There is a difference of five minutes in the timings recorded for the firing behind Cama hospital during the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which claimed the lives of three senior police officers. The timing of the firing given by the police to the wife of slain IPS officer Ashok Kamte after her Right to Information (RTI) query is 23.53 hours, while the time mentioned in the chargesheet filed by the Mumbai police in the 26/11 terror attack case is 23:48 hours.
Maharashtra State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad has highlighted the discrepancies in timings and failure of the Mumbai Police to preserve the hard disk of the voice logger, which recorded the conversation between police officers on the night of the 26/11 attack.
In an order passed on July 9, Gaikwad raised doubts on whether Mumbai police Commissioner Rakesh Maria was trying to hide information about the 26/11 attacks by withholding and providing misleading information about the call logs of wireless conversations between the police control room and Kamte’s van on the day of his death. He had also asked the state government to institute a commission to inquire why misleading information was provided.
Documents accessed by The Indian Express show that in reply to an RTI query filed by Kamte’s wife Vinita, the Mumbai police provided her with details of call logs in November 2009. These logs listed the first report of firing at St Xavier’s College, where Kamte and the three officers were killed, at 23:53 hours. Yet another RTI reply to Kamte in February 2010 makes no reference to any incident at 23:53 hours. However, the Mumbai police’s chargesheet filed in the 26/11 case lists the timing at 23:48 hours, five minutes earlier than what Kamte had been told.
There is a difference even in the time mentioned in two RTI replies to the query on when the first Quick Response Team was sent to provide help to the three martyred officers. In the first RTI reply given to Vinita, the time is stated to be 23:53 hours. The second RTI reply states the time at 23:52 hours, while the police chargesheet states the time as 23:48 hours.
The state blamed the discrepancy in the timings given to Kamte through RTI on constables who were drafting the transcripts.
However, the state has failed to explain to Vinita why there was such a glaring time difference in the first RTI reply and the Mumbai Police’s chargesheet.
“They are yet to explain how there was a difference in the time given to me and the time listed in the chargesheet,” Vinita said.
Vinita’s lawyer Dhairyasheel Patil, representing her before the State Information Commission, pointed out that there were serious discrepancies in the time given by the police, which was suspicious.
“There is a huge disparity of up to six minutes in the timings of the incidents that took place on 26/11. The original hard disk of the voice logger has not been retained. There seems to be large-scale manipulations in the call records for some unknown reason,” Patil has been referred to have said according to the proceedings listed by the SCIC.
Gaikwad took cognisance of all the questions raised by Vinita and her counsel. He said there were serious doubts about manipulation being done.
“It would be improper to say that the questions raised by Vinita about the information provided to her are incorrect. It is questionable why in such a serious incident the voice logger with the hard disk was not preserved. Also, how can it be said that there was no manipulation when a CD was created from the original video logger,” Gaikwad said in his order.
Gaikwad also said the government had stated that information on the hard drive was only saved for a specific period of time and after that it was automatically destroyed. Vinita has raised an issue on how the hard disk documenting an incident of such grave magnanimity could be overwritten.
“It was said that the memory was stored for a limited period and that an expert opinion of a manufacturer would be presented before the Commission. However, it has been almost two weeks now and no such opinion has been presented before us,” Gaikwad said.
Maria refused to comment, saying the police would file a reply with the state CIC.