The change of the NSG’s charter during the Mumbai 26/11 attack is one of the biggest mysteries and would require a thorough probe. Since the time of the attack and the probe that followed, there has been a debate on whether the attack had the blessings of the locals and some within the government.

India recently observed the 11th anniversary of the attack. Timed with the anniversary was also the release of the movie, Hotel Mumbai, which took us through the horrors of that night. While across all official channels, it has been concluded that the attack was the handiwork of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistan, would it not be pertinent to ask for an in-depth probe into the local angle to find out who the mole in the Indian establishment was?

What was Shivraj Patil doing?

It was with horror everyone watched the attack. What was even more terrifying was the response of the UPA government. To understand this more, let us examine a video that was posted on December 1, 2019. It is an interview of RVS Mani, the former home ministry official who was posted at the Internal Security Division at the time of the attack

In the interview conducted by Suresh Kochattil, Mani says that the NSG was ready and the then Union home minister, Shivraj Patil, had said that he would accompany the team. He took almost two hours, and in the meantime, we had proposed withdrawing the local resources and using them to counter the strike. The CRPF and CISF units posted locally could have been used until the NSG got there, but Patil did not give his consent, Mani also says.

Mani further says that Patil reached the airport where the NSG plane was stationed at 2:20 am. The NSG is all about agility and if the commandos are asked to wait inside the plane for more than two hours, then it can impact agility. Even after landing in Mumbai finally, Patil expected protocol and this contributed to yet another half an hour delay. The NSG could have landed in Mumbai within 2 hours, but all these events contributed to a 5-hour delay.

There was a war on in Mumbai and we were ceding to the terrorists, Mani also says in the interview.

Mani further goes on to say that the attack was a fixed match between the ISI and the local Congress government. He speaks about a top bureaucrat in Mumbai who was aware of all the reports that suggested an attack. He said that she was at the Taj hotel and it was surprising how she managed to leave unhurt.


A trade-off botched:

Mani says on December 11, 2008, when Parliament was convened for the first time after the attack, the new home minister, P Chidambaram had made a suo motu statement. He had admitted that the Indian Navy had sighted a ship in Pakistani water and later, since no further intelligence was generated the search was abandoned.

Mani says that the Indian Navy does not abandon its surveillance if the intelligence is not forthcoming. This was about a coastal terror attack and Mani adds that it is hard to believe that the Indian Navy would abandon its surveillance by its own accord.

Mani also makes a stunning charge about a possible trade-off with Ajmal Kasab, who was captured alive. He said that there was a trade-off attempt made. He says that there an attempt to ensure the release of Kasab by trading him for a kidnapped officer of the security establishment. However, the operation was botched up he says.

Honey Bee:

In the year 2013, a book called The Siege written by two British journalists, Adrian Levy and Cathy Scot-Clark stirred the hornet’s nest. It stated that David Headley’s handler, major Iqbal had boasted of having a super-agent at work in New Delhi, known as Honey Bee.

It was this super-agent that helped the ISI masterminds identify a poorly patrolled landing site-Badhwar Park for the terrorists to enter Mumbai by sea.

This information was shared with David Headley by ISI officials. When he conducted a reconnaissance for the attack, he had even checked out this area, the book had also claimed.

Major Iqbal also said that he had classified Indian files, which he had obtained from within the Indian police. It was also claimed by major Iqbal that the ISI’s double agent, Honey Bee had come up with the potential landing area in Badhwar Park. He had said that it was patchily patrolled and was also shielded from the road. Headley was told by major Iqbal that he should check this area out.

Who changed the NSG’s charter?

Former officer with the Research and Analysis Wing, V Balachandran, who was part of the Ram Pradhan Committee to probe the lapses by the Mumbai Police tells MyNation that changing the charter of the NSG was one of the most shocking aspects. At least 100 lives could have been saved had the NSG arrived in time.

He says that he was very much involved in the process at the time, the NSG was being set up. It was said that a plane would be there at Palam 24/7, 365 days of the year. “Why was there no aircraft available immediately at the Palam airport? Who had changed this charter?” Balachandran also asks.

In our report, we mentioned that had the NSG arrived immediately, 100 lives could have been saved. Had the NSG reached Mumbai at 12 midnight, then whatever killing happened between that time and 8 am could have been averted.

When UPA fidgeted:

The manner in which the terrorists negotiated the roads of Mumbai, before taking position at the hotels, it appeared as though they had some local support. Balachandran says that during the hearing at the Ram Pradhan Committee, this point had cropped up.

We learnt that a local smuggler associated with the Dawood Ibrahim syndicate may have been involved. He had some huts in Machimarnagar and is said to have provided shelter to the terrorists. Further, unlike what was claimed that the terrorists had landed on the same night of the attack, we were told that they landed a few days ago and conducted a reconnaissance.

We had pursued this point and even handed it over to the Home Ministry. A copy was given to the then home minister, P Chidambaram, but I do not know what happened after that, Balachandran adds.

After our committee was formed, the chief secretary had written to the Union Government about the same. However, we were told informally that the Union Government will not take part in the inquiry. We were not given the copies of the intelligence reports. Fortunately for us, the same was forwarded to the state government, following which we were able to get it.

The NSG came into the picture next day at 8am. We were looking into the aspects only before the NSG came. We never had access to the CCTV footage and we too, then decided not to get into the NSG aspect, Balachandran also says.