A salute to J K Dutt who undertook India’s most complex operation: The attacks of 26/11
New Delhi, May 20: It was one of the worst attacks, India had witnessed when terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba stormed Mumbai and attacked the city on November 26 2008.
The terrorists wrecked havoc while killing scores of people in an attack crafted by the Lashkar at the behest of the ISI. As people looked helpless, it was the National Security Guards, which came into the picture before taking the terrorists down. We recall this incident as the man J K Dutt who led the commando force against the terrorists and killed them lost a battle to COVID-19 after spending nearly a month in hospital.
The Mumbai police was clearly in panic until Dutt boarded an IL-76 aircraft of the Aviation Research Centre along with 200 black cats' commandos.
Dutt led the force in launching Operation Black Tornado and killed the 10 Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists.
The NSG commandos were sent to the Taj, Oberoi Trident and the Chabad House where they successfully flushed out the terrorists.
A year after the attack, this correspondent had caught up with Dutt, who had back then said he believed that there were more than ten terrorists. Looking at the mayhem, I felt that there were more than ten he said.
Dutt also answered several questions that had stirred a controversy back then. There were questions about the possibility of local support that the terrorists had. Further another controversy was around the delay in the NSG reaching Mumbai. On the local support Dutt said that one could not rule out the possibility of the same. He however maintained that this was something for the investigating agency to ascertain as the NSG was only called in to gun down the terrorists. The case today has reached its finality and there is still no concrete mention of any local support.
Coming to the delay in the NSG reaching Mumbai, he had told this correspondent that there was no definitive information and they were told that there were anything between 5 and 30 terrorists. He said that the aircraft was available, but there was no system to keep everything on standby.
He also said that the Mumbai police had initially thought it to be a gangwar and they had geared up for the same. On whether the NSG should have reached earlier, Dutt had said then that the agency does not have suo motu powers.
In an interview with PTI, Dutt had said that force was under pressure to use tear gas. However the idea was shot down for the fear of the repeat of another Russian Theatre disaster. But inside a hotel (Taj), when people are inside a room, if gas is let, how does one know that there are no heart patients, asthma patients and children inside.
I may be causing more casualties than the terrorists. In fact, if you surf the internet and look at one of the incidents that occurred in Russia... It had disastrous effects, he had told the news agency.
In the interview with this correspondent, Dutt said that the attack was a once in a lifetime incident. The most important thing was to rescue the hostages and this is why the operation took nearly three days after the NSG arrived.
Dutt said that on November 28 at 3 am, the NSG established contact with the terrorists at Trident and by 7.30 am they were gunned down. On the same day the terrorists at Chabad House were gunned down. On November 29, the operation at the Taj was completed, Dutt had said.
To an officer who undertook one of the most complex operations without any fear.
To an officer who was so down to earth, a salute from this correspondent. Om Shanti!