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PM, team formulate response to Mumbai attack

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | December 04, 2008 20:57 IST

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] was "concerned for safety of people trapped" when the terrorists attacked Mumbai on November 26, according to a source in the Prime Minister's Office.

He says that as the more details came out of the horrific nature of the attacks he was livid over the failure of the system he is presiding over.

When asked why there is deafening silence even after seven days from the PMO except for Dr Singh's short address to the nation, the source said that the PM takes steps only when he is sure of what he is doing.

If sources are to be believed, Dr Singh is aware of the anger against him and other political leaders by the people on roads. His supporters say Dr Singh will speak once the entire machinery dealing with security matters comes up with a coherent policy.

A source in government said there is no point saying something that could be rebuked by Pakistan.

This is not time to score points but to do things in national interest, the source said.

Many experts who know Dr Singh's style of functioning claim that it's not good diplomacy to alienate powerful countries like the US, UK and EU when their full sympathy is with India.

In this critical time, Deepak Sandhu, principal information officer, has resigned from her job and has joined the PMO as media advisor.

She told that she will start interacting with media only next week. Being a bureaucrat throughout her career she is expected to go by the rule book.

The entire machinery dealing with internal and external security in the PMO and in the government is working on ideas and proposals. The National Security Advisor's office is supported by National Security Council secretariat and National Security Advisory Board. They are preparing a strategy to help government formulate a response to the Mumbai attack.

Also, under Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar many groups are working and preparing steps to be taken to strengthen internal security. One group is going into detail on how to strengthen railway security. Another group is taking stock of civil aviation security including airports. One group of advisors are looking into security aspect of infrastructure including roads and bridges. There are two groups separately looking into ports and maritime security. All these reports will form the basis of the prime minister plan to strengthen the internal security.

Defence services and the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing are also separately preparing their suggestions in view of the Mumbai attack.

Importantly, this time India is likely to take the advice of international experts.

What has been found most shocking is that just ten terrorists could hold two sprawling hotels and Nariman House for nearly three days. In New Delhi [Images], out of the current deliberations the most common emerging view is that there seems to be no alternative but to train local police to make them fit and ready for battles like this. A section of local police will be given commando type world-class training. The standard approach procedures of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other western police forces are being studied.

It seems that Dr Singh is likely to unveil his views on India's response to Mumbai attack probably after the state election results on December 8. One view is that he may address a national press conference.  

His colleague points out that Dr Singh is unlikely to speak in haste. As in case of Natwar Singh's resignation, in case of Left parties views on Indo-US nuclear deal or on other serious matters he took his time but then he stood by his own decisions. 

One is sure Dr Singh knows that in politics, time is the king.

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