Mumbai Under Siege

Mumbai Under Siege
Yoginder Sikand

“O ye who believe! stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.”

(The Quran, Surah Al-Maida: 8)

Numerous theories are doing the rounds about the dastardly terrorist assault on Mumbai. The dominant view, based on what is being suggested by the media, is that this is the handiwork of the dreaded Pakistan-based self-styled Islamist and terrorist outfit Lashkar-e Tayyeba, which, ever since it was ostensibly proscribed by the Government of Pakistan some years ago, has adopted the name of Jamaat ud-Dawah. This might well be the case, for the Lashkar has been responsible for numerous such terrorist attacks in recent years, particularly in Kashmir.

The Lashkar is the military wing of the Markaz Dawat wal Irshad, an outfit floated by a section of the Pakistani Ahl-e Hadith, a group with close affiliations to the Saudi Wahhabis. It has its headquarters at the town of Muridke in the Gujranwala district in Pakistani Punjab. The Markaz was established in 1986 by two Pakistani university professors, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Zafar Iqbal. They were assisted by Abdullah Azam, a close aide of Osama bin Laden, who was then associated with the International Islamic University in Islamabad. Funds for setting up the organization are said to have come from Pakistan’s dreaded official secret services agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). From its inception, it is thus clear, the Lashkar had the support of the Pakistani establishment.

The Lashkar started out as a paramilitary organisation to train warriors to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Soon it spawned dozens of camps across Pakistan and Afghanistan for this purpose. Militants produced at these centres have played a major role in armed struggles, first in Afghanistan, and then in Bosnia, Chechenya, Kosovo, the southern Philippines and Kashmir.

Like other radical Islamist groups, the Lashkar sees Islam as an all-embracing system. It regards Islam as governing all aspects of personal as well as collective life, in the form of the shariah. For the establishing of an Islamic system, it insists, an ‘Islamic state’ is necessary, which will impose the shariah as the law of the land. If, the official website of the Lashkar announces, such a state were to be set up and all Muslims were to live strictly according to 'the laws that Allah has laid down', then, it is believed, ‘they would be able to control the whole world and exercise their supremacy’. And for this, as well as to respond to the oppression that it claims that Muslims in large parts of the world are suffering, it insists that all Muslims must take to armed jihad. Armed jihad must continue, its website announces, ‘until Islam, as a way of life, dominates the whole world and until Allah's law is enforced everywhere in the world’.

The subject of armed jihad runs right through the writings and pronouncements of the Lashkar and is, in fact, the most prominent theme in its discourse. Indeed, its understanding of Islam may be seen as determined almost wholly by this preoccupation, so much so that its reading of Islam seems to be a product of its own political project, thus effectively ending up equating Islam with terror. Being born as a result of war in Afghanistan, war has become the very raison d'être of the Lashkar, and its subsequent development has been almost entirely determined by this concern. The contours of its ideological framework are constructed in such a way that the theme of armed jihad appears as the central element of its project. In the writings and speeches of Lashkar spokesmen jihad appears as violent conflict (qital) waged against 'unbelievers' who are said to be responsible for the oppression of the Muslims. Indeed, the Lashkar projects it as the one of the
most central tenets of Islam, although it has traditionally not been included as one of the 'five pillars’ of the faith. Thus, its website claims that ‘There is so much emphasis on this subject that some commentators and scholars of the Quran have remarked that the topic of the Quran is jihad’. Further, a Lashkar statement declares, ‘There is consensus of opinion among researchers of the Qur'an that no other action has been explained in such great detail as jihad’.

In Lashkar discourse, jihad against non-Muslims is projected as a religious duty binding on all Muslims today. Thus the Lashkar’s website claims that a Muslim who has ‘never intended to fight against the disbelievers […] is not without traces of hypocrisy’. Muslims who have the capacity to participate or assist in the jihad but do not do so are said to ‘be living a sinful life’. Not surprisingly, therefore, the Lashkar denounces all Muslims who do not agree with its pernicious and grossly distorted version of Islam and its hideous misinterpretation of jihad—Sufis, Shias, Barelvis and so on—as being ‘deviants’ or outside the pale of Islam or even in league with ‘anti-Islamic forces’. The Lashkar promises its activists that they would receive great rewards, both in this world and in the Hereafter, if they were to actively struggle in the path of jihad. Not only would they be guaranteed a place in Heaven, but they would also 'be
honoured in this world', for jihad, it claims, is also ‘the way that solves financial and political problems’.

Astoundingly bizarre though it is, the Markaz sees itself as engaged in a global jihad against the forces of ‘disbelief’, stopping at nothing short of aiming at the conquest of the entire world. As Nazir Ahmed, in-charge of the public relations department of the Lashkar, once declared, through the so-called jihad that the Lashkar has launched, ‘Islam will be dominant all over the world’. This global war is seen as a solution to all the ills and oppression afflicting all Muslims, and it is claimed that 'if we want to live with honour and dignity, then we have to return back to jihad’. Through jihad, the Lashkar website says, ‘Islam will be supreme throughout the world’.

In Lashkar discourse, its self-styled jihad against India is regarded as nothing less than a war between two different and mutually opposed ideologies: Islam, on the one hand, and Hinduism, on the other. It tars all Hindus with the same brush, as supposed ‘enemies of Islam’. Thus, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Lashkar chief, declares: ‘In fact, the Hindu is a mean enemy and the proper way to deal with him is the one adopted by our forefathers, who crushed them by force. We need to do the same’.

India is a major target for the Lashkar's terrorists. According to Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, ‘The jihad is not about Kashmir only. It encompasses all of India'. Thus, the Lashkar sees its self-styled jihad as going far beyond the borders of Kashmir and spreading through all of India. Its final goal, it says, is to extend Muslim control over what is seen as having once been Muslim land, and, hence, to be brought back under Muslim domination, creating what the Lashkar terms as 'the Greater Pakistan by dint of jihad’. Thus, at a mammoth congregation of Lashkar supporters in November 1999, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed thundered, ‘Today I announce the break-up of India, Inshallah. We will not rest until the whole of India is dissolved into Pakistan’.

The Lashkar, so say media reports, has been trying to drum up support among India’s Muslims, and it may well be that it has managed to find a few recruits to its cause among them. If this is the case, it has probably been prompted by the fact of mounting murderous Hindutva-inspired anti-Muslim pogroms across the country, often abetted by agencies of the state, which has taken a toll of several thousand innocent lives. The fact that no semblance of justice has been delivered in these cases and that the state has not taken any measure to reign in Hindutva terrorism adds further to the deep-seated despondency and despair among many Indian Muslims. This might well be used by self-styled Islamist terror groups, such as the Lashkar, to promote their own agenda. Obviously, therefore, in order to counter the grave threat posed by terror groups such as the Lashkar, the Indian state needs to tackle the menace of Hindutva terror as well, which has now assumed
the form of full-blown fascism. Both forms of terrorism feed on each other, and one cannot be tackled without taking on the other as well.

