On Thursday night, officials had claimed the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was safe but on Friday it became the centre of the conflict once again, with furious firefights between the terrorists and the military.
It is pretty bad when you say an area has been cleared and yet you turn around and have major gunfight 24 hours later. It leads credence to this grousing in from another Telegraph article….
A second British official said that, although the India’s Black Cat commandos have a fearsome reputation for efficient antiterrorist operations, their deployment was botched.
“They are supposed to set-up a command centre in complete control as their first priority,” the official said. “Instead they arrived and went in guns blazing.
“It was blind. They didn’t have maps of the hotels, yet there terrorists had done enough reconnaissance to use the service facilities to manoeuvre.”
There was also criticism of a midnight announcement on the first day of the crisis by a cabinet minister that 200 commandos were deployed in the area within two hours.
The British official said: “The terrorist were forewarned by the government itself.”
The whole article is riddled with tales of gross incompetence on the part of the Indian government. The Indian solders and police have demonstrated their bravery, but their leadership left a lot to be desired.
A senior officer in the country’s elite Black Cat commando unit told the Telegraph, the gunmen were able to trawl the internet for information once they lost cable television feeds to the two luxury hotels and office block.
The men looked beyond the instant updates of the Indian media to find worldwide reaction to the events in Mumbai.
Their analysis of at least five BlackBerry mobile phones recovered suggested the terrorists had links to England.
“There was a lot of content from the English media, not just in London but the Urdu and Arabic sites that are very strong in the north of England,” the Commando leader said near the site of the city’s third siege at Nariman House. “We have some analysis started on this and we will pass it on to Scotland Yard, no doubt.”
The availability of news updates and live TV streams from Indian and foreign media is though to have given the hostage takers an advantage in the two day siege. By early yesterday army commanders had realised the extent of the problem.
Lieutenant-General Noble Thamburaj, head of India’s southern command, said: “I want to pay tribute to the brave army and Indian forces who have died but I will not put a figure on it because that will sustain the terrorists.”
As the above story seems to demonstrates, the killers seemed to have better command and control then the Indian government. According to Bill Roggio (h/t The Belmont Club) they had command and control rooms set up ahead of time. So that gave them an advantage that they exploited to the full.
Still, there does not seem to be any good excuse for the Indian’s sloppy command and control.