I’ve been reading a lot of explanations for why the train station police might have held their fire. The “armchair debriefings” I’ve read have discussed various theories ranging from the plausible to the pathetic, but all of them have assumed the police were in fact carrying loaded weapons — until this one.
The explanations I’ve read are sometimes more, sometimes less charitable concerning the professionalism and readiness of the Indian police in Mumbai. One blogger has pointed out that recently there was a public outcry in Mumbai that may have created an apprehensive, overly cautious police presence afraid of “doing the wrong thing.”
But dang it, I have to admit I haven’t seen anyone yet ask (much less answer) if the policemen even had bullets in their guns, and it’s a fascinating question. I wish I’d thought of it ;). I’m scouring the earth for more information about that question, as well as the rules of engagement they were operating under. I’ve also read reports that once the terrorists reached the hotel, the Indian commandos had their work cut out for them: they were very worried about killing innocent civilians and unsure of how to distinguish the terrorists from the guests, but that’s a very different situation from the train station.
One place to take up the investigation might be the BBC: they have an article up right now featuring some statements from survivors, one of whom runs a restaurant at the train station and witnessed the carnage:
PAPPU MISHRA, RESTAURATEUR AT VICTORIA TERMINUSI run one of the biggest eateries at Mumbai’s main railway station. On the evening of the attack, I was sitting upstairs tending to my customers when I first spotted two smart-looking young men saunter up to the waiting hall in front of my restaurant. …I saw the men walking up to the railway platform shooting indiscriminately, and people falling like ninepins. They were so calm, composed and brazen. They seemed to have the confidence of those who knew no fear and knew there would be no resistance.
Emphasis mine. Perhaps they knew there would be no resistance because they knew there were no bullets in the policemen’s guns. It would be interesting to contact the Beeb and attempt to ask Pappu Mishra whatever he knows about that. I wonder if anyone on the Indian police force would even admit it? But Mr. Mishra might know…