Mercifully, and despite the denial of justice to them, the vast majority of the Indian Muslims have refused to fall into the Lashkar’s trap. The flurry of anti-terrorism conferences that have recently been organised by important Indian Islamic groups is evidence of the fact that they regard the Lashkar’s perverse understanding of Islam as being wholly anti-Islamic and as a perversion of their faith. These voices urgently need to be promoted, for they might well be the most effective antidote to Lashkar propaganda. Numerous Indian Islamic scholars I know and have spoken to insist that the Lashkar’s denunciation of all non-Muslims as ‘enemies of Islam’, its fomenting of hatred towards Hindus and India and its understanding of jihad are a complete misrepresentation of Islamic teachings. They bitterly critique its call for a universal Caliphate as foolish wishful thinking. And they are unanimous that, far from serving the cause of the faith they
claim to espouse, groups like the Lashkar have done the most heinous damage to the name of Islam, and are to blame, to a very large extent, for mounting Islamophobia globally.

At the same time as fingers of suspicion are being pointed at the Lashkar for being behind the recent Mumbai blasts, other questions are being raised in some circles. The significant fact that Hemant Karkare, the brave ATS chief who was killed in the terrorist assault, had been investigating the role of Hindutva terrorist groups in blasts in Malegoan and elsewhere and had received threats for this has not gone un-noticed. Nor has the related fact that the assault on Mumbai happened soon after disturbing revelations began pouring in of the role of Hindutva activists in terror attacks in different parts of India. That the attack on Mumbai has led to the issue of Hindutva-inspired terrorism now being totally sidelined is also significant.

And then there is a possible Israeli angle that some are raising. Thus, the widely-read Mumbai-based tabloid Mid-Day, in an article about a building where numerous militants were holed up titled ‘Mumbai Attack: Was Nariman House the Terror Hub?’, states:

“The role that Nariman House is coming to play in this entire attack drama is puzzling. Last night, residents ordered close to 100 kilograms of meat and other food, enough to feed an army or a bunch of people for twenty days. Shortly thereafter, the ten odd militants moved in, obviously, indicating that the food and meat was ordered, keeping their visit in mind, another cop added.

“One of the militants called up a television news channel and voiced his demands today, but, interestingly, when he was asked where are they all holed him, he said at the Israeli owned Nariman House and they are six of them here", one of the investigating cops said. Since morning, there has been exchange of gun fire has been going on and the militants seem well equipped to counter the cops fire. To top it, they have food and shelter. One wonders [if] they have the support of the residents, a local Ramrao Shanker said.”

A Mossad/Israeli hand in the affair might seem far-fetched to some, but not so to others, who point to the role of Israeli agents in destabilizing a large number of countries as well as possibly operating within some radical Islamist movements, such as a group in Yemen styling itself ‘Islamic Jihad’, said to be responsible for the bombing of the American Embassy in Sanaa, and which is said to have close links with the Israeli intelligence. Some have raised the question if the Mossad or even the CIA might not be directly or otherwise instigating some disillusioned Muslim youth in India, Pakistan or elsewhere to take to terror by playing on Muslim grievances, operating through existing Islamist groups or spawning new ones for this purpose.

If this charge is true—although this remains to be conclusively established—the aim might be to further radicalize Muslims so as to provide further pretext for American and Israeli assaults on Islam and Muslim countries. The fact that the CIA had for years been in very close contact with the Pakistani ISI and radical Islamist groups in Pakistan is also being raised in this connection. The possible role of such foreign agencies of being behind some terror attacks that India has witnessed in recent years to further fan anti-Muslim hatred and also to weaken India is also being speculated on in some circles.

Whether all this is indeed true needs to be properly investigated. But the fact remains that it appears to be entirely in the interest of the Israeli establishment and powerful forces in America to create instability in India, fan Hindu-Muslim strife, even to the point of driving India and Pakistan to war with each other, and thereby drag India further into the deadly embrace of Zionists and American imperialists.

In other words, irrespective of who is behind the deadly attacks on Mumbai, it appears to suit the political interests and agendas of multiple and equally pernicious political forces—Islamist and Hindu radicals, fired by a hate-driven Manichaean vision of the world, but also global imperialist powers that seem to be using the attacks as a means to push India even deeper into their suicidal axis.

Sukhia Sab Sansar Khaye Aur Soye
Dukhia Das Kabir Jagey Aur Roye

The world is 'happy', eating and sleeping
The forlorn Kabir Das is awake and weeping

yogi sikand

As the Fires Die: The Terror of the Aftermath

As the Fires Die: The Terror of the Aftermath

As the smoke lifts from Mumbai, skepticism must prevail over those conjectures which support the official state narrative. It is crucial to increase the pressure for transparency and accountability at this moment to ensure that India doesn't slide into the same state as post-9/11 USA.

By Biju Mathew

This piece originally appeared in Samar 31, published online December 1st, 2008.

The deaths continue even as I write this. The death toll stands at 195. And of the several hundred injured some may not survive. It is now official. The siege is over. The last of the gunmen inside the Taj Hotel has been shot dead. The Oberoi/Trident hotel was cleared earlier today and the Nariman House Jewish Center at the corner of Third Pasta Lane on the Colaba Causeway was stormed close to 24 hours ago. The other targets - the Leopold Cafe (a popular tourist hangout), the CST railway terminus (also called the Victoria Terminus), the Metro Cinema, the Cama Hospital, all seem to be targets the gunmen attacked as they zoned in on the hotels and Nariman House. In the end this has become a story of two sets of men with guns.

The human story of the innocents who died, the hotel staff who kept their cool and moved guests around the hotel through the service entryways and exits, those who helped each other escape, will not really make it to the headlines. The maintenance worker at the Oberoi who shielded guests and took the bullets in his stomach will remain unsung. The hospital orderlies who ran in and out with stretchers carrying the wounded - each time not knowing if they will make it back themselves to the ambulance, will not be noted. The several trainee chefs at the Taj who fell to bullets even as other kitchen workers escorted guests away from the firing and hid them inside a private clubroom will not be written up in the book of heroes. The young waiter at Leopold who was to leave to work in a Cape Town restaurant will soon be forgotten. The two young men who dragged an Australian tourist shot in the leg away from the Leopold entrance and carried her to a taxi will not even identify themselves so that she can thank them. These stories, in as much as they are told, will remain on the lips of only the workers, the guests and the tourists who helped each other. The officials will try and produce a clean story to tell the world. And we know the clean story is untrue.

