New Delhi: Breaking his silence on latest revelations relating to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, former Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta on Saturday said that the reports on top MHA officials partying in Pakistan’s Murree during the strike are nothing but mere speculation.
“I don’t know why reports are saying that we were holidaying in Murree hill station. All the MHA officials stayed at Murree for few hours because hosts had made arrangements,” Madhukar Gupta told ANI.
Defending his Cabinet colleagues on allegations that they extended their stay in Pakistan’s ‘no-signal zone’ Murree while Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists were attacking Mumbai, Gupta said, “As soon as we came to know about the terror strike, we spoke to whoever had to be spoken. Nobody knew 26/11 would happen. I was in constant touch with people back in India when the disaster struck. What are we trying to prove going into speculation eight years later? It is speculation whether our stay was extended because they (Pakistan) knew about 26/11. We had no inkling.”
Gupta, who had led the Indian delegation to Islamabad, doubted Pakistan’s intention as he said, “We felt a little odd as well, why were they (Pakistan’s MHA officials) accommodating us in Murree? The 26/11 attacks in Mumbai clearly depicted duplicitous role of Pakistan and this is not for the first time that such incidents had happened..”
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. “An under-secretary from the Home Ministry said that the control room was not manned in our absence. Then this was corrected. Information was conveyed that day. All kinds of things were said. For example, NSG arrived late. How could that have changed with my physical presence?
It is inaccurate that there was no signal in Murree. I got a call from India, who informed me about the attacks and told me to switch on the television.”
On Thursday, a report on Times Now news channel claimed that nine top Intel bosses were taken to Murree to ‘no network zone’ to ensure that India’s MHA control room was empty during the horrific 26/11 attacks. According to the channel, India was tricked into extending talks by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), so that the Pakistan-based terror group could finish its task in Mumbai.
The then Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta and his team had arrived in Islamabad on November 24, 2008, for the talks that were part of the eight-subject composite dialogue process. The team was to return home on November 26, but the Pakistani government extended their stay by a day.