Call Log Records of 26/11 Tampered?


Coming out hard on Mumbai police, the State Chief Information Commission has directed Maharashtra government to set up a Commission headed by a judge, to probe charges of tampering call records during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack

Vinita Kamte, who had gone in second appeal over the discrepancy over two sets of the same call log records pertaining to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, in which her husband Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte was killed, received some relief, as the State Chief Information Commission (SCIC) order has made some ‘uncomfortable’ observations about Mumbai Police. Ratnakar Gaikwad, the chief of SCIC using powers under Right to Information (RTI) Act Section 19(8) C, also directed Maharashtra Government to institute an Enquiry Commission under a judge into charges of tampering call log records of 26/11.

Just to reiterate, a call log record is a record of the conversation between the Police Control Room and Police officers/ constables on the ground, during riots and terror attacks. These minutes of conversations are tape recorded as well as hand written by the constables of the Control Room and are maintained as crucial records in the minute-to-minute chronological events that unfolded.

Vinita Kamte’s husband, Additional Commissioner of Police, late Ashok Kamte, was killed by terrorists in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, along with ATS Chief Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar. Mrs Kamte had on 4 March 2009 invoked the Right to Information (RTI) Act. She filed the RTI to procure call log records of two days – 26th and 27th November 2008 to make attempts to find out what led to their death, since she was getting no answers from the Mumbai Police and the Home Ministry.

Vinita Kamte had asked for the following information pertaining to call log records (wireless), written transcripts and Audio:

Time period:26/11/2008 from 9am to 27/11/2008 till 12 noon.

1. Main Control room (call logs – written transcription and audio)

2. Written transcripts and audio of conversation between East Control Region and South Control Region and Main Control

3. Written transcription and audio of conversation on mobile Walkie Talkie sets of Motorola & Ericsson, belonging to Ashok Kamte, which was seized on 27.11.2008 from the Pydhonie police jeep

4. Written transcription and audio of conversation between Walkie Talkies belonging to Jaywant Patil (East Region) with any region (East Region), South Region/Main Control Room.

Vinita got her required information, based on which she wrote the book “To the last bullet” co-authored by this writer. She got the information under RTI only after the then SCIC, Suresh Joshi, in November 2009, ordered the Mumbai police to do so.

Subsequently, she had also asked for the call log records of the police number 100. When she received the same, she was shocked to note that the Public Information Officer (PIO), by oversight perhaps, sent her records on 100, and another set of the same call log records, which she had earlier procured under RTI. The second set of the South Control region call log records showed different timings in the minute to minute happenings, compared to the first set of records which were given to her. Such discrepancies are crucial to the truth as they are minute-by-minute recordings, in this case pertaining to the Rang Bhavan lane incident, which progressed to the death of the three officers.

The third set of the same call log records that were submitted in the charge sheet of Ajmal Kasab, also with different timings than the other two (but she did not mention this as Kasab’s case was not yet over). Meaning, there have been two occasions of tampering of the original call log records of South Mumbai control, raising eyebrows as the intent seems to be very suspicious. It is such a serious matter, but has been warded off through a bunch of lies and deliberate negligence by the Mumbai Police in their responses to Vinita Kamte, the RTI applicant as well as to the SCIC.

When Vinita Kamte, invoked the RTI Act on 3 March 2009, she had to file a first appeal on 29 April 2009 after she was denied information by the PIO, Mumbai Police. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) directed that she can only inspect files and hear the audioconversation at the PIO office but cannot get a copy of the CD or Photostat copies of the written manuscript, although she has the right under RTI. She then knocked the door of the SCIC, who ordered that she be given the documents.

However, her second tryst with the SCIC was regarding the discrepancy in the two sets of the call log records (the third one being in the charge sheet of Kasab, which she did not mention to the SCIC).

After a series of orders since 2009, which showed the casual attitude of the top brass of the Mumbai police, SCIC Ratnakar Gaikwad finally asked the Chief Secretary to institute a commission of Inquiry under a serving or a retired judge, on 9 July 2014. His orders states this inquiry is necessary as there have been evidences of tampering with the call log records and in the process destroyed information with malicious intent.

This strong order has come as a relief to Vinita Kamte, although we will have to wait and see the response of the State Government.

While Gaikwad has stated in the order that he has given directions for the setting up of the Inquiry commission under Section 19 (8), following were the sequence of events after Vinita asked for the above information in 2009:

• Vinita Kamte was only permitted to inspect the manuscripts and the audio of the Call log records by visiting the assistant commissioner’s office and was not permitted to have copies of the same

• Kamte went into second appeal on 21 August 2009 at the SCIC and raised the point that she be given information (copies of written and audio of the call log records) and not mere inspection, as per her RTI application on 3 March 2009 and to revise the reply given by the first appellate authority.

