Thirteen years after 26/11, one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in the country’s history, the unfortunate day is still etched in my mind, and my heart goes out thinking about the victims, their families, and the survivors.
When Mumbai grappled with the four-day siege, it was broadcast live exclusively on all our 24-hour news channels. I vividly remember how TV anchors in their studios and journalists at the ground kept up an endless stream of excited commentary. All of us watched it in disbelief how a small group of men armed with guns and grenades exposed the powerlessness of the security apparatus of a supposedly mighty, nuclear-powered nation.
The only surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab, apprehended alive by the Mumbai Police, disclosed that the attackers were Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) from Pakistan, reiterating the Indian Government’s stand. In 2009, Pakistan also confirmed that the sole surviving perpetrator of the attacks was a Pakistani citizen hanged in Yerwada Jail in 2012.
This disclosure is about some of those critical people connected with the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Please bear with me as it will be a long tale, and I cannot comprehend where to begin.
If you didn’t know, it would shock you to the core that India’s top security officials were ‘holidaying’ in Murree, a hill station near the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
All the Secretary level officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs of India, including the Home Secretary, had gone to Pakistan. The ‘Home Secretary Level Talks’. was scheduled to end on 25 November, and the delegation was supposed to return on 26 November 2008. However, the talks were extended for a day at the behest of Pakistan. The delegation was then sent on a pleasure trip to Murree, a Hill Station which was out of communication for all mobile networks.
When there was mayhem in Mumbai, MHA officials, including the Counter-terrorism Officers, were galivanting at Murree. There was no officer in the MHA to take any decision. Deputy commandant-level paramilitary officers such as BSF, ITBP and CRPF, who were in the control room, kept on trying to contact the Indian counter-terrorism officers in Islamabad but were unable to reach them.
Another irony revealed later was that the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was in Delhi, was provided with a special flight by the Indian Government when the news of the attack was flashed.
But the Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil was not reachable. At last, when NSG was ordered to react and were fully loaded for the plane to take off, Shivraj Patil chose to take the same flight and further delayed the NSG’s movement. The delayed response provided more time for the terrorists to wreak carnage. Such was the level of shenanigans of politicians and bureaucrats.
It is evident that the MHA officers stranded in Pakistan were not a coincidence but a conspiracy between the Pakistan Government and ISI.
But what is shocking is that this info was kept under the carpet. It was revealed for the first time in June 2016, when the Sunday Guardian published an exclusive document accessed through RTI, that there was a last-minute postponement of the talk to ensure that the top brass of India’s security establishment was out of reach when Pak-backed terrorists carried out the dastardly attacks.
The revelation is shocking, not just because it took a change in Government and seven-and-a-half years for the overnight stay at Murree to come to light. There was hardly any convincing explanation as to why the senior officers of the home ministry chose to remain in Pakistan.
There are still some unanswered questions:
Why did Pakistan offer Indian officials to stay back?
Why were Indian officials made to stay at a location like Muree, with no connectivity?
Why did the Indian officials accept the offer? And if they did, why it was not made public?
Why was the sanction of the extension of stay backdated?
As per the SG report, the first copy of the “sanction order” of the delegation for the talks clearly stated, “The Home Secretary-level talks with Pakistan are scheduled on 25.11.2008 at Islamabad. In this regard, it is proposed that the delegation led by the Home Secretary would return to Delhi from Islamabad on 26.11.2008.”
However, a revised copy of the “sanction order” shows that the dates were changed from 25-26 to 25-27 of November, and the correction was made by hand on a backdated file approved on 20 November 2008. The order reads: “Kind approval of Hon’ble Minister may be solicited to the deputation of 10-member Indian delegation (listed in para 2 above), to be led by Home Secretary to Islamabad, Pakistan from 25.11.2008 to 27.11.2008 (excluding journey time) for holding Home Secretary-level talks.” Here:
The entire episode came to light when RVS Mani, then Under Secretary, handled the original sanction order, made the lapses public. Once the revelation was published, the man who led the delegation, former Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta, conceded.
The question thus comes to mind is, who were the MHA officials helping by omitting this info? Their Pakistani counterparts who our officials with a sinister motive to delay the responses at the Indian front in combating the terrorists?
These uncomfortable questions compel us to look at the whole picture – the political environment and the way MHA used to operate in those days.
We all know how even before the tears could dry up; Congress heir apparent Rahul Gandhi went partying at a farmhouse on Delhi’s outskirts.
Who can forget how immediately after the 26/11 attack, the prize minion of Congress Party, Digvijay Singh, was found launching a book, “26/11- RSS KI SAZISH.”? “Who Killed Karkare” was another book aimed at denigrating the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Maharashtra Police. Thanks to the Hutatma Tukaram Omble, Ajmal Kassab was caught; else, we would not have been able to prove that India was a victim of terror attacks from across the border. But the narrative building continued.
