What could be worse than not having enough sophisticated arms to take on the terrorists of 26/11?
The answer: having all the AK-47s that were needed, but not the keys to the armoury. A year after the audacious terror attacks — where brave officers of the Mumbai police faced and fought terrorists with archaic .303 rifles and lathis — DNA learns the force had as many as 247 AK-47 assault rifles. But they were all under lock and key in police stations across the city.
According to a senior police officer, all the AK-47s were indeed available with the Mumbai police on the night of 26/11, "but, surprisingly, only a few were available during the terror attacks".
The only AK-47 to get used was the one owned by slain additional commissioner of police Ashok Kamte, who shot and injured either Ajmal Kasab or Ismail Khan (or both) near Cama Hospital. "Other than Kamte, a few officers of the Mumbai crime branch, the Anti-Terrorism Squad and the quick response teams were carrying AK-47 rifles with them," the officer confirmed, but they didn't get to use these arms.
"The Colaba police station, under whose jurisdiction the Taj, Leopold's Cafe and Nariman House fell, had as many as four AK-47s in its armoury. But none of the senior officers issued orders to retrieve the assault rifles from the armoury," the officer added.
The other AK-47s were similarly locked up in various police stations across the city.
The big question: why didn't the top brass in the police force seek these AK-47s when they knew that Mohammed Ajmal Kasab and his nine co-terrorists were armed with Kalashnikovs?
Blame it on procedure. "At the time of 26/11, there was a procedure in place under which an AK-47 could be requisitioned only if a written permission was given by an officer not below the rank of deputy commissioner of police," the officer informed.
Unfortunately, none of the senior officials of the Mumbai police had bothered to issue orders to remove the AK-47s from the police stations, leaving officers on the field to defend themselves with their archaic .303 rifles, self-loading rifles, service revolvers and lathis.