Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday admitted that there had been “lapses on the part of the government” in preventing the horrific terror attacks in Mumbai.
He also told reporters that “some security forces” may have failed but pointed out that hundreds more could have been killed in the city if the security personnel had not taken on the terrorists.
Speaking after visiting places where the gunmen struck Nov 26 evening, Chidambaram said candidly: "I admit that there were lapses on the part of the government... There have been some lapses, those are being looked into.”
Chidambaram, who replaced Shivraj Patil as the home minister after the Mumbai carnage, asked people not to be harsh on the security agencies.
“These men are part of our society. They are drawn from the same stock. Some of them may have some failings, like you and me. None is perfect. In everyday life, our failings are shown up.
“But we should never forget that it is these men who lay down their lives to protect us. The society owes them… They work long hours, they work double shifts at times. And in a dark hour like between Nov 26 and 29, hundreds of lives were saved because 18 security personnel laid down their lives.”
Chidambaram put the death toll in the Mumbai terror attacks, for which India has blamed Pakistan-based terrorist groups, at 172. Another 293 people were injured, he said.
Pakistan has denied its involvement in the killings.
“I apologise to the people of Mumbai (for what happened),” the minister said. “The Maharashtra government is determined to root out terrorism. We will strain every nerve to improve the security system of our country. We must take on the challenge and overcome it.”
Chidambaram paid homage to everyone killed by terrorists who Indian officials say sneaked into Mumbai by boat, apparently after sailing from the Pakistani port city of Karachi.
“We deeply regret the deaths… We give our sincere and heartfelt condolences to their families and the beloved ones.
“No words can comfort them in this hour of grief. We pray that the families have the strength and fortitude to bear with the terrible loss.
“We also want to salute the security forces and pay our tributes to those who laid down their lives.”
He declined to share information about the progress in the investigation into the terror attack.