Taj, Oberoi hotels were warned of terror attack: Maharashtra

June 16th, 2009 - 9:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) The Taj and Oberoi hotels in south Mumbai had been warned of a terrorist attack three months before the Nov 26 strike but they failed to act on the repeated warnings, the Maharashtra government has said in a report.
The observations are made in the action taken report (ATR) on the report of the Ram Pradhan Committee that enquired into the lapses leading to the Nov 26-29, 2008 terrorist attacks that claimed more than 170 lives.

The state government said the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, the Hotel Trident-Oberoi and the World Trade Centre were first warned of the possibility of such attacks on Aug 9, 2008.

Taking the intelligence warnings very seriously, police had even visited these places and reviewed the security systems in place.

Senior police officials of the Marine Lines police station had conveyed a similar warning to other hotels, malls and important commercial establishments in the area.

The government said that on Sep 9, 2008, a central intelligence agency had specifically informed the security agencies here that the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had been targeting the Hotel Taj.

Upon getting the intelligence tip-off, police officials had conveyed it to the five-star hotel and a team even visited the hotel five days later.

Police met the hotel manager, Karamveer Kant, and again had a follow-up meeting the next day, according to the report.

However, the hotel ignored the police and intelligence warnings, it said.

The Taj hotel was among the worst-hit sites during the terrorist attacks. The 10 terrorists who had sneaked in from Pakistan held guests at the Taj and Oberoi hotels hostage till security personnel killed nine of them and captured one after a 60-hour operation.

The report said that despite all the attempts by the security apparatus, none of the affected sites had requested for additional police security which could have helped prevent the terror attacks.

The 18-page ATR was tabled in the state legislature Tuesday, the last day of its budget-cum-monsoon session. However, the government did not table the inquiry committee’s report.

The inquiry committee was headed by former union home secretary Ram Pradhan and also included V. Balachandran, former deputy secretary in the cabinet secretariat.

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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