Police instructions led to more deaths in Mumbai attack

The Taj Mahal on fire during the attack
The Taj Mahal on fire during the attack

Guests trapped in a Mumbai hotel seized by gunmen last month have told the BBC they were given instructions by police that may have led to more people dying.

A survivor who had been hiding at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel said some guests were shot and killed by the militants after police said it was safe to leave.

The senior policeman in charge of the operation in the hotel has denied the allegations against his officers.

The attacks left at least 173 people dead, including nine of the 10 gunmen.

India blames Pakistan-based militants Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for the 26 November attacks.

LeT and the Pakistani government have denied any involvement.

Two of the hotels caught up in the attacks, the Trident-Oberoi and Taj Mahal Palace, are to re-open on Sunday.

Armed guards and sniffer dogs have been stationed at both hotels and X-ray machines are to screen guests’ bags.


A prominent Mumbai gynaecologist, Dr Prashant Mangeshikar, was trapped in the Taj Mahal hotel along with hundreds of other guests as gunmen stormed into the building, firing indiscriminately.

Terrified, he and others barricaded themselves into a room and waited.

Eventually, in the early hours of the morning, police officers made it through to where they were hiding and told people it was safe to leave the hotel because the gunmen were cornered on another floor.

Some went ahead but Dr Mangeshikar held back.

“I was a little suspicious that the police were actually sending these guys down a different route where the terrorists were supposed to be,” he told the BBC’s Adam Mynott.

“I refused to move away and the people who ran ahead of me, about 20 or 30 of them, all of them died.”

A dress designer from the city says her aunt was shot dead and her cousin seriously wounded because they followed police instructions to try to leave.

The designer, Shilpa, described the police conduct as disgraceful.

They had no right, she said, to risk people’s lives.

Hotels re-open

The senior policeman in charge of the operation in the hotel has denied these allegations against his officers.

But they add to growing criticism of the police and how they responded to the attack, says our correspondent.

The government of India’s Maharashtra state has already announced an investigation into two senior policemen over alleged failure to act on warnings of the attacks.

India’s interior minister and Maharashtra state chief minister have already resigned.

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari said claims that the sole surviving attacker had been identified by his own father as coming from Pakistan had not been proven. The man has been named as Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab and is in Indian police custody.
Source: BBC

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