There was no delay in dispatch of troops: NSG chief (Interview)

December 26th, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Shivraj PatilNew Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS) Exactly a month after the terror attack, National Security Guard (NSG) chief J.K. Dutt says there was no slackness in the dispatch of the elite commandos to Mumbai and it was unfair to blame then home minister Shivraj Patil for any delay “when actually there was no delay”.”There was no delay in NSG arrival from Delhi to Mumbai. Our men assembled within minutes we were tasked to perform operations in Mumbai following the request from the state government,” Dutt told IANS in an interview, recounting the 60-hour anti-terrorist operation that held the world transfixed exactly a month ago.

The bloodbath unleashed by ten seaborne terrorists, who apparently came from Pakistan, left at least 170 people dead, 300 injured and India traumatized.

“We are a federal agency and I am placing it on record that our men moved within the prescribed time. One has to understand that before going for such large operations you equip yourself with extra weapons and equipment. It takes some additional time in loading and unloading equipment and weapons in the trucks,” said the head of elite commando group that led the operations that were broadcast live to television audiences worldwide.

“First the trucks were loaded at Manesar (in Haryana) and unloaded at Delhi airport. Again trucks were loaded at Mumbai airport,” Dutt said.

“I was also rushing to the airport when I received the call if I would accompany the home minister to Mumbai. I drove to his office where he was already waiting for me. When we reached the airport, a plane was already waiting to take us to Mumbai.

“We drove in the same car and discussed the situation in Mumbai. I would call it unfair if someone says Patil caused the delay, when actually there was no delay. Patil accompanied us in the same aircraft.”

The NSG and specially Patil faced strong criticism after some sections of the media reported that there was a major delay in sending NSG commandos to Mumbai. The reports said Patil arrived late at the airport, which delayed the special flight Dutt referred to.

When asked why NSG troopers were ferried from Mumbai airport to Taj hotel, the Oberoi hotel and the Nariman house - where terrorists were holed up - in public buses rather than faster vehicles, Dutt said: “When we reached Mumbai airport many vehicles were lined up outside.

“No one wants casualties if a speeding vehicle carrying commandos overturns at a time when the presence is highly required at terrorist-held sites. Our men quickly boarded the buses arranged by the local authorities and we reached there in minimum possible time.”

Dutt said when they reached Mumbai the terrorists had already taken positions and bodies were lying everywhere in the corridors of the hotels. “The terrorists had fired indiscriminately for one hour.

“It was the first time we had faced a situation where militants had held hostages in their custody. We had to take every step cautiously. Instructions were very clear that no innocent person should be killed in the operations.

“I am proud of men and especially salute the two NSG men who lost their lives during the operations. I also express my condolences to the grieving families of the NSG men and innocent people who died in the attack.”

Dutt also rubbished reports that the Maharashtra police and intelligence agencies did not provide them enough briefing when they reached the spot.

“There was good cooperation from all the stakeholders. Maharashtra police and other agencies provided all possible support. We were getting proper briefing from them.”

Asked if NSG should have its own aircraft aviation wing to reach such sites quickly, Dutt said: “The question becomes immaterial when we are getting aircraft ready on demand without delays.

“One has to be practical in making such demands. We get aircraft as and when we require.”

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