The tip-off about possible strikes by terrorists in Mumbai was given personally by the then Home Minister Shivraj Patil to Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy R.R. Patil nearly two months ago. Highly placed sources said that Patil told the top state functionaries of the “threat to iconic structures in Mumbai” at a meeting at the Raj Bhawan in the presence of governor S.C. Jamir.
Sources said Patil had been informed about the possible strikes by intelligence agencies, which had intercepted coded messages pointing to a strike by the sea route. He had told Deshmukh and his deputy that security around the Gateway of India, the Bombay High Court and other such buildings, including the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, should be beefed up.
Maharashtra had also subsequently sounded an alert and even the Taj had increased its vigilance. But since intelligence inputs did not specify the date and time of the expected attack, the authorities lowered their guard.
This information could not be corroborated with Deshmukh and R.R. Patil as neither were available for comments till late on Wednesday.
Sources said that in almost all the strikes by terrorists over the past few years, the intelligence agencies have been able to provide information. But somehow, those who received it never acted upon the information.
Significantly, Deshmukh himself was aware that the sea route was vulnerable. In a meeting with officials from the security forces in July, he had insisted that the sea route be guarded. At the same meeting, he had pointed out that the security at CST and public hospitals also needed to be beefed up. Ironically, the terrorists used the sea-route and even attacked Cama Hospital, nearby.
(With inputs by HT Political Bureau, Mumbai)