Modi Claims “UPA Took No Action After 26/11”, But Is That True?
The prime minister appears to have forgotten the heightened tensions between the two countries after the attacks.
The prime minister appears to have forgotten the heightened tensions between the two countries after the attacks.(Photo: Kamran Akhter/The Quint)

Modi Claims “UPA Took No Action After 26/11”, But Is That True?

On 1 March, Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that while his government had taken action after Uri and Pulwama attacks, the same could not be said of the previous UPA government, which faced the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Speaking in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari, PM Modi said:

“26/11 happened, India expected action against terrorists but nothing happened. Uri happened and you saw what our brave men did. Pulwama happened and you saw what our brave men did. I salute all those who are serving the nation. Their vigilance keeps our nation secure.”

But the prime minister appears to have forgotten the heightened tensions between the two countries after the attacks, the UPA government's resolute stance behind Kasab's hanging and the diplomatic  pressure that forced Pakistan to take action against the other identified accused in the attacks.

Also Read : UPA Blocked Surgical Strike After 26/11: PM Modi Lauds Air Strikes

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Escalated Tensions, Fear of a War

Soon after the terror strikes, the Ministry of External Affairs had summoned the then Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik to lodge protest over their failure to curb terrorism, and issued a demarche to him on the strikes.

In another demarche submitted by the Indian High Commissioner to the Pakistan foreign office, then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee demanded that they hand over 20 terrorists, including Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim.

Mukherjee, in an interview to NDTV, further indicated that the country had “not ruled out the option of military strikes against terrorist camps in Pakistan.”

At an informal lunch in Pakistan in December 2008, US Senator John McCain warned Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani of an Indian air strike if they failed to act swiftly in the case, adding that this was PM Manmohan Singh's message, relayed via him.

Later that month, Pakistan resorted to deploying fighter jets over several major cities as a pre-emptive measure as tensions escalated. India reciprocated by deploying aircraft along the western border.

On 24 December, PK Barbora, the air officer commanding-in-chief of Western Air Command said the IAF had "earmarked 5,000 targets in Pakistan." However, a day later, PM Manmohan Singh, at a top-level security meeting made it clear that "nobody wanted war."

Action Against Accused Terrorists

While nine of the ten terrorists were killed in the crossfire that occurred over the attacks in 2008, the tenth terrorist – Ajmal Kasab – was executed on 21 November 2012. Kasab's execution was the first in eight years, and took place after a clemency petition was rejected by the then President Pranab Mukherjee.

Over the course of their interrogation of Kasab prior to his execution, investigating officials were able to establish the Lashkar-e-Taiba's involvement, as well as that of Pakistan state's. The Indian government sent over a dossier of evidence to Pakistan in January 2009, incidentally in the same week as when the latter finally admitted that Kasab was indeed their citizen.

The dossier, meanwhile, had details of the attackers’ identities, transcripts of phone-call intercepts, photographs of materials discovered and Kasab’s confession.

The dossier also demanded that Pakistan hand over the conspirators so they could face trial in India, and also "comply with its promise to stop terrorist activities on its soil."

In November 2009, seven suspects were arrested in Pakistan in connection with the Mumbai attacks, including Zakkir-ur-Rehman Lakvi, who was alleged to be the mastermind behind the attacks. The suspects were charged with acts of terrorism, supplying funds and providing tools. Lakhvi, however, was released on bail in 2015 after the Lahore High Court held that there was not enough evidence against him.

Meanwhile, a botched plot to target Danish cartoonists led the US authorities to nab David Headley, one of the conspirators in the Mumbai attacks, in Chicago in 2009. He was accused of scouting for target locations in the Mumbai attacks.

Subsequently, over a 34-hour-long interrogation with NIA officials in 2010, Headley confessed to the involvement of the Pakistan spy agency Inter Services Intelligence.

According to the 110-page report of the interrogation, Headley revealed details of meetings between ISI officials and senior militants in the LeT. Headley was eventually sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 by a Chicago court.

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