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Buried in the rubble, ten questions

As nation's financial capital, Mumbai, copes with one of the world’s worst terrorist attacks in years, several questions remain unanswered. Neelesh Misra seeks explanation.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2008 01:16 IST
Neelesh Misra
Neelesh Misra
Hindustan Times

As Mumbai copes with one of the world’s worst terrorist attacks in years, several questions remain.

1 Security officials say the terrorists received no local aid and carried all the arms and ammunition in rug sacks from Pakistan. However, it is unclear how they lugged weaponry that lasted the group 59 hours as they walked swiftly on Mumbai's streets.

There were four terrorists, for example, at the Taj — they exploded at least 42 grenades and fired hundreds of rounds from their AK 47s, and 50 were found unexploded. A hand grenade weighs between half a kilogramme to a kilogramme depending on the type, and a magazine weighs 225 grams — that would mean more than 100 kilogrammes of weight, with all four men purportedly carrying the equivalent of a very heavy suitcase and walking around briskly, shooting to kill.

2 Why was Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh allowed to take an entourage into the ravaged Taj Mahal hotel, their presence ruining many forensics clues that would have helped build a stronger case in court?

3 Media leaks say large quantities of RDX were found outside the Taj. But army officials who scoured the area deny any such finding.

4 Why did it take the National Security Guards (NSG) take 10 hours to reach the site from Manesar in Haryana, though the seriousness of the attacks was clear within 45 minutes when the top police officers died? When was the force requisitioned? Why was their travel delayed?

5 A day after the terrorist attack and casualties at the CST Railway Station, why did Sumana Raghavan, general manager of Central Railways, fly down to New Delhi and party at Taj Palace hotel with Railway Board colleagues?

6 Why were journalists allowed so close to the gunbattle sites? Why did the police not cordon off the entire area soon after they realized the enormity of the crisis? Why were terrorists allowed on live TV?

7 When they allegedly landed by boat, did the terrorists break into two groups (as claimed by the chief minister) or three? How did they walk the long distances on the road, with weapons in hand, before seizing vehicles?

8 Why were the deaths of the three police officers made public? Combat experts say it is a deeply morale-busting move.

9 Why were the police so poorly equipped? Even the senior officers did no have battle gear although a fullscale gunbattle was underway.

10 Did the two taxis blow up due to explosives packed inside – which would support the RDX theory – or due to grenades?

First Published: Dec 02, 2008 00:43 IST