'Equipment, better intelligence could have altered 26/11 operation'

'Equipment, better intelligence could have altered 26/11 operation'

'Equipment, better intelligence could have altered 26/11 operation'

The terrorists, who were in "top physical fitness", knew the topography of the three locations -- Taj, Trident and Nariman House -- so well that he feels the LeT men who undertook the operation could have themselves done the recce of the targets under assumed names.

J K Dutt, then the chief of National Security Guard (NSG), said the Mumbai's elite Anti Terrorist Squad, which was then headed by slain IPS officer Hemant Karkare, was a "young force" and the state police had failed to realise for long that the gunmen throwing grenades and firing at innocent people in various parts of the city were not part of any gang war as they believed and that it was a terror attack.

Dutt, who retired as the force chief in February this year,said in an interview that till the last moments of the three-day operation the NSG did not have any concrete intelligence on the number of men holed up in each of the premises or even initially that the hotels had more than one building.

"In hindsight, whether this operation could have been faster or could have been handled in a different way? Yes, I believe so. If we had certain type of equipment which is now available in the market, it would definitely had been useful," said Dutt.

Asked if his team was given a proper briefing before it began its onslaught against the terrorists, Dutt said, there was no clear indication about the exact number of LeT men that they had to account for as the figures given at different times varied from 10 to 30.

"It was only in the end, when the shooting stopped, then I said look how many terrorists am I supposed to account for and I was told by no less a person than Director of Intelligence Bureau that you have to account for 10 AK 47s," he said.

He said lack of a proper hotel map was also a hindrance. On the other hand, he said the terrorists knew the inside of the hotel so well that they did not enter any room which had just one door for entry or exit. The terrorists always entered rooms with multiple doors as it was easier for them to move out when the NSG came in, he said.

Dutt said the terrorists were heavily armed and had enough arms and ammunition with them to last for two more days.

"These terrorists were heavily trained. They had top physical fitness. It was clear in their mind what their objective was and what they wanted to do. And the way they moved around also showed that they were quiet familiar with the place. How have they become familiar... they themselves may have done a recce of the place under assumed names...
"The amount of training that went into it, the amount of funding which must have gone into it. This is not something which would be done by a very small group. It was planned in a big way. Persons have probably been handpicked for this operation and then they had come," he said.

Dutt said one lesson that the NSG has learned from the Mumbai operation is the change in attitude.

"We have now realised that we have to put a lot of things in order. For example, we had intelligence but among the intelligence agencies probably that amount of coordination did not exist as was desirable... now the MAC (Multi Agency Centre) is in position. It only existed on paper earlier and now it is becoming like a think tank. The manpower which is required, the training is now at a different level altogether," he said.