Meena Menon

Commends Mumbai police for acting with speed and courage

MUMBAI: A high-power committee appointed to examine any official lapses in responding to the November 26, 2008 terror strike here has concluded that Maharashtra had not received any direct intelligence information prior to the attack. The report, submitted to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Wednesday, a day and six months after the attacks, lauds the Mumbai police.

Mr. Chavan announced the appointment of the two-member committee on December 30, 2008. Headed by R.D. Pradhan, former Union Home Secretary, it also comprised V. Balachandran, former Special Secretary, Research and Analysis Wing. The initial deadline of March 20 was extended by a month. The committee was asked to look into all aspects of the terror strike.

Speaking to the press, Mr. Pradhan declined to elaborate but gave some pointers to its contents. He admitted that there were intelligence lapses: even Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram had said so in Mumbai. But the government had not got any direct advance information from the Centre regarding an attack. Some information was sent and was acted upon.

The committee found that the police force handled the situation with speed and courage. Many officers laid down their lives or were injured. “We’ve commended the police officers for their role,” he said. “No police agency can deal with a war-like situation.”

Clarifying that this was not a judicial commission’s proceedings but only an administrative inquiry, Mr. Pradhan said only officials were consulted. Others made representations but were not called before it as that would have delayed the work. As it is, the report had taken three months. He said the government had provided all the necessary information. The panel had looked at police control room log-sheets and other records.

He said the government should be prepared for attacks of this kind and set up efficient institutions to train for commando and quick response team action: some steps in this direction have been initiated.

Mr. Chavan had said action would be taken within a time-frame if any officials were found guilty of lapses in the report. During the winter session of the Assembly in Nagpur, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party had stalled the House for days, accusing the State police and officials of grave lapses during the terror strike.

Leader of the Opposition Ramdas Kadam had demanded the resignation of top officers and the then Additional Chief Secretary, Chitkala Zutshi, who was at the Taj Mahal Hotel during the strike. Mr. Chavan had assured the Opposition that he would order an inquiry into the performance of the three officials — the Director-General of Police, the Police Commissioner and Ms. Zutshi. .