Former Mumbai Police chief indicted for 26/11 lapses

June 16th, 2009 - 11:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) A government-appointed probe panel has criticised former Mumbai Police commissioner Hasan Gafoor for failure to provide “visible and overt leadership” during the 26/11 terrorist attacks.
Though the committee of Ram Pradhan and V. Balachandran praised Mumbai Police for the manner in which they responded to the unprecedented crisis, the force has been pulled up for flouting standard operating procedures (SOP) and other systemic norms.

The observations have been made in the report of the Ram committee that enquired into the lapses leading to the Nov 26-29, 2008 terrorist attacks that claimed more than 170 lives.

The state government chose not to make public the 100-page committee observations but tabled in the Maharashtra assembly its action taken report (ATR) Tuesday.

Indicting Gafoor, the probe report, according to excerpts in the ATR, said : “During the whole operation, he positioned himself near the Hotel Trident-Oberoi. There was a lack of coordinated and visible control due to which a message went to the public that police were ineffective in handling the situation.

“Senior officers told us that in those three days, the commissioner of police neither gave any directions and nor enquired of ongoing operations.

“We found that although the commissioner kept in touch on wireless and mobile on selective basis, several officers felt that they did not get a feeling that they were part of a team.

“We have come to a conclusion that there was absence of visible and overt leadership on the part of Gafoor.”

The committee said Gafoor should have positioned himself at the Police Control Room and coordinated the operations from there.

It expressed surprise that the former city police chief did not call for a report on the 26/11 incidents from the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).

Seeking to defend Gafoor, the government’s ATR has noted: “The observation cannot be accepted. It indicates that Mumbai Police has done its duty and done it well. Therefore, it is not clear how the leader of that force alone can be said to have failed.”

The report also clearly underlined the need for a revamp of the intelligence machinery and suggested changes in the current reporting structure of the elite ATS.

It also sought to blame the managements of the Hotel Taj Mahal Palace and Tower and Hotel Trident-Oberoi for failing to heed security alerts.

Apprehending trouble well in advance, the state government last Saturday effected the abrupt promotional transfer of Gafoor.

Terming the situation as “war-like”, for which a specialised agency like the National Security Guard (NSG) was deployed, the committe appreciated the contribution of Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Rakesh Maria who manned the Police Control Room after being instructed by Gafoor.

It also provided certain details to prove how the SOPs were not observed by the Mumbai Police chief in handling the 26/11 crisis.

The committee included former union home secretary Ram Pradhan and former deputy secretary in the cabinet secretariat V. Balachandran.

The state government had appointed another committee comprising Chief Secretary Johny Joseph and Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chandra Iyengar to prepare an ATR on the Pradhan Committee report.

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