Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Defenders (Off-topic: Bombay terror attacks, 26-29 November 2008)

Almost all private discussions on the subject seems to end on an extremely uncomfortable point: Nearly 2000 troops drawn from army & navy, including 250 (later augmented to 500) odd especially trained in urban warfare. Plus innumerable city cops. They take 3 days to bring down just 8 terrorists, & have to sacrifice 2 military men in the process!!!

And these 8 were not even concentrated at one location. Only 2 were able to hold the two towers of Oberoi, 4 were able to hold 2 towers of Taj! However well trained, armed, or motivated they might have been - it just doesn't make sense.

We do know the terrorists were not invulnerable. Girgaum beach encounter happened on 26th around the time cops realized the seriousness of attack. Both terrorists approaching this roadblock were dispatched in spite of their superior arms & training - one killed by a cop with an ordinary service revolver, other overpowered by unarmed cops.
Update: Forgot mentioning. Catching the automatic gun wielding terrorist by unarmed cops did cost the life of a policeman - ASI Mr Tukaram Omble.

So how do we explain the 3 day standoff?

  1. It doesn't appear to be because of hostages welfare - most of them were killed before NSG reached the sites. Besides, a prolonged fight is guaranteed to harm more hostages.
  2. It could not have been for the safety of buildings. Prolonged fight did serious damage to all buildings, including major structural damage to at least 2 buildings.
There was a remark, I think on TV & I think by one of the NSG officers on 29th, after the end of operations. Something to the effect - if given a free hand, we could have finished this job in 15 minutes! So why did it drag on for 3 days?

Only thing that makes sense seems to be some sort of negotiations with the terrorists, which the government denies. Can someone think of another explanation? What am I missing?


  1. All posts about Bombay terror attacks, 26-29 November 2008.
  2. Feed that collects only the posts on this subject.


Krishnan said...

Tinkoo, maybe government overestimated the number of terrorists. Remember initially they were saying about 25-30 terrorists have sneaked in, and later on only the number was whittled down to a dozen or 10 of them. Government would have thought they could minimize the number of deaths, although it did not work out, but I am sure one guy, Deputy CM, R.R. Patil, would have been glad as he thought 5000 would have been killed !

Tinkoo said...

Krishnan: "maybe government overestimated the number of terrorists" - which is too bad & doesn't really reflect well on security agencies. And there is that mysterious "15 minutes" comment.

Also, 25-30 (actually 20-40) number was being handed out by those who were completely clueless about the ground situation, & had not in fact got them from those on the front, if I recall an NSG officer's interview right. NSG was unhappy because it told the terrorists the government was clueless about them.

"Government would have thought they could minimize the number of deaths": How can a prolonged operation save lives, unless the lengthening involves negotiations?