The official story that has already begun to emerge is one that may have some facts embedded in it. But we must remember that between every two facts is a lot of conjecture. The conjectures that unite the few facts (16 gunmen, AK47s, grenades, passports of multiple nationalities, boats on which at least some of them arrived, a dead Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief, Hemant Karkare, who was heading the investigation against the Hindu Right wings' terror campaign, the gunmen trying to identify British and American citizens) makes the story. The story then is as much a product of the conjecture as it is of the facts. And there are certain stories that we are already oriented towards. The conjectures that create that story - the story we are already prepared for - is the one the State will dole out for our consumption. Already the conjectures that will serve the State, are out there in great profusion.

Several reporters have noted that the gunmen were clean-shaven, dressed in jeans and T-shirts. The silent conjecture is that they were expecting and were surprised by the fact that these men did not have beards and did not sport the Muslim prayer cap. Every newspaper worth its salt - the Times of India, the Jerusalem Post, the Independent from the UK, among scores of others - have already run commentary on the unsecured coastline of India. The conjectural subtext is that securing the coastline is possible and if India had done so, this attack would have been prevented.

There is also a quick labeling going on -- India's 9/11. The subtext is that India could and should act as the US did after 9/11 - decisively and with great aggression. There is also the subtext that the Indian State is soft on terror that adds to the US-tough-on-terror contrast. Sadanand Dhume, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has castigated the Indian government for withdrawing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and for preventing states like Gujarat from passing their own version of the draconian worse-than-Patriot Act legislations. Neither Mr. Dhume, nor the several reporters who will now write stories about how the POTA repeal represents the Indian State's soft attitude towards terror will ever feel the need to explain how POTA could have prevented this attack.

The dead are on the floor. The vultures are moving in. The conjecture will try to unite the country into a series of unexamined positions. That POTA must be recalled. That States must be allowed to pass even more draconian laws. That Hindu terror is not a big issue and must be forgotten for now - especially now that we may not find an honest policeman or woman to head the ATS. That the defense budget must go up. That the coastline must be secured.

None of the well educated masters of the media will write that the 7000 odd kilometer coastline cannot be protected - that all it will translate to is billions in contracts for all and sundry including Israeli and American consultants. Nobody will write that a hundred POTAs will not prevent a terror attack like this one; that Guantanamo Bay has not yielded a single break through. Nobody will write that higher defense budgets have been more often correlated with insecure and militarized lives for ordinary citizens. Nobody will write that almost without exception all of US post 9/111 policies have been disasters. Bin Laden is still around, I am told and so is the Al Qaeda. The number of fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews have probably gone up over the last decade. So much for good policy. But the conjecture will go on.

The foreign hand and its internal partner will be floated without ever naming anything precise. But the country will read it just as it is meant to be read - Pakistan and the Indian Muslim. Everything will rest on the supposed confession of the one gunman who has been captured. A Pakistani from Faridkot, I am told. Why should we believe it? Didn't the same Indian State frame all the supposed accomplices in the Parliament attack case? Didn't the same Indian State claim that the assassins of Chattisinghpura were from across the border until that story fell apart? And more recently, didn't the same Indian State finally agree that all the accused in the Mecca Masjid bombings were actually innocent? And even if Mr. Assassin supposedly from Faridkot did say what he did say - why should we believe him? Why is it so difficult to believe that he has his lines ready and scripted? If he was willing to die for whatever cause he murdered for, then can he not lie? Oh the lie detector test - that completely discredited science that every militarized State trots out. And the media love the lie detector test because it is the best scientific garb you can give to conjecture.

I certainly don't know the truth. But I do know that there is more than enough reason for skepticism. The problem is that we need a new theory of the State. We need to re-understand the State.

There is such unanimity when it comes to analyzing the Pakistani State - that the ISI, and if not all of the ISI, at least a segment of it, is a rogue element Furthermore, that its bosses may not be sitting in Islamabad, but perhaps elsewhere in the country or even abroad. If we can accept that about the Pakistani State, why is it so difficult to accept it about the Indian State? We all know that Colin Powell was a kind of a patsy - a fall guy, who trotted out some lies on behalf of a segment of the neo-conservative movement firmly entrenched within the American State (which Obama will not touch). We also know that if the ISI has a rogue element in it, it was in good part created by the CIA. Then why do we think that the same guys couldn't render another State - such as the US - itself hollow from the inside.

The contemporary State is a different being. For every story of money-corruption you hear, there could just as well be one of political-corruption. Every vested interest who locates himself inside the State apparatus is not just a vested interest going after money but could just as well be securing the space for creating a certain politics. The RSS has a long history of trying to take over the bureaucracy, doesn't it? So do the neo-cons and so do the jamaatis. Then why do we believe in a theory of the State that is unified and with liberal goals?

The history of the liberal State and its relationship with capitalism of all types is a simple one. The longer that relationship persists the more corrupt and hollow the liberal State gets, leaving the space open for political ideologies to occupy its very insides. The logic for this is inherent in the very system. If profit is above all, then given the power the State has, it must be bought. Cheney is no different from Shivraj Patil, and Ambani is no different from Halliburton. They are both part of the story of hollowing the State out. And once the hollowing process begins, every ideological force can find its way in, as long as it has resources. The archetypal bourgeois liberal State is over. It never really existed, but what we have at the end of four decades of neo-liberalism bears no resemblance to the ideal formulation whatsoever. What we have instead is a series of hollowed out States with their nooks and crannies, their departments and offices populated with specific neo-conservative ideological interests. The US has its variant. India has its. And Israel its very own. It is incapable of delivering the truth, and not just the truth, it is only capable of producing lies.

If this story of skepticism makes sense then we have only one choice. To understand that it is crucial to increase the pressure for transparency at this moment, to be relentless in our demand for openness and detail, in our call to ensure that no investigation or inquiry that was in place be halted and that every one of these be subjected to public scrutiny. It is our responsibility to reject the discourse of secrecy based on security and demand specific standards of transparency. What we should demand is that every senior minister and every senior intelligence officer be examined and the records be made available to the public. What we must demand is that an officer of impeccable record be found to replace Hemant Karkare. What we must demand is that we get explanations of how a POTA clone would have stopped this crime. What we must ask is how POTA or the Patriot Act could have ever helped prevent terror? What we must do is support the Karkare family in their demand for a full investigation of his death in the company of the encounter specialist- Salaskar. What we must have is an open debate on every single case of terror over the last decade in India.

