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Maharashtra government disagrees with Pradhan panel, gives Gafoor clean chit

Source: PTI
June 16, 2009 17:10 IST
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The Maharashtra government on Tuesday rejected the finding of the Ram Pradhan committee on the 26/11 terror attacks that the then Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor had "failed" to lead the force during the terrorist strikes last November.

The Action to be Taken Report tabled in the state legislature on Tuesday questioned how the committee called the head of Mumbai police a failure when, in its report, it had lauded the entire force for its handling of the 26/11 attacks.

Gafoor was recently shifted to a low profile post as director general of police (housing) on promotion.

'During the whole operation, he was stationed at only one location near Hotel Trident. There was a lack of co-ordinated and visible control due to which a message went to the public that police were ineffective in handling the situation,' the report has noted.

The committee said senior police officials told them that the commissioner did not guide them or inquire about the ongoing operations.

Even though Gafoor contacted officers on wireless or mobile phone, there was never a feeling among them that they were part of a united force, officers told the committee.

The Pradhan Committee report said it was essential for Gafoor to have taken charge of the control room as this would have avoided duplication of efforts on the part of various police units.

However, the government in its Action to be Taken Report said the Pradhan Committee does not make any clear mention of duplication of efforts on the part of the police.

Gafoor's written comments have not been taken on record.

'He had set up a regional control room and was stationed at the place. Till the end, he was co-ordinating with various police units,' the ATR noted.

The report said the Mumbai police or any other police machinery could not have handled the 'war-like' 26/11 terror attacks and said a special force like the National Security Guard was needed to face the attack.

The committee has praised the city police machinery for handling the situation courageously at all the five spots where the terror attacks took place. It has a special word of praise for joint commissioner of police (crime) Rakesh Maria for his handling of the serious situation.

The Pradhan panel has said Gafoor did not ask for any report from the Anti-Terrorist Squad in the aftermath of the terror attacks. The need of the hour was to analyse and discuss the events in detail to boost team spirit.

The government, however, has said that seeking reports, discussions and analysis after the incidents are not mandatory as per the standard procedures. It said the lacuna would be fixed.

The Pradhan committee said standard procedures were not followed during the crisis situation.

According to the procedure, the joint commissioner of police (law and order) heads the disaster management cell and co-ordinates with all the control rooms. The joint CP (crime) will co-ordinate with the ATS chief.

'The procedure was not followed on 26/11. Instead, Gafoor asked joint CP (crime) to co-ordinate the control room while the Joint CP (law and order) would have been better placed to take decisions regarding deployment of police officials at different places,' the committee said.

The panel has also noted that the present Quick Response Team with the Mumbai police was not in a position to handle a terror attack like 26/11.

The government said it was wrong to say that standard procedures were not followed. The joint CP (law and order), who should be in charge of the disaster management cell and co-ordinate with all control rooms, was shifted to other urgent work and the decision was taken jointly by Gafoor and then director general of police A N Roy.

The report also noted that the DGP does not have any administrative limit in the entire state. Hence, there is no question of the DGP having any limitation of using his powers in Mumbai.

The DGP is not only senior to the Mumbai police commissioner, but is head of the state police force also and hence is responsible for the law and order and the security of the entire state, it said.

The DCP (operations) had taken charge of the control room initially, but Gafoor asked Maria to take charge considering the seriousness of the incident, the ATR said.

It has assured that the standard procedures would be further improved.

It also said a committee of experts would be set up to review the preparedness of the police force in all the main cities of the state while tackling terror threats.

The ATR that the government will also seriously consider the recommendations made by the Pradhan committee and implement them.

It said QRTs would be set up for cities other than Mumbai and would be armed with modern arms and ammunition.

The home department has brought about changes in acting on intelligence inputs post 26/11.

The principal secretary (law and order), home department, will be the nodal officer to collect all the intelligence inputs on acting upon them. Weekly meetings would be held to analyse and scrutinise intelligence inputs chaired by the home minister, the ATR added.

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