there should be
no loss of life’
J K Dutt, former director of India’s National
Security Guard, tells Vicky Nanjappa about the
toughest operation of his life and more
Three years since 26/11 has the security scenario in India changed?
Firstly, I feel there is a need to enhance the scope of our
anti-terror policy. The recent blasts show that there is a lot
of movement and terror groups are very much active.
We have found that terrorists have been choosing their
targets carefully and also selectively. We need to prevent
this from happening to get a secure nation.
What do you think needs to be done?
There is a great deal of emphasis that needs to be placed
on our intelligence services. They may have had their suc-cesses, but there is more that needs to be done.
I also feel that investigators should think outside the box.
Terrorists seem to rely more on technology and we need a
lot of improvement on that front. Taking the help of private
sectors could be a solution.
Having placed NSG lives on the line of fire, do you feel let
down by the sub-standard investigation carried out by our
I think this is too harsh a statement to make. I would
agree that there needs to be improvement on some fronts.
For instance, the National Investigation Agency needs to
improve. Moreover, investigations in the recent blasts have
not been up to the mark, as they have found no concrete
We have been relying on leads provided by the United
States. This is something that one can the fault the Indian
investigators with. If certain incidents have taken place in
some countries we really cannot blame our investigators for
relying on investigators from other countries.
Coastal security is still not up to the mark. Do you agree?
I have seen a lot of reports in the media regarding what
the government has been doing to enhance coastal security. I wish the government did more to publicize the follow
up on this aspect. They should put into the minds of the
people that the security is tight.
The citizen should have no doubts regarding security.
There is a need not only to enhance security, but also raise
the bar where governance is concerned.
What about the long-drawn judicial process to hang
There are certain aspects to this. If people feel that the
process is long drawn then the government should respond
to their sentiments. Many procedures could be cut off in
such cases so that the case is completed quickly.
Do you still believe that there were only 10 terrorists that
As per my analysis of the situation there were in all 10
terrorists to battle. However, I would not be too sure about
their support system outside or from Pakistan. This is
something that the investigators should speak about. The
brief given to us was to neutralize the 10 terrorists.
Had there been no delay in communication do you think
you could have finished the operation earlier?
This is something that has been spoken about a lot. There
have been longer operations than these in other parts of the
world with fewer terrorists. However, I would not compare
it with any other incident.
I would also not want to blame anyone for this. The only
thing we had in mind on that day was to secure lives. My
objective was clear, there should be no loss of life.
I can say with conviction that after the arrival of the NSG
‘A live terrorist is a hub of
information, which we could have
used against Pakistan. We would
have had more evidence’
there were no innocent lives lost although we lost two of
our brave officers.
Did the terrorists brace up after the NSG arrived on the
Not really. They were more on guard, as one of their calls,
which was intercepted, warned them about the arrival of
the commandos. After this they took their position. We did
not know the number of terrorists when we entered the
scene. We also did not have a proper map.
The map of the hotel provided to us had only squares and
no indication as to what the square even meant. It could
have been a room, a dining hall or a pantry. Hence, it took
us some time to figure all this out. We had to tread with
caution while checking the rooms. However, we got to
know their location and pinned them down.
Earlier it was suggested that the NSG should take up one
building at a time. However, I rejected it. If we had focused
on one building at a time then it would have given the terrorists in the other buildings more time to prepare. I feel
we carried out the operation with very little collateral damage.
Did any of the terrorists attempt a hostage crisis?
One telephone exchange revealed they were trying to do
so. This was intercepted and immediately special measures
were taken to prevent it.
Did you try to get them to surrender?
Each time we asked them to surrender, they hurled
grenades and increased the shooting. I wish we had a negotiator with us. These negotiators understand the behavior
of such persons and are in a better position to manage surrender.
Getting them to surrender meant keeping them alive.
Over $3 million spent on one terrorist is not enough?
Do not look at it that way. A live terrorist is a hub of
information, which we could have used against Pakistan.
We would have had more evidence.