So it meant they had not come here to leave easily.
At that moment, what did you think it was?
I thought it was a terror attack.
But there are all kinds of terror attacks...
To be very frank with you, till the next day I did not know
they were Pakistanis.
Mr Patil is in charge of that area so he was supposed to be
there. I had gone just like that.
He was slightly shaken up at that time, anyone would be.
(When he saw me at the Taj) he asked me: Please help me
out. I said okay, but I don’t have a pistol or anything with
So I borrowed a revolver and I went inside. We tried to
secure all the cutouts (exits or possible contact points in
police operation parlance) of the ground floor. I thought it
would be a bigger embarrassment if they shot many (more)
people upstairs and come down and quietly walk away.
At least we should secure all the exits so they should not
be able to run away, after what they were done. I blocked all
the entrances and the elevators so they become non-func-tional.
When did you knew they were Pakistani terrorists?
I could not hear them speak. I came to know from my
boss (the next day). I had to inform him, because I was
injured, and he was my boss. So I asked him: Any idea who
Has much changed for Rajvardhan in the five years ince 26/11?
Rajvardhan, who prefers not to use his last name, whose
family hails from Patna, Bihar, though he was schooled at
the Vikas Vidyalaya boarding school in Ranchi, now in
Jharkhand, came to Maharashtra in 1999.
After stints — pre-26/11 — at Gadchiroli, that left its
parting mark in the form of a long slash across his face; at
Malegaon, during the Hindu-Muslim riots; at Nashik,
where he was partially credited with the 2006 Aurangabad
arms haul (AK-47s and RDX to be used in a Mumbai
attack, that did not happen, according to the Indian
Express), the police officer, today concentrates on financial
His attention is now focused on cases like the National
Spot Exchange suit (a Rs 56 billion/$950 million payout
scam), the SpeakAsia case (an Internet fraud scam) and
understanding what he terms “how white collar criminals
operate” and expanding his professional skill base.
His manner, as he speaks, is very low key; he chooses his
words carefully, thoughtfully, but does not evade a question.
The scar inside him after 26/11 is much larger than
wound on his face.
It is second nature for him now to ask a security man at a
mall to remember to please check him, or to point out to
hotel security men where their security is lax.
Seeing the surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab, during the
course of the crime branch investigation, he says, had no
emotional effect on him.
“I felt nothing. The way you feel for a criminal. Not much
more.” Kasab was a foot soldier in the operation, but that
did not take away from him the conscience that any human
being has to tell him what is right and what is wrong, feels
What have you learned from 26/11? Any fears?
Professionally, I have learned that terror can come in any
shape. We can’t give it a particular name of religion, color,
community or creed. It can adapt to circumstances and
come (in another form).
Secondly, I have learned that we have to always emphasize the importance of training and learning. I always
emphasize to our men to not get lax and to have systems in
place, where we can respond if an attack comes.
If we are not able to prevent it, we need to be able to
ensure it is localized, and it ends smoothly and very fast.
On a personal level I have learned, that when such kinds
of crises come, I personally don’t, at that point of time, feel
that I am scared.
In the attack that took place five years ago, there was a cer-
tain daring with which ten people arrived on a boat from
Pakistan and walked into the city. In your view, can 10 peo-
ple still land in Mumbai again and start a ‘war’ of terror?
I will not say 100 percent anything is not possible. If I say
100 per cent not possible, then I am lax. Because then I feel
the system is perfect and there is no scope of improvement.
After (2008) there have been systems put in place in the
coastal security arena, where there are checks and bal-
ances, now making what happened in 2008 extremely dif-
ficult to do again, especially in the city of Mumbai. Because
so many other agencies have got (into the picture) — be it
the Coast Guard. Be it the Navy.
There are systems in place. For example:
Numbering of fishing vessels, registering them, giving them a particular color, so they can be identified
from far, giving them a biometric card etc.
So as a citizen, you feel 50 per cent safer?
Or more than that?
At least that, not less than that, yes.
Do we have a system of the perception of a threat?
We don’t still have a system of picking up the dead or
If you see photographs of the Patna blast last
month the dead and wounded are being carted off
on people’s shoulders like sacks of potatoes. I understand we have limitations. We don’t have a society
like Israel. But haven’t we learned anything?
You are absolutely correct, as far as the citizens’
perspective is concerned.
But as a police officer working in a system I have
seen what all internally has changed within the
police after 26/11 happened.
SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) are in
place defining the role of each and every person.
There have been lots and lots of practice on the
ground. Special Forces have developed. All this happened post 26/11. Coastal security has become an
area we have identified (that needs work) which is
We are trying to harden the targets. We have so
many soft targets. Hardening of even one of them in
itself becomes a challenge…
I give you an example: If you go by all the alerts
that have come, including the targets (tracked
down) by David Headley, there are more than 115
targets, only in Mumbai city. There could be more.
Even if you try to harden all those targets, every
day new targets are coming up. Now you have to
add all these new hotels and restaurants.
Were these SOPs in place at the time of the subse-
quent 2011 blasts at Dadar and Opera House?
… Yes. Everybody (members of the police force)
knew who has to be where, who they were to report
to. Every Tom, Dick and Harry was not rushing to
the spot. They were simultaneously hardening the
targets in their respective areas, which were identified, manning them, checking them.
There was a team knowing that they have to go (to the
blast sites) and secure the perimeter, so the investigation
can begin. Yes, I have seen that it has happened.
Can you quantify what percentage of change there has
been in police preparedness? If say we were at 25 to 30 per
cent then, where are we now?
If you give it on a scale of one to ten I think we are somewhere around five now. We have a lot to do.
Where were we then pre-26/11 in 2008?
We were somewhere around two.
Some critical areas where we need to be developing more
is the area of prevention, to prevent.
For that you need an atmosphere where you have intelligence and a better system where you can gather intelligence and properly analyze that intelligence and execute
But intelligence-wise also, (I know) things are being
taken very seriously. Even small, small alerts are being pursued.
…If citizen wants a good police force then citizens will
have to first ensure that the police is legally kept impartial.
The police is empowered enough to enforce the rule of law,
the way its powers have been enshrined in the Constitution
of India. I am talking about police reforms, which is a subject in the Supreme Court…
Is the greatest threat to preventing the reoccurrence of
26/11 the honesty of the police force? In some areas the
police is very effective (bar raids and rave parties) but that is
because of the incentive of money. Would you not say hon-
Mumbai police personnel outside Chabad House, Mumbai,
November 27, 2008.
come in any
We can’t give it a