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Top-secret 26/11 note that no one wants to see

Top-secret 26/11 note that no one wants to see

Publication: IBNLive.com
Date: November 29, 2011
URL: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/topsecret-2611-note-that-no-one-wants-to-see/206947-3.html

While the Ram Pradhan Committee recommendations have dominated the security discourse in the city post-26/11 assault, it has emerged that a 'confidential note' penned by Ram Pradhan and addressed to then chief minister Ashok Chavan has managed to remain buried under piles of bureaucratic files two-and-a-half years after its submission.

Information available with MiD DAY reveals that apart from the 100-page report on the terror strike, the committee head and former governor had also submitted a letter running into two pages to Chavan, in the absence of then state home minister Jayant Patil.

According to top sources, government functionaries are diffident of even mentioning the document, confining themselves to whispering about it in hushed tones. In fact, not more than a handful of senior bureaucrats in the home department and a few ministers including Ashok Chavan are aware of its existence.

Damning content?

The letter touched on sensitive issues like intelligence gathering and implementation. In the note, the committee had, in strong words, lambasted then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and Principal Secretary (Home) for giving it in writing that they had not received any intelligence input from the Union Home Ministry, when in fact the Ministry had sent seven alerts since 2007, but none were brought to the notice of the officials concerned.

The note also mentioned that the police were not properly equipped and did not have firing practice due to shortage of arms and ammunition, a lapse that eventually put the skids under the then state government. The committee had also observed that there was too much bureaucracy and political interference in the procurement policy for the police, and it had recommended that political meddling be kept to a minimum.

None of these findings were made public. Instead, the state government declared the committee report as a 'classified' document.

When contacted, Ram Pradhan refused to elaborate on the note, saying, "We have submitted the report to the government and have nothing to say."

V Balchandran, a former special secretary of the Cabinet secretariat, who worked closely with Ram Pradhan on the report confirmed to MiD DAY about the note's existence. "There was nothing confidential in the note authored by Pradhan. It was more of a personal note to then chief minister, drawing his attention to the observations made in the letter," he said, adding, "The letter concluded with willingness to discuss the issues in detail with then chief minister, but there was no response thereafter."

Balchandran continued, "Our thrust was only on ensuring systemic improvement. From my long years of intelligence gathering, I had given several recommendations to improve intelligence integration and convey the same to the lowest level in the police."

Asked if the government has put all of the committee's recommendations in practice, Balchandran said only that he has not kept a tab after submitting the report.

Asked if he was aware of the note, the then CM Ashok Chavan said, "I had submitted all the papers received from Ram Pradhan Committee to the government officials concerned and I have no papers in my possession."

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, "I have not seen any such 'confidential note' other than the Action Taken Report submitted by Ram Pradhan. If such a note exists, it may be between two individuals sharing confidential notes without involving the government. Ram Pradhan has not mentioned any such note to me when we met earlier."

He added, "On Monday, I had a review briefing on the Action Taken Report, before the security council meeting is called."

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