Those who planned the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai in 2008 were aware that the Mumbai police is widely regarded as being among the most corrupt in the world. Although all levels of the force are routinely said to accept money in exchange for official favours, a distinction has to be made between juniors and seniors. Harm gets done to the national interest only when the higher rungs of the police become corrupt, which is the case in Mumbai.
Like their counterparts in Colombia or Mexico, many of whom are on the payroll of the narco mafia, too many top policemen in Mumbai are reported to think nothing of accepting money and other gifts from the underworld, including that section which funds and facilitates terror attacks. Just as corruption in the force has helped narco traffickers to use Colombia and Mexico as safe havens for their operations, terror networks in India use their corrupt contacts in the Mumbai police to facilitate their
There is a difference between corruption that causes harm to national security and other types of graft. In an economy and a society at the stage that India is in, it is utopian to visualize a situation when corruption will disappear the way that it has in Finland, Sweden or Norway ( but certainly not in Spain, Italy or France, in each of which large pools of corrupt officials thrive, including at the highest levels).
Hence, the war on corruption must principally target (1) the higher levels of the administrative structure and (2) those forms of graft that immediately impact national security. In the case of Mumbai, this is represented by the senior officers of the police force who accept cash from narco traffickers, even though they are aware that many of them are also associated with terrorist networks operating in India and overseas. Indeed, narcotics and terror go hand-in-hand in South Asia, as the results of the poppy trade in Afghanistan have made clear.
In the case of 26/11, key sources within the security establishment say that at least two senior police officers of Maharashtra state ( of which Mumbai is the capital) have been in the pay of a Dubai-based operator since the middle of the 1990s. They say that this is the reason why the Mumbai accomplices of the 26/11 plotters have escaped detection. Instructions were given from the top to ignore any possible local leads to the conspiracy.
Even in the identification of the external players, almost all the detective work was done by the FBI, with the Indian authorities playing second fiddle. In particular, the grave security lapses by the Mumbai police that allowed the 26/11 terrorists to continue on their destructive path for three days has yet to be addressed. Not a single top official - including those guilty of clear dereliction of duty and worse - has been cashiered. Instead, a few have been promoted and all shielded. The reason behind this is the influence that a certain businessman based in Karachi has over key politicians in the central and state level.
This operator - who may be regarded as a Muhajir, in view of the fact that he has exchanged his Indian passport for Pakistani documents - has more influence over the Mumbai police than Home Secretary G K Pillai, an inoffensive officer who from the goodness of his heart shrinks from administering the harsh punishment needed if wayward officers are to be brought back to the path of rectitude.
Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar - who is the businessman in question - has been known to use unorthodox means to get quality time with his high-level contacts in India. One method is for a contact ( such as a Union Minister) to transit via Dubai on his way to a European destination. By sheer happenstance, and to the delight of the minister, it will be Dawood who gets the seat next to him on the Dubai-Europe flight. Enough time for a detailed discussion on mutual business interests. Other ways include evenings spent together at the hotel rooms of visiting Bollywood starlets,so that the minister can do a few hours of aerobic exercise after discussing business matters with Dawood, who is ever a considerate and generous host.