In July 2009, at a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence, Rahul Gandhi, in a controversial comment, told US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer that the growth of “radicalized Hindu groups” posed a bigger threat to the country than militant groups like LeT, according to a leaked American diplomatic cable.
To understand this phenomenon, let us go a few years back. During 2005-06 there was an acute Muslim disenchantment with the Congress party, evident from the crushing defeat in the Gujarat local elections and near-complete rout in Bihar. All leads suggest that’s the origin of the Hindu Terror Myth was concocted nowhere else but in the high office of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs. RVS Mani was first summoned on 1 June 2006 by Hemant Karkare (who later became the ATS Chief in Maharashtra) and was asked to give some critical information of recent terrorist acts to ensure that the MHA and the plotters were in sync.
Soon, a series of low-intensity terror attacks targeting Muslims were conducted to create a “Saffron Terror” background.
After the September 2006 Malegaon Blast, the first arrest of Noor-Ul-Hooda, an activist of SIMI, was made. ATS reported that the prime conspirator Shabbir Batterywala is an operative of LeT, and the co-conspirator is Raees Ahmad of SIMI. However, on 12 September 2006, PM Manmohan Singh said it was inappropriate to “rule out or rule in the involvement of Hindu Groups.” Imagine how a false narrative was slowly launched from the PM’s office in the country.
Two years later, another Malegaon Blast occurred. In a matter of days, Sadhvi Pragya, Lt Col Purohit, and a host of members of Abhinav Bharath were arrested when Hemant Karkare, Mumbai ATS, took over the case.
In 2007 after the Samjhauta Express blast, the initial leads pointed to Pakistan and SIMI as partners; in an anti-climax, the Maharashtra ATS shockingly alleged that Col Purohit had been involved.
All the subsequent bomb blasts, Mecca Masjid – May 2007, Ajmer Sharif – October 2007, had a similar fate. All the clinching pieces of evidence were ignored, and the blame was shifted from Islamists to Hindus. In the absence of even a shred of evidence, the court gave all of them bail many years later. Sadhvi Pragya and Col Purohit came out of jail after years of imprisonment without any charge sheet. All these investigations were intriguing, unusual, unprecedented, and explicitly points to insidious and hidden motives in the probe, were an absolute miscarriage of justice both ways – not only by torturing the innocent but also by letting free the real offenders.
Given the political propensities and compulsion, the ruling Congress party functionaries like Home Minister P Chidambaram and its General Secretary Digvijay Singh repeatedly made explicit comments about the notion of Hindu terror.
This author has written in-depth about the Saffron Terror Conspiracy behind these blasts and their investigations. Now, if you look back at the background, 26/11 was the culmination of the Hindu-Terror conspiracy.
It is essential to recall the interrogation of Pakistani-American David Headley, who had given some clinching details in his interrogation.
I met Rahul Bhatt (filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s son) through a person called Vilas during a body-building competition. Important to note because Mahesh Bhatt was also present alongside Digvijay Singh launching the “26/11- RSS Ki Sazish” book.
He visited Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple and purchased 15-20 sacred threads (Kalava) for 26/11 attackers so that they would appear Hindus as a cover-up of their identities. It only explains how the terror operatives and the top Indian politicians were in total sync.
But here, I will explore his confession about Ishrat Jahan and her accomplices as an ISI module, who was explicitly sent to assassinate Modi; then, CM of Gujarat. The module was compromised in a brilliant counterintelligence operation.
The fake encounter case was in the court, and the interrogation report of Headley was crucial for the defence of Gujarat Counterintelligence. In a shocking move, Home Minister P Chidambaram cleverly excised and manipulated the statements so that the Gujrat police get indicted for killing the terrorists. Yes, unbelievable but true! Home Minister of our country was indicting his own police personnel to ensure the terrorists sent by ISI Pakistan become martyrs. P Chidambaram approved the affidavit and ‘the second affidavit’ on file. The file has been missing from the MHA office, only to ensure that the black act of the traitor remains in the dark. An FIR for the missing documents was registered and forgone.
The same officer RVS Mani, a middle rung bureaucrat in the MHA during the crucial period of UPA rule between 2006 to 2010, later wrote a shockingly revealing book called “‘The Myth of Hindu Terror.’ The media conveniently ignored this book for doubts on its authenticity. Mr Mani has openly named all who perpetrated such crimes against the nation. If they were not involved, they would have gone against him for concoction. But not a single minister or government official has had the guts to confront him or take him to court. The strategy to date has been to feign ignorance and pretend that it does not exist.
All the leads suggest that these rogues led by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and represented by Ex-PM Dr Manmohan Singh, Ex Home Ministers Shivraj Patil, P. Chidambaram and Sushil Kumar Shinde, together misused and abused the constitutional offices under oath. They compromised the national security of this country, protecting the enemies who have been killing our citizens in the terror attacks and bleeding India.
Never forget. Never forgive!