26/11 attacks: Ex-home secretary Madhukar Gupta denies reports that MHA was 'partying' in Murree

In response to a Times Now report that said top MHA officials were partying in Pakistan’s Murree during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, former Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta told ANI “I don't know why reports are saying that we were holidaying in Murree hill station. All the MHA officials stayed at Murree for a few hours because the hosts (Pakistan) had made arrangements.”

On Thursday, Times Now had reported that a team of top intel officials who were visiting Pakistan for talks were asked to extend their stay. Pakistan Government ensured they stayed back and were taken to Murree, a hill station close to Islamabad. They were taken to a no network zone which meant they were out of reach. Two top officials have confirmed that Pakistan tricked India into ensuring MHA top brass stayed back while the attacks were on.

A former MHA official told The Times of India, Pakistan had insisted they meet the Interior Minister and that's the reason for their extended stay. However, Gupta did accept that they found the gesture of the Pakistan government of accommodating Indian officials in Murree odd.

"Though we had been staying in Islamabad for two days, the host country made special plans to shift us to a nearby hill resort in Murree. In retrospect, it leads us to suspect if the real motive was to delay or weaken the response of Indian security brass to the 26/11 strikes," said a former bureaucrat told The Times of India.

Dismissing reports that there was no television signal in Murree, Gupta said that he got a call from India and immediately switched the TV on. When he saw the attack in Mumbai, he contacted the senior leadership.

Gupta further said, “As soon as we saw the terror strike, we spoke to whoever had to be spoken. Nobody knew 26/11 would happen.” He termed it a mere “speculation” that their stay was extended because Pakistan knew about 26/11.

However, he did blame Pakistan and its “duplicitous” role in the Mumbai terror attacks. Gupta also rejected the claim that the absence of top officers of internal security at the MHA during the attacks delayed the decision-making process, according to a report by Zee News. “An Under-Secretary from Home Ministry said control room was not manned. Then this was corrected. Information was conveyed that day,” he said.

Gupta further questioned how his physical presence would have changed things during the 26/11 attacks and what purpose would it serve to investigate eight years later.

Shivraj Patil, former Home Minister wants a proof from the people who are claiming that there was a conspiracy to delay Indian officials in Murree.

Responding to reports that the NSG arrived late, Patil said that it was ready within an hour but there was no aircraft. Claiming that law and order is a state subject and the Mumbai police was handling the attacks, he said that they still sent their forces quickly.

 

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Updated Date: Jun 11, 2016 15:10:58 IST