When I am in Bombay, I always stay at a friend's on Third Pasta Lane. Each afternoon I would walk out and see the Nariman House. I have wondered what the decrepit building was. I have always contrasted the drabness of the building with the colorful sign on the next building that announces Colaba Sweet House. The next time I won't wonder. I will know that it was one of the places where the drama that inaugurated India's renewed march towards fascism unfolded. Unless we act. Unless we act with speed and determination demanding transparency and accountability and a careful rewriting of the story of terror in India. Only a renewed movement can ensure that India doesn't slide into the same state as post 9/11 USA.

Biju Mathew is a member of the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate and the Coalition Against Genocide and is a co-founder of the New York Taxi Worker Alliance.

Hotel Taj : icon of whose India ? Gnani Sankaran- Tamil writer, Chennai

Hotel Taj : icon of whose India ?

Gnani Sankaran- Tamil writer, Chennai.

Watching at least four English news channels surfing from one another
during the last 60 hours of terror strike made me feel a terror of
another kind. The terror of assaulting one's mind and sensitivity with
cameras, sound bites and non-stop blabbers. All these channels have
been trying to manufacture my consent for a big lie called - Hotel Taj
the icon of India.

Whose India, Whose Icon ?

It is a matter of great shame that these channels simply did not
bother about the other icon that faced the first attack from
terrorists - the Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station.
CST is the true icon of Mumbai. It is through this railway station
hundreds of Indians from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal
and Tamilnadu have poured into Mumbai over the years, transforming
themselves into Mumbaikars and built the Mumbai of today along with
the Marathis and Kolis

But the channels would not recognise this. Nor would they recognise
the thirty odd dead bodies strewn all over the platform of CST. No
Barkha dutt went there to tell us who they were. But she was at Taj to
show us the damaged furniture and reception lobby braving the guards.
And the TV cameras did not go to the government run JJ hospital to
find out who those 26 unidentified bodies were. Instead they were
again invading the battered Taj to try in vain for a scoop shot of the
dead bodies of the page 3 celebrities.

In all probability, the unidentified bodies could be those of workers
from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh migrating to Mumbai, arriving by train at
CST without cell phones and pan cards to identify them. Even after 60
hours after the CST massacre, no channel has bothered to cover in
detail what transpired there.

The channels conveniently failed to acknowledge that the Aam Aadmis of
India surviving in Mumbai were not affected by Taj, Oberoi and Trident
closing down for a couple of weeks or months. What mattered to them
was the stoppage of BEST buses and suburban trains even for one hour.
But the channels were not covering that aspect of the terror attack.
Such information at best merited a scroll line, while the cameras have
to be dedicated for real time thriller unfolding at Taj or Nariman

The so called justification for the hype the channels built around
heritage site Taj falling down (CST is also a heritage site), is that
Hotel Taj is where the rich and the powerful of India and the globe
congregate. It is a symbol or icon of power of money and politics, not
India. It is the icon of the financiers and swindlers of India. The
Mumbai and India were built by the Aam Aadmis who passed through CST
and Taj was the oasis of peace and privacy for those who wielded power
over these mass of labouring classes. Leopold club and Taj were the
haunts of rich spoilt kids who would drive their vehicles over
sleeping Aam Aadmis on the pavement, the Mafiosi of Mumbai forever
financing the glitterati of Bollywood (and also the terrorists) ,
Political brokers and industrialists.

It is precisely because Taj is the icon of power and not people, that
the terrorists chose to strike.

The terrorists have understood after several efforts that the Aam
Aadmi will never break down even if you bomb her markets and trains.
He/she was resilient because that is the only way he/she can even

Resilience was another word that annoyed the pundits of news channels
and their patrons this time. What resilience, enough is enough, said
Pranoy Roy's channel on the left side of the channel spectrum. Same
sentiments were echoed by Arnab Goswami representing the right wing of
the broadcast media whose time is now. Can Rajdeep be far behind in
this game of one upmanship over TRPs ? They all attacked resilience
this time. They wanted firm action from the government in tackling

The same channels celebrated resilience when bombs went off in trains
and markets killing and maiming the Aam Aadmis. The resilience of the
ordinary worker suited the rich business class of Mumbai since work or
manufacture or film shooting did not stop. When it came to them, the
rich shamelessly exhibited their lack of nerves and refused to be
resilient themselves. They cry for government intervention now to
protect their private spas and swimming pools and bars and
restaurants, similar to the way in which Citibank, General Motors and
the ilk cry for government money when their coffers are emptied by
their own ideologies.

The terrorists have learnt that the ordinary Indian is unperturbed by
terror. For one whose daily existence itself is a terror of government
sponsored inflation and market sponsored exclusion, pain is something
he has learnt to live with. The rich of Mumbai and India Inc are
facing the pain for the first time and learning about it just as the
middle classes of India learnt about violation of human rights only
during emergency, a cool 28 years after independence.

And human rights were another favourite issue for the channels to whip
at times of terrorism.

Arnab Goswami in an animated voice wondered where were those
champions of human rights now, not to be seen applauding the brave and
selfless police officers who gave up their life in fighting terorism.
Well, the counter question would be where were you when such officers
were violating the human rights of Aam Aadmis. Has there ever been any
24 hour non stop coverage of violence against dalits and adivasis of
this country?

This definitely was not the time to manufacture consent for the extra
legal and third degree methods of interrogation of police and army but
Arnabs don't miss a single opportunity to serve their class masters,
this time the jingoistic patriotism came in handy to whitewash the
entire uniformed services.

The sacrifice of the commandos or the police officers who went down
dying at the hands of ruthless terrorists is no doubt heart rending
but in vain in a situation which needed not just bran but also brain.
Israel has a point when it says the operations were misplanned
resulting in the death of its nationals here.

Khakares and Salaskars would not be dead if they did not commit the
mistake of traveling by the same vehicle. It is a basic lesson in
management that the top brass should never t ravel together in crisis.
The terrorists, if only they had watched the channels, would have
laughed their hearts out when the Chief of the Marine commandos, an
elite force, masking his face so unprofessionally in a see-through
cloth, told the media that the commandos had no idea about the
structure of the Hotel Taj which they were trying to liberate. But the
terrorists knew the place thoroughly, he acknowledged.

Is it so difficult to obtain a ground plan of Hotel Taj and discuss
operation strategy thoroughly for at least one hour before entering?
This is something even an event manager would first ask for, if he had
to fix 25 audio systems and 50 CCtvs for a cultural event in a hotel.
Would not Ratan Tata have provided a plan of his ancestral hotel to
the commandos within one hour considering the mighty apparatus at his
and government's disposal? Are satelite pictures only available for
terrorists and not the government agencies ? In an operation known to
consume time, one more hour for preparation would have only improved
the efficiency of execution.

