‘We are yet to build a security
culture in our country’
injured and so many of them probably still need
Sidharth has indeed moved on, but what bothers
him is the ease with which India’s leaders and
security agencies have put 26/11 behind them.
Sidharth rues nothing much has been done to
right the wrong, other than “lip service”.
Ajmal Kasab, who was caught after he killed
many people that night, is today the most protected man in Mumbai. The real masterminds of 26/11
— terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur Rehman
Lakhvi — have still not been prosecuted, he says.
“Only blaming Pakistan or others will not help
us. We need to be prepared inside the country,
have a security culture. The government has to
send out a message to the terrorists that we are
ready to tackle them. It also needs to tell us what
is being done to enhance our security. As a country, we need to learn to protect ourselves,”
Citing the example of the 13/7 serial blasts that
claimed 23 lives in Mumbai, he says, “Someone
just wanted to plant the bombs. Till date, in spite
of so many terror strikes, we have not installed
CCTVs in crowded areas that are likely to be
Sidharth raises a pertinent question: What are
the steps taken by the authorities to deter terror-
ists and their ungodly plans against the people of
India? Greater transparency about the govern-
ment’s anti-terror plan will not only assure the cit-
izens, it will also send out a dire warning to the
plotters of terror, he says.
That night, he remembers, the police were “
under-prepared” to deal with the situation. The public
deserves to know why there was a delay in getting
the National Security Guard, he says.
“Had they come earlier, some more people could
have been saved,” he believes.
He hails the courage of the NSG men who rescued hostages
trapped inside the hotel.
“It is not easy to be in the line of fire. It is their job but that
doesn’t make it any less brave,” he says.
Memories of that day haunt him at times admits Sidharth,
but adds that the experience has made him stronger.
“It has given me a different perspective on life. I don’t get
bothered by small things. A lot of issues pale in comparison,”
he explains. “I could see and hear people dying around us. It
was a horrific end for people around me — many of them
rich and powerful. It was a humbling experience.”
A candlelight vigil in memory of 26/11 victims in Mumbai
As Sidharth Tyagi waited for his bill at the restaurant at a five-star hotel in Mumbai two terrorists stormed in and started firing at the people inside. It was the
unforgettably horrific night of November 26, 2008.
In the ensuing mayhem and confusion, Sidharth and
some of the other diners ran upstairs. But they couldn’t go
very far. The terrorists soon caught up with them on the
staircase. The two terrorists first separated the men and the
women. They rounded up the men and then, as Sidharth
puts it, “executed them”. The women were killed a few
ligence agencies to the state about a possible attack on 26/11, specifically mentioning
sea-borne terrorists. Neither did the federal government follow up nor did the state
put enough measures — both restricted by
capacity and skill.
One solution is to introduce a separate
ministry for internal security. The ministry
can then work directly with nodal officers
in the state for sharing intelligence.
A second approach is to introduce a cen-
The architecture for securing lives
tral organization for fighting terrorism. The
United States has done this by establishing
the National Counter-Terrorism Center. In
India, the Intelligence Bureau doesn’t have
the mandate, and thus no arms or training,
and the recently created National
Investigation Agency is a body responsible
for investigating cases, and thus reactive.
The federal government has set up eight of
the 20 planned Counter Insurgency and
Anti-Terrorist schools but the focus of these
schools is to train for operations in India’s
Naxal regions as opposed to internationally
linked terrorist groups in the country. A
national center for fighting terrorism seems
the logical next step.
By arrangement with Gateway House