ibnlive » India

Nov 22, 2009 at 06:47pm IST

NSG held up on night of 26/11: ex-chief

Mumbai: The National Security Guards (NSG) took 60 hours to eliminate the terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26 last year, but the elite commandos could have finished the job quicker if time had not been lost.

J K Dutt, who was NSG chief in November last year, told this to CNN-IBN in an interview before the first anniversary of the Mumbai attacks. “I think in operations of this nature time is of the essence,” said Dutt.

And time was lost. Dutt explained the NSG was called in almost three hours after the terrorist attacks. “The point is that the attack took place at around 9.30 pm. Law and order being a state subject it was for the state authorities to decide when they wanted Central (government) forces. When the word finally came in it was 12.50 am in the night, and that was November 27th.”

Dutt said an aircraft at the Delhi airport was assigned to take NSG commandos to Mumbai but there was no pilot or crew. The pilot and crew had to be called up from their residences, but then loading NSG’s equipment manually delayed the flight to Mumbai.

"By the time we took off it was three in the morning and by the time we reached here (Mumbai) it was 5'O clock," said Dutt. Equipment then had to be unloaded manually and put on waiting trucks and buses.

"After we were asked to move there was no delay, but probably NSG could have come here (Mumbai) earlier,” said Dutt.

“If soon after the attack--say after 30 or 45 minutes--the NSG had been asked to move, in that case we could have reached three or four hours in advance. I think in operations of this nature time is of the essence.”

Dutt said the NSG was not given any clear intelligence on the number of terrorists holed up in the Taj Mahal Palace and Trident Hotels--the estimate varied from 10 to 30--and the maps of these places were “rudimentary”

Dutt refused to comment on suspicions that the terrorists who allegedly came from Pakistan had local links in India.