26/11: Will keep the spotlight firmly on menace of cross border terror says EAM

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari has ruffled feathers within his party following his claim that the UPA should have hit back at Pakistan following the Mumbai 26/11 attack.

In his book 10 Flash Points: 20. Years-National Security Situations that impacted India, Tewari criticised the UPA for not actioning a kinetic response to the deadliest terror attack. Tewari was a minister in the UPA government at that time.

At that time there were talks that the Indian Air Force would undertake an operation to avenge the attacks.

Journalists were told that the IAF was on standby and would launch an all out attack on Pakistan. While the IAF was ready for the battle, it appeared as though the government of the day was not keen.

The then Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major had told this correspondent while he was working at rediff.com that while there was talk about an air strike along the border to destroy jihadi camps, the government was not in favour of the same. The government felt that an action of this nature would escalate into a full-fledged war. He said that government of the day was not keen and never made up its mind on the issue.

The thinking in the government was that it needs to first establish the Pakistan link. However by the time that was established the will was gone, he also said.

The first concrete link that India to Pakistan was following the capture of Ajmal Kasab, one of the ten terrorists who struck Mumbai. It was his confession that laid the ground work for the investigation into the case.

While the government of the day failed to hit back at Pakistan, there were also other issues when the attack began. The Ram Pradhan Committee had said that the most shocking aspect was the time that the NSG arrived. The NSG landed in Mumbai from Delhi at 8 am in the morning and the first call was made by the Mumbai Police to the Ministry of Home Affairs at 10 pm the previous night when the attack began.

A member of the Ram Pradhan committee and former officer with the Research and Analysis Wing, V Balachandran said that had the NSG arrived earlier, many more lives would have been saved.

The problem that night was there was no aircraft on standby at the Palam airport. The NSG charter clearly states that an aircraft would be present at Palam at all given times.