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Taj eased 'extra' security just before attack

Source: PTI
November 30, 2008 15:39 IST
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It is "ironic" that extra security measures, taken after being warned of a possible terror strike, were eased just before the terrorists assaulted the landmark Taj hotel, Tata group chief Ratan Tata said.

"It's ironic that we did have such a warning, and we did have some measures (for the additional security)," Tata told US news channel CNN from Mumbai.

The over 100-years-old iconic hotel stands mutilated in the financial capital of India after about 60-hour long siege by terrorists who indulged in arson and explosion before being gunned down by National Security Guards on Saturday morning.

Post attack, Tata rued that crisis infrastructure was "woefully poor" and the attacks revealed deficiencies in the law enforcement, especially in areas of crisis response and management.

"We are indignant but not scared," he quipped.

Although he did not elaborate on the additional security measures, Tata felt even these steps could not have prevented the terrorists from entering the hotel.

Speaking to CNN's Fareed Zakaria, he said that "people could not park their cars in the portico, where you had to go through a metal detector" due to the additional security.

".... If I look at what (measures) we had (enacted)... it could not have stopped what took place," Tata said, adding that the attackers did not come through the front door, where additional security measures had been temporarily enacted.

"They did not come through that entrance.. they came from somewhere in the back... they knew what they were doing and they did not go through the front. All of our arrangements were in the front.

"We're indignant, but we're not scared. If there's a view that this has pulled us down, I think it will unite the country that much more," Tata said.

He said he derived those sentiments from members of his staff, who have pledged to stand behind him and restore the Taj to its former grandeur.

"The general manager lost his whole family in one of the fires in the building," Tata said. "I went up to him today and I told him how sorry I was, and he said, 'Sir, we are going to beat this. We are going to build this Taj back into what it was. We're standing with you. We will not let this event take us down.'"

Tata further said, "And that is the feeling that they have, and I have a feeling that that's pretty much echoed throughout the country."
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