Myopic stance

SECOND EDIT

The Maharashtra government’s reasons for its refusal to make public the report of the Ram Pradhan committee which went into the security lapses during the terrorist attack in Mumbai last November are unconvincing. The government had promised to table the report in the state Assembly but later presented only some chosen findings and an action taken report. It cited security reasons and the ongoing trial of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab for its refusal. But it is felt that the real reason was the government's fear that an expose of the failings of the security system and a debate on it would hurt the government’s prospects in the coming Assembly elections. Governments routinely suppress inconvenient information on the excuse that it would compromise security, and enquiries made at taxpayers’ expense are pushed under the carpet. This has happened to the Pradhan committee report too. It is unfortunate that political considerations have got the better of public interest in the government’s handling of an issue of national importance.

Even the action taken report is unsatisfactory. It does not show many actions taken by the government on the basis of the findings of the committee. It only lists some proposals which the government is planning to pursue, and does not state what concrete actions have been taken. For example, the government promises to set up a committee to study the committee’s recommendation to formulate an integrated security plan for the state’s cities. The government counters the committee’s observation that intelligence inputs were not acted upon with the argument that the intelligence services did not provide the exact time of the attack!

The Mumbai police and the state’s entire security establishment failed before and during the attack. But the government has singled out just one person, Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor. It is necessary to look at the findings and recommendations of the entire report comprehensively, if the right lessons are to be drawn from the mishandling of the situation. Even the committee was handicapped by the fact that it did not have access to full intelligence information. The government’s response shows that it has not taken the report seriously. It should also be noted that the findings of the report will be useful to authorities in other parts of the country, where also the threat of terrorist attacks is real. Other countries have drawn up security plans on the basis of the Mumbai attack. But we refuse to act on our own experience.

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