Senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Hemant Nagrale has dashed off a letter to the Home department, detailing many of the hitherto unknown facts about the initial police response to the terror attacks at Leopold Café and the Taj on November 26.
Nagrale, who is on deputation as Director of Vigilance at MSEB, was apparently the first high-ranking police officer to reach the trouble spot. Sources in the Home department, who refused to be named, told HT on Friday that in the letter Nagrale said his experience could help the high-level committee headed by former home secretary RD Pradhan investigating the police’s response to the attacks.
“I may like to state that in the conduct of the entire operation, I did not chance across any senior officer having operational command on the spot barring DCP [Vishwas Nangre] Patil and [DCP] Rajvardhan [Sinha], due to which I could not receive any instruction for further course of action. It is possible that the officers may have been busy in other places or operations as simultaneous terrorist attacks were [on] at several places,” the sources quoted Nagrale as saying in his letter.
The letter said at 9.45 pm on November 26, Nagrale, who resides on the first floor of the Colaba police station, heard gunshots while having dinner. Nagrale took his Glock pistol and ran down.
Nagrale and some armed policemen moved towards Leopold Café where they found the terrorists had left. Then gunshots were heard from the direction of the Taj. Nagrale and his team — PSI Kakade, constables Pawar and Sonawane — headed towards it. A taxi driver told them he had seen two terrorists entering at 9.30 pm after leaving a bag near the Gateway of India. The cops called in the bomb squad, who defused the explosives.
Nagrale’s team entered the hotel and met its general manager, Karanbir Kang, who told them four gunmen had gone to the sixth floor.
Nagrale spoke to AdCP K Venkatesham over the wireless, while people hiding in the shops and restaurants were evacuated to safety. He spoke to joint director (IB) Datta Padsalgikar from Taj Vice-President Krishna Kumar's mobile.
Nagrale said he had to go back home, in a police van, to get his mobile phone on which the numbers of senior officials was stored and more ammunition. When he came back, he found DCP Rajvardhan and Nangre Patil had arrived.
Nagrale then spoke to Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor and DGP AN Roy who said they were calling in the Army.
Nagrale stayed in the hotel consulting with the two DCPs till the Naval commandos arrived on the scene at 5 am.