• Vinita argued that information has been denied to her by the PIO as per the directions of the then Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime), Rakesh Maria, who was the in-charge of the Control Room during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. The control room, through these conversations, was aware of the whereabouts of Ashok Kamte, Hemant Karkare and other officers who were martyred. The officers had requested for help from the Control room, through their wireless phones, which was headed by Mr Maria. However, by making the mistake of not sending the required help, the Mumbai Police showed criminal negligence and irresponsibility resulting in the death of the police officers. It is because of this reason that PIO was being prevented from providing information.

• As per the First Appellate Authority’s order of 5 May 2009 that permitted Vinita to only inspect the audio and written manuscripts, she and her colleague were denied inspection under false pretexts.  On 9th and 24th June 2009, she wrote an official complaint to Additional Police Commissioner (Law & Order) who asked her to inspect the files between 11am and 5pm on 20 June 2009. However, this too came with a rider that she cannot record or take out copies of the information.

• Vinita and her colleague went for file inspection on 29th and 30 August 2009. There was a discrepancy in the timings of the audio recording and the written transcripts

• Vinita went into second appeal and submitted that, “both call log records pertain to the same channel, i.e South Channel; there ought not to have been any difference between the two copies as both ought to have been the identical copies of the original call log register. In view of the material discrepancies, the Mumbai Police ought to state as to which out of the two said documents (two call log records) furnished to me under RTI Act, was the authentic one. It is thus evident that the public information officers, knowingly gave incorrect and misleading information to me and it is in these circumstances, that I have lodged the present complaint.

• “… prior to furnishing me with the information under the RTI Act, the said call record of South region was already included in the charge sheet filed in the criminal case (Ajmal Kasab’s case). It is submitted that after coming to know that the call log records have been included in the charge sheet…when the call log records included in the charge sheet was compared with the said two copies of call log records received by me, I was shocked to know that there was a considerable difference in respect of the timings and events even in the call log records included in the charge sheet and the two sets received by me. … when I lodged the present complaint,, the 26/11 case was going on and therefore the facts in respect of the call log records filed in the charge sheet was not included by me at the time of filing the present complaint”

• “…respondents (Mumbai Police) be put to strict notice to explain and state which of the three call log records produced by them is authentic and correct. It is incomprehensible as to how there could be three different records which differ in timings and incidents/acts.”

• “…it is necessary to inquire and investigate and fix responsibility on the persons responsible for creating false records and for producing /furnishing false call log records to me, and appropriate action be taken against all such concerned persons.”

• On 18 April, 2013, the SCIC ordered that it is necessary to know that the information is not tampered with and so Additional Commissioner (law and order) should conduct an inquiry and give hearing to the relevant officer and Vinita Kamte, and send the report without fail by 20 May 2013. Thereafter the Additional Police Commissioner (crime) would be called for hearing under Section 18.  The report submitted to the SCIC by Mumbai Police in the required time, defended the discrepancies under the pretext that the earlier copy given to Vinita Kamte was a Xerox copy and did not bear the stamp of certification. However, the handwriting did not match in a few places and the timings written by hand also did not match in many places says Vinita Kamte – some with a difference of even six minutes

• Vinita Kamte in her letter countered that the reasons given by the police were “erroneous”. She requested the SCIC to discard the police report and conduct fresh inquiry.

• The SCIC sent an order to Additional Chief Secretary on 19 November 2013 to submit a report, instead the officer simply forwarded the letter for an inquiry report on 1 December 2013 to the Police Commissioner. The SCIC was compelled to institute an inquiry on 21 March 2014, states the Order and asked Additional Police Commissioner Amitabh Ranjan, Rakesh Maria, then Additional Commissioner (Crime); Vivek Phansalkar, ACP (Admin); Dhananjay Kamlakar, ACP (law and order); Sanjay Barjund, ACP; and Mr Mukne, ACP. Subsequently though, two lawyers represented the police officers, who did not bother to personally appear before the Commission. Shockingly, the lawyers representing Mumbai Police belittled the issue of tampering of call log records at the 6th June hearing.

• Finally, Ratnakar Gaikwad gave an order on 9 July 2014, for institution of commission of inquiry under a serving or retired judge.

Let’s wait and watch.

(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart – Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.) (Courtesy:


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