New Delhi, June 11: It is known to the world that the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai happened just as India-Pakistan home secretary level talks ended in Islamabad on November 26, 2008.
However, after 7 and half years, it has come to light that the then home secretary Madhukar Gupta and some other senior officials were persuaded by the hosts (Pakistani officials) to stay back for a day at the picturesque hill retreat of Murree.
Although the reason that the Pakistanis offer is that the Indian delegates should have met the interior minister, who was then travelling. A former official who was working with the ministry at that time said, "It does raise questions as to why the Pakistanis insisted on the Indian delegation staying back an extra day after the home secretary-level talks had already concluded. Gupta was told on November 26 that he could call on the interior minister only on November 27, 2008, as the latter was travelling."
Interestingly, the place where they were shifted had weak phone signals, which isolated the entire team from the attacks at homeground. Unfortunately, that cost athe Indians a tad too much as security deployments were delayed.
The 10 terrorists struck between 8pm and 9pm on November 26 and the home ministry got into action around 9.40pm. According to an ex-bureaucrat, Gupta, on learning of the Mumbai strikes from a private person, called up special secretary (internal security) in the home ministry M L Kumawat, who was managing the initial response as per instructions of then home minister Shivraj Patil, around 11pm.
So it was left for Kumawat to pilot the initial counter-response and ask NSG to rush to Mumbai. This, while then joint secretary (north-east) Naveen Verma and under-secretary (internal security) R V S Mani reportedly manned the home ministry control room that night.
However, the question remains as to why was the offer to stay back (that too at such a location) and the acceptance made? Was it to delay the responses at the Indian front in combating the 10 LeT terrorists? This still remains to be answered.