Sacrifices become doubly tragic in unprofessional circumstances. But
the Aam Aadmis always believe that terror-shooters do better planning
than terrorists. And the gullible media in a jingoistic mood would not
raise any question about any of these issues.

They after all have their favourite whipping boy - the politician the
eternal entertainer for the non-voting rich classes of India.

Arnabs and Rajdeeps would wax eloquent on Nanmohan Singh and Advani
visiting Mumbai separately and not together showing solidarity even at
this hour of national crisis. What a farce? Why can't these channels
pool together all their camera crew and reporters at this time of
national calamity and share the sound and visual bites which could
mean a wider and deeper coverage of events with such a huge human
resource to command? Why should Arnab and Rajdeep and Barkha keep
harping every five minutes that this piece of information was
exclusive to their channel, at the time of such a national crisis? Is
this the time to promote the channel? If that is valid, the politician
promoting his own political constituency is equally valid. And the
duty of the politican is to do politics, his politics. It is for the
people to evaluate that politics.

And terrorism is not above politics. It is politics by other means.

To come to grips with it and to eventually eliminate it, the practice
of politics by proper means needs constant fine tuning and
improvement. Decrying all politics and politicians, only helps
terrorists and dictators who are the two sides of the same coin. And
the rich and powerful always prefer terrorists and dictators to do
business with.

Those caught in this crossfire are always the Aam Aadmis whose deaths
are not even mourned - the taxi driver who lost the entire family at
CST firing, the numerous waiters and stewards who lost their lives
working in Taj for a monthly salary that would be one time bill for
their masters.

Postscript: In a fit of anger and depression, I sent a message to all
the channels, 30 hours through the coverage. After all they have been
constantly asking the viewers to message them for anything and
everything. My message read: I send this with lots of pain. All
channels, including yours, must apologise for not covering the victims
of CST massacre, the real mumbaikars and aam aadmis of India. Your
obsession with five star elite is disgusting. Learn from the print
media please. No channel bothered. Only srinivasan Jain replied: you
are right. We are trying to redress balance today. Well, nothing
happened till the time of writing this 66 hours after the terror


On the record: Mumbai and media coverage
Barkha Dutt
Group Editor- English News, NDTV
Thursday, December,4 2008 (New Delhi)


Sixty hours of live television at the best of times is impossibly difficult. But
when it involves an ongoing and precarious terrorist operation and a potential
danger to the lives of hundreds of people, it throws up challenges of the kind
that none of us have ever dealt with before.

Even those of us who have reported for years, on conflict, war and counter
insurgency weren't prepared for what we encountered in Mumbai: an audacious
attack on a city that was more in the nature of an invasion of India, than
terrorism in any form, that we have known before.

As India debates where to go from here and whether a "war on terror" is the
borrowed slogan that should define our response, I notice there is a different
sort of civil war brewing; one that places us in the media on the other side of
the enemy line.

For every Mumbaikar who believes we did the best we could in very trying
circumstances- and we have received thousands and thousands of such messages-
there are some others who are now questioning our ethics, our integrity and our
professionalism. On the streets of Mumbai, I only met people who thanked us for
providing a larger sense of community to a city seething with rage and grief.
But as I fly back to Delhi, Im told that "hate" groups are trying to compete
with "fan" communities on social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut. The
Internet apparently is buzzing with vitriol and we, in the media in general, and
sometimes, me in particular, are being targeted with a venom that is startling.
I understand that India is angry, nerves are frazzled and emotions heightened.
Even so,many of the charges are not just offensive. malicious and entirely
untrue; they are a convenient transference of responsibility. This is not to
say, that we made no mistakes-
I am sure we inadvertently made a few- as did every department of government,
when faced with a situation that India has never dealt with before. But to park
concocted and slanderous charges at our door is simply unacceptable, grossly
unfair and saddening.

I would also like to stress though that this eruption of allegations is only one
small part of a larger picture. In the past week, we have also received
countless words of support and encouragement- from thousands of people - Indian
citizens of every hue and ilk across the country, as well as some better known
ones, like Narayan Murthy, Salman Rushdie, Shashi Tharoor, Sunil Khilnani and
Suketu Mehta, to name just a few. When asked in an interview on NDTV, what
struck him watching the events unfold on television, Narayan Murthy, said it was
the "finest piece of TV journalism in a decade."

But in journalism, we know that, praise and criticism are twins that travel
together. And we welcome both and try and listen to both carefully.

So, for those who wrote in to tell us that we got it right- Thank you so much.
Your words encourage us.

But for those who charged us with crimes we absolutely assert we have not
committed, here is our response. Some of it is answer to general questions about
the media and some to specific charges made against our organization.

1. Please do note that at all times, the media respected the security cordon- a
cordon that was determined by the police and officials on site- and NOT by the
media. If, as is now being suggested, the assessment is that the media was
allowed too close to the operations, here is what we say: we would have been
happy to stand at a distance much further away from the encounter sites, had
anyone, anyone at all, asked us to move. In the 72 hours that we stood on
reporting duty, not once were we asked to move further away. We often delayed
live telecasting of images that we thought were sensitive so as to not
compromise the ongoing operation. Not once, were we asked by anyone in
authority, to switch our cameras off, or withhold images. When we did so, it was
entirely our own assessment that perhaps it was safest to do so. Across the
world, and as happened in the US after 9/11, there are daily, centralized
briefings by officials to avoid any inadvertent
confusion that media coverage may throw up. Not so in Mumbai. There was no
central point of contact or information for journalists who were often left to
their own devices to hunt down news that they felt had to be conveyed to their
country. No do's and don'ts were provided by officials. While we understand that
this situation was new for everyone involved, and so the government could not
have been expected to have a full plan for media coverage, surely the same
latitude should be shown to us? The NSG chief even thanked the media for our
consistent co-operation. Later the NSG commandos personally thanked me for
showcasing their need for a dedicated aircraft- which they shockingly did not
have - they have now been given there after NDTV's special report was aired.

We have only the greatest respect and admiration for our armed forces, and
throughout the coverage repeatedly underlined how they are our greatest heroes.
But we were taken aback to hear the Navy Chief, branding us as a "disabling
force," for reporting on an ongoing operation. If that is the case, why were his
own officers briefing us on camera, bang in the middle of an ongoing operation
and that too when they only had a few rushed moments at the site of encounters?
Before the encounter was over at either the Taj or the Oberoi, his marine
commandos even held a hastily called press conference that was telecast live,
with their permission, across channels. If we were indeed the obstacle, or the
"disabling force" why did they have time for us in the middle of an operation?
While shooting the messenger is convenient , the government also needs to
introspect and determine whether it has an information dissemination system in
place that is geared for such
crises. Blanking out channels- as was done for a few hours- may not be the
ideal solution. It only leads to more rumour mongering, panic and falsehoods
spreading in already uncertain situation.

