Reprimanding the allegations that there was a delay on part of the Union Home Ministry in sending help to the then Marharashtra government to fight back terrorists in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, former Home Minister Shivraj Patil said within three hours of the attack, he travelled to Mumbai, along with 250-300 National Security Guard commandos, in an aircraft.
When asked if there was nobody to handle the situation at the MHA as the then home secretary, Madhukar Gupta, had led a delegation to Pakistan, which affected the decision making as well, Patil said, “In fact, if it (attack) is taking place in Mumbai, then in our country we have maximum police strength there to tackle it. Further, when we came to know, we dispatched NSG commandos within two-three hours.
“No aircraft was available here, and then we called one from Chandigarh and dispatched 250-300 NSG commandos within 2-3 hours to Mumbai and I also travelled with them. That was a freight aircraft and we travelled to Mumbai standing.”
Rejecting the charges that the home secretary-led delegation was enjoying Pakistan’s hospitality in Murree, a hill station close to Islamabad, Patil said, the home secretary had gone there and possibly he had been told that if they want to meet the Pakistan Interior Minister then they would have to stay for a day, following which they were shifted to Murree.
“But, some people don’t understand that law and order constitutionally is the responsibility of the state government and until the state government asks for help from the Centre, we don’t send forces. But, if we feel that it’s important to send force in a state but the state government is not asking for it neither it is able to control the situation. In such circumstances, we can dismiss the state government and send forces in the state.”
Elaborating on the measures taken by the state and the Centre to deal with the attacks, Patil said, “The Mumbai Police Commissioner had constituted a committee that was taking the control of the operation. We didn’t interfere with them otherwise there would have been more confusion due to differences of opinion.”
When asked if it was a conspiracy on part of Pakistan to hold back the delegation for a day, he said, “If it was a conspiracy, then who had conspired? We will have to see whether the person who is saying that it was a conspiracy had presumed it or he got any evidence. I don’t think it is fine for me to pass a judgment on it. Let them say.”
“You ask Modiji, Baroda was under attack. I asked him do you need forces, he said send military. I said it would take time; then he said ‘bhej deejiye tab tak manage kar loonga, aur voh becharon ney manage kia bhi.”