system is in place, but implementation of the system was required a leadership, which was missing (officers were stuck in Pakistan).”
However, the Former Home Secretary denied the reports on top MHA officials partying in Pakistan’s Murree and said it’s nothing but a mere speculation. In an interview with news agency ANI, he said, “It is inaccurate that there was no signal in Murree. I got a call from India, who informed me about the attacks and told me to switch on the television, As soon as we saw the terror strike, we spoke to all concerned persons, who were supposed to be spoken. Nobody knew that 26/11 would happen,” he added.
“I was in touch with everyone when the disaster struck; what are we trying to prove going into speculation eight years later? I don’t know what purpose it will serve to ask eight years later if we were deliberately sent to Murree,”
Gupta also pointed out,
“All kind of things were said, like NSG’s late arrival but how would that have changed with my physical presence?”
Source : ANI, DNA and TOI.
Image Source: http.blogs.wsj.com, PTI