2. Why did we interview waiting relatives who staked out at the hotels as they
waited for news on their families and friends? Quite simply, because they WANTED
to talk. Allegations that I or any of my colleagues across the industry shoved a
microphone in the faces of any waiting relative, are untrue in the extreme.
Television, for many of these people, became a medium to express pain, grief,
anger and hope. Sometimes, they expressed the desire to speak, because as they
said, they just wanted to feel like they were doing something, instead of
sitting by on the pavement for endless, countless hours. Many did not want to
speak or be filmed, and they were neither pressured nor asked. Many personally
asked me for my telephone number, and got in touch, requesting whether they
could come on our shows and make their appeals. And besides, wasn't the issue at
hand as much about their potential loss and anxieties, as it was about an
ongoing gunbattle? Wasn't it
important to touch upon the human dimension and not just the military one? I
believe strongly that it was. Capturing suffering on live television is a
delicate issue that needs the utmost sensitivity. We believed we showed that
sensitivity, by not thrusting microphones in people's faces, by respecting
privacy if people asked for identities or images to be withheld, by never
showing a ghoulish close-up of a body, and by respecting the limits set by the
people themselves. Those limits were different for different people and had to
be adapted to subjectively. But every interview of a relative that was aired on
any of my shows, was done so with the full consent and participation of the
people speaking. If they wanted to share their story, vent, give an outlet for
their grief or just make an appeal for peace- and the emotions varied- how can
other people out there determine that they should not be speaking? But to say
that we had no business talking to
families is an entirely naive and misplaced criticism. They chose to talk. In
every case, it was their choice to share and to speak. And their voices were in
fact the real tragedy and needed to be heard and told.

Similarly, when the rescued hostages first emerged from the hotels many of them
WANTED to speak because they wanted to let their families know they were safe.
The unfortunate absence of a cordon created an avoidable crowding in of
journalists. But every rescued hostage who appeared on any of our shows did so
entirely voluntarily. Every participant on We the People, including Shameem, a
man who lost six members of his family at the CST railway station was there
because they wanted to share their tragedy or miraculous escape or trauma in a
wider community. Shameem, who said he did not have money to bury his dead, has
since been offered help and rehabilitation by our viewers. In that moment,
television provided a wider sense of community, when no one else had the time of
wherewithal to talk to the waiting relatives.

3. Could we have been more aware of the suffering and tragedy of those killed in
the first few hours at the CST railway station and not got singularly focused on
the two hotels? On this one point, I would concede that perhaps, this was a
balance we lost and needed to redress earlier on during the coverage. But,
mostly our attention was on the hotels, because they were the sites of the live
encounters, and not because of some deliberate socio-economic prejudice. Still,
when many emails poured in on how important it was to correct this imbalance,
most of us, stood up, took notice, and tried to make amends for an unwitting
lack of balance in air time.

4. Should there be an emergency code of dos and donts for the coverage of such
crises? We in the media would welcome a framework for sensitive events and are
happy to contribute to its construction. But it is important to understand that
in the absence of any instructions on site and in the absence of any such
framework we broke NO rules. Both the NSG chief and the special secretary untrue
took place and we have an official aknowledgment of that, including from then
Army Chief, V.P Malik. I would urge Admiral Mehta to read General V.P Malik's
book on Kargil for further clarity. General Malik was the Army Chief during the
operations and puts to rest any such controversy in his book. In a formal
letter, NDTV has also asked for an immediate retraction from the Navy and
officially complained that the comments amount to defamation. Several writers
have already pointed out how the Navy Chief has got his facts wrong. (DNA,
Indian Express, Vir Sanghvi in The
Hindustan Times, Sankarshan Thakur in The Telegraph). This, incidentally, was
the same press conference where the Admiral threatened literally to "chop the
heads off" of two other reporters who aired his interview ahead of schedule.

I believe that criticism is what helps us evolve and reinvent ourselves. But
when malice and rumour are regarded as feedback, there can be no constructive
dialogue. Viewing preferences are highly subjective and always deeply personal
choices, and the most fitting rejection of someone who doesn't appeal to your
aesthetics of intelligence, is simply to flick the channel and watch someone
else. The viewer, to that extent, is king. But, when, comments begin targeting
character, morality and integrity of individuals and the commentary becomes more
about the individual, than the issue, then frankly, the anger is just
destructive and little else. More than anything else, it is tragic that at this
time, we are expressing ourselves in this fashion. Surely, India has bigger
lessons to learn and larger points to mull over, than to expend energy over
which television journalist tops the charts or falls to the bottom.

The viewer has his own way, of settling such matters. And the last word belongs
to him.

Mumbai:: 9 Is Not 11 (And November Isn't September) By Arundhati Roy

9 Is Not 11
(And November Isn't September)

By Arundhati Roy

We've forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching "India's 9/11." And like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we're expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it's all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, U.S. Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that, if it didn't act fast to arrest the "bad guys," he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on "terrorist camps" in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India's 9/11.

But November isn't September, 2008 isn't 2001, Pakistan isn't Afghanistan, and India isn't America. So perhaps we should reclaim our tragedy and pick through the debris with our own brains and our own broken hearts so that we can arrive at our own conclusions.

It's odd how, in the last week of November, thousands of people in Kashmir supervised by thousands of Indian troops lined up to cast their vote, while the richest quarters of India's richest city ended up looking like war-torn Kupwara -- one of Kashmir's most ravaged districts.

The Mumbai attacks are only the most recent of a spate of terrorist attacks on Indian towns and cities this year. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur, and Malegaon have all seen serial bomb blasts in which hundreds of ordinary people have been killed and wounded. If the police are right about the people they have arrested as suspects, both Hindu and Muslim, all are Indian nationals, which obviously indicates that something's going very badly wrong in this country.

If you were watching television you might not have heard that ordinary people, too, died in Mumbai. They were mowed down in a busy railway station and a public hospital. The terrorists did not distinguish between poor and rich. They killed both with equal cold-bloodedness.

The Indian media, however, was transfixed by the rising tide of horror that breached the glittering barricades of "India shining" and spread its stench in the marbled lobbies and crystal ballrooms of two incredibly luxurious hotels and a small Jewish center.

