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The Rediff Interview/Major General R K Hooda

'You believe in your army'

November 27, 2008

The man heading the military operations against the terrorists in Mumbai is Major General R K Hooda, General Officer Commanding, Maharashtra, Goa [Images] and Gujarat.

The general has been running from the Trident to the Taj to Nariman House, ensuring that all the terrorists are either caught or killed without India suffering any more casualties.

Prasanna D Zore and Syed Firdaus Ashraf asked the general how the Indian Army [Images] and the National Security Guard is dealing with the situation.

The terrorists are firing non-stop from the Trident. Do you think there will be casualties in such a situation?

Firing happens when we face them. No militant wants to waste his arms and ammunition. The time firing takes place is when there is a face to face encounter. The only possiblity of innocent people getting trapped is when they come in between the cross-fire of the militant and our men.

How many people have been freed so far?

At the Trident 49 people have been rescued since (Thursday) morning. We are trying to rescue many more. At the Taj, 50 people were inside. They had shut themselves in. We felt they were captive. They were not hostages because when we reached, the militants had already left that place. Besides that, throughout the day we have taken out 350 to 400 people from the Taj who were waiting for help from us.

There is a report that the terrorists are from Hyderabad.

This is one of the intercepts we got (from intelligence). But when they speak their language has a more Punjabi kind of tone.

The Deccan Mujahideen [Images] has claimed responsibility for these terror attacks.

One mujahid has been caught. He has been injured. We are interrogating him. From his language, as I told you, he has a Punjabi kind of accent. They are from across the border, perhaps from Faridkot, Pakistan. They tried to pretend that they are from Hyderabad. One terrorist has been killed so far at the Trident; there are perhaps five to six more holed up in the Trident.

How many terrorists are there?

There are 10 to 12 terrorists all over. You believe in us and your army. And be confident that we will do a successful operation. There are NSG commandos here and that is their job. They are experts in it.

Don't ask for a deadline. It is very difficult to say in such cases. Nobody can say at this time. The NSG has three teams. One who storm, then the ones who plant explosives, and the third who search. The bomb disposal squad guys are there. In one team there are at least 80 to 90 people. Right now, there are nearly 300 NSG forces on this operation. Five army columns are also on the job. We have also called an army column from Pune and Deolali. They are there to relieve each other.


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