We're told that one of these hotels is an icon of the city of Mumbai. That's absolutely true. It's an icon of the easy, obscene injustice that ordinary Indians endure every day. On a day when the newspapers were full of moving obituaries by beautiful people about the hotel rooms they had stayed in, the gourmet restaurants they loved (ironically one was called Kandahar), and the staff who served them, a small box on the top left-hand corner in the inner pages of a national newspaper (sponsored by a pizza company, I think) said, "Hungry, kya?" ("Hungry eh?"). It, then, with the best of intentions I'm sure, informed its readers that, on the international hunger index, India ranked below Sudan and Somalia.

But of course this isn't that war. That one's still being fought in the Dalit bastis (settlements) of our villages; on the banks of the Narmada and the Koel Karo rivers; in the rubber estate in Chengara; in the villages of Nandigram, Singur, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Lalgarh in West Bengal; and the slums and shantytowns of our gigantic cities.

That war isn't on TV. Yet.

So maybe, like everyone else, we should deal with the one that is.

Terrorism and the Need for Context

There is a fierce, unforgiving fault line that runs through the contemporary discourse on terrorism. On one side (let's call it Side A) are those who see terrorism, especially "Islamist" terrorism, as a hateful, insane scourge that spins on its own axis, in its own orbit, and has nothing to do with the world around it, nothing to do with history, geography, or economics. Therefore, Side A says, to try to place it in a political context, or even to try to understand it, amounts to justifying it and is a crime in itself.

Side B believes that, though nothing can ever excuse or justify it, terrorism exists in a particular time, place, and political context, and to refuse to see that will only aggravate the problem and put more and more people in harm's way. Which is a crime in itself.

The sayings of Hafiz Saeed who founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) in 1990 and who belongs to the hard-line Salafi tradition of Islam, certainly bolsters the case of Side A. Hafiz Saeed approves of suicide bombing, hates Jews, Shias, and Democracy, and believes that jihad should be waged until Islam, his Islam, rules the world.

Among the things he said are:

"There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy."

And: "India has shown us this path. We would like to give India a tit-for-tat response and reciprocate in the same way by killing the Hindus, just like it is killing the Muslims in Kashmir."

But where would Side A accommodate the sayings of Babu Bajrangi of Ahmedabad, India, who sees himself as a democrat, not a terrorist? He was one of the major lynchpins of the 2002 Gujarat genocide and has said (on camera):

"We didn't spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire… we hacked, burned, set on fire… we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don't want to be cremated, they're afraid of it… I have just one last wish… let me be sentenced to death… I don't care if I'm hanged... just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs [seven or eight hundred thousand] of these people stay... I will finish them off… let a few more of them die... at least twenty-five thousand to fifty thousand should die."

And where in Side A's scheme of things would we place the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh bible, We, or, Our Nationhood Defined by M. S. Golwalkar , who became head of the RSS in 1944. (The RSS is the ideological heart, the holding company of the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, and its militias. The RSS was founded in 1925. By the 1930s, its founder, Dr. K. B. Hedgewar, a fan of Benito Mussolini's, had begun to model it overtly along the lines of Italian fascism.)

It says:

"Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening."


"To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here... a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by."

Of course Muslims are not the only people in the gun sights of the Hindu Right. Dalits have been consistently targeted. Recently, in Kandhamal in Orissa, Christians were the target of two and a half months of violence that left more than 40 dead. Forty thousand people have been driven from their homes, half of whom now live in refugee camps.

All these years Hafiz Saeed has lived the life of a respectable man in Lahore as the head of the Jamaat-ud Daawa, which many believe is a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. He continues to recruit young boys for his own bigoted jihad with his twisted, fiery sermons. On December 11, the United Nations imposed sanctions on the Jamaat-ud-Daawa. The Pakistani government succumbed to international pressure and put Hafiz Saeed under house arrest.

Babu Bajrangi, however, is out on bail and lives the life of a respectable man in Gujarat. A couple of years after the genocide, he left the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, a militia of the RSS) to join the Shiv Sena (another rightwing nationalist party). Narendra Modi, Bajrangi's former mentor, is still the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

So the man who presided over the Gujarat genocide was reelected twice, and is deeply respected by India's biggest corporate houses, Reliance and Tata. Suhel Seth, a TV impresario and corporate spokesperson, recently said, "Modi is God." The policemen who supervised and sometimes even assisted the rampaging Hindu mobs in Gujarat have been rewarded and promoted.

The RSS has 45,000 branches and seven million volunteers preaching its doctrine of hate across India. They include Narendra Modi, but also former Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee, current leader of the opposition L. K. Advani, and a host of other senior politicians, bureaucrats, and police and intelligence officers.

And if that's not enough to complicate our picture of secular democracy, we should place on record that there are plenty of Muslim organizations within India preaching their own narrow bigotry.

So, on balance, if I had to choose between Side A and Side B, I'd pick Side B. We need context. Always.

A Close Embrace of Hatred, Terrifying Familiarity, and Love

On this nuclear subcontinent, that context is Partition. The Radcliffe Line, which separated India and Pakistan and tore through states, districts, villages, fields, communities, water systems, homes, and families, was drawn virtually overnight. It was Britain's final, parting kick to us.

Partition triggered the massacre of more than a million people and the largest migration of a human population in contemporary history. Eight million people, Hindus fleeing the new Pakistan, Muslims fleeing the new kind of India, left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Each of those people carries, and passes down, a story of unimaginable pain, hate, horror, but yearning too. That wound, those torn but still unsevered muscles, that blood and those splintered bones still lock us together in a close embrace of hatred, terrifying familiarity, but also love. It has left Kashmir trapped in a nightmare from which it can't seem to emerge, a nightmare that has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

Pakistan, the Land of the Pure, became an Islamic Republic, and then very quickly a corrupt, violent military state, openly intolerant of other faiths.

India on the other hand declared herself an inclusive, secular democracy. It was a magnificent undertaking, but Babu Bajrangi's predecessors had been hard at work since the 1920s, dripping poison into India's bloodstream, undermining that idea of India even before it was born.

By 1990, they were ready to make a bid for power. In 1992 Hindu mobs exhorted by L. K. Advani stormed the Babri Masjid and demolished it.

By 1998, the BJP was in power at the center. The U.S. War on Terror put the wind in their sails. It allowed them to do exactly as they pleased, even to commit genocide and then present their fascism as a legitimate form of chaotic democracy.

This happened at a time when India had opened its huge market to international finance and it was in the interests of international corporations and the media houses they owned to project it as a country that could do no wrong. That gave Hindu nationalists all the impetus and the impunity they needed.

This, then, is the larger historical context of terrorism on the subcontinent -- and of the Mumbai attacks. It shouldn't surprise us that Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Taiba is from Shimla (India) and L. K. Advani of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is from Sindh (Pakistan).

In much the same way as it did after the 2001 Parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express, and the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the government of India announced that it has "incontrovertible" evidence that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, backed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was behind the Mumbai strikes.

The Lashkar has denied involvement, but remains the prime accused. According to the police and intelligence agencies, the Lashkar operates in India through an organization called the "Indian Mujahideen." Two Indian nationals, Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmed, a Special Police Officer working for the Jammu and Kashmir Police, and Tausif Rehman, a resident of Kolkata in West Bengal, have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks.

So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy.

Almost always, when these stories unspool, they reveal a complicated global network of foot soldiers, trainers, recruiters, middlemen, and undercover intelligence and counter-intelligence operatives working not just on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, but in several countries simultaneously.

In today's world, trying to pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state, is very much like trying to pin down the provenance of corporate money. It's almost impossible.

In circumstances like these, air strikes to "take out" terrorist camps may take out the camps, but certainly will not "take out" the terrorists. And neither will war.

Also, in our bid for the moral high ground, let's try not to forget that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE of neighboring Sri Lanka, one of the world's most deadly terrorist groups, were trained by the Indian Army.

Releasing Frankensteins

Thanks largely to the part it was forced to play as America's ally, first in its war in support of the Afghan Islamists and then in its war against them, Pakistan, whose territory is reeling under these contradictions, is careening toward civil war.

As recruiting agents for America's jihad against the Soviet Union, it was the job of the Pakistani Army and the ISI to nurture and channel funds to Islamic fundamentalist organizations. Having wired up these Frankensteins and released them into the world, the U.S. expected it could rein them in like pet mastiffs whenever it wanted to. Certainly it did not expect them to come calling in the heart of the homeland on September 11. So once again, Afghanistan had to be violently remade.

Now the debris of a re-ravaged Afghanistan has washed up on Pakistan's borders.

Nobody, least of all the Pakistani government, denies that it is presiding over a country that is threatening to implode. The terrorist training camps, the fire-breathing mullahs, and the maniacs who believe that Islam will, or should, rule the world are mostly the detritus of two Afghan wars. Their ire rains down on the Pakistani government and Pakistani civilians as much, if not more, than it does on India.

If, at this point, India decides to go to war, perhaps the descent of the whole region into chaos will be complete. The debris of a bankrupt, destroyed Pakistan will wash up on India's shores, endangering us as never before.

If Pakistan collapses, we can look forward to having millions of "non-state actors" with an arsenal of nuclear weapons at their disposal as neighbors.

It's hard to understand why those who steer India's ship are so keen to replicate Pakistan's mistakes and call damnation upon this country by inviting the United States to further meddle clumsily and dangerously in our extremely complicated affairs. A superpower never has allies. It only has agents.

On the plus side, the advantage of going to war is that it's the best way for India to avoid facing up to the serious trouble building on our home front.

The Mumbai attacks were broadcast live (and exclusive!) on all or most of our 67 24-hour news channels and god knows how many international ones. TV anchors in their studios and journalists at "ground zero" kept up an endless stream of excited commentary.

Over three days and three nights we watched in disbelief as a small group of very young men, armed with guns and gadgets, exposed the powerlessness of the police, the elite National Security Guard, and the marine commandos of this supposedly mighty, nuclear-powered nation.

While they did this, they indiscriminately massacred unarmed people, in railway stations, hospitals, and luxury hotels, unmindful of their class, caste, religion, or nationality.

(Part of the helplessness of the security forces had to do with having to worry about hostages. In other situations, in Kashmir for example, their tactics are not so sensitive. Whole buildings are blown up. Human shields are used. The U.S. and Israeli armies don't hesitate to send cruise missiles into buildings and drop daisy cutters on wedding parties in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan.)

But this was different. And it was on TV.

The boy-terrorists' nonchalant willingness to kill -- and be killed -- mesmerized their international audience. They delivered something different from the usual diet of suicide bombings and missile attacks that people have grown inured to on the news.

Here was something new. Die Hard 25. The gruesome performance went on and on. TV ratings soared. Ask any television magnate or corporate advertiser who measures broadcast time in seconds, not minutes, what that's worth.

Eventually the killers died and died hard, all but one. (Perhaps, in the chaos, some escaped. We may never know.)

Throughout the standoff the terrorists made no demands and expressed no desire to negotiate. Their purpose was to kill people, and inflict as much damage as they could, before they were killed themselves. They left us completely bewildered.

Collateral Damage

When we say, "Nothing can justify terrorism," what most of us mean is that nothing can justify the taking of human life. We say this because we respect life, because we think it's precious.

So what are we to make of those who care nothing for life, not even their own? The truth is that we have no idea what to make of them, because we can sense that even before they've died, they've journeyed to another world where we cannot reach them.

One TV channel (India TV) broadcast a phone conversation with one of the attackers, who called himself "Imran Babar." I cannot vouch for the veracity of the conversation, but the things he talked about were the things contained in the "terror emails" that were sent out before several other bomb attacks in India. Things we don't want to talk about any more: the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the genocidal slaughter of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, the brutal repression in Kashmir.

"You're surrounded," the anchor told him. "You are definitely going to die. Why don't you surrender?"

"We die every day," he replied in a strange, mechanical way. "It's better to live one day as a lion and then die this way." He didn't seem to want to change the world. He just seemed to want to take it down with him.

If the men were indeed members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, why didn't it matter to them that a large number of their victims were Muslim, or that their action was likely to result in a severe backlash against the Muslim community in India whose rights they claim to be fighting for?

Terrorism is a heartless ideology, and like most ideologies that have their eye on the Big Picture, individuals don't figure in their calculations except as collateral damage.

It has always been a part of, and often even the aim of, terrorist strategy to exacerbate a bad situation in order to expose hidden fault lines. The blood of "martyrs" irrigates terrorism. Hindu terrorists need dead Hindus, Communist terrorists need dead proletarians, Islamist terrorists need dead Muslims. The dead become the demonstration, the proof of victimhood, which is central to the project.

A single act of terrorism is not in itself meant to achieve military victory; at best it is meant to be a catalyst that triggers something else, something much larger than itself, a tectonic shift, a realignment. The act itself is theater, spectacle, and symbolism, and today the stage on which it pirouettes and performs its acts of bestiality is Live TV. Even as the Mumbai attacks were being condemned by TV anchors, the effectiveness of the terror strikes was being magnified a thousand-fold by the TV broadcasts.

Through the endless hours of analysis and the endless op-ed essays, in India at least, there has been very little mention of the elephants in the room: Kashmir, Gujarat, and the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Instead, we had retired diplomats and strategic experts debate the pros and cons of a war against Pakistan. We had the rich threatening not to pay their taxes unless their security was guaranteed. (Is it alright for the poor to remain unprotected?) We had people suggest that the government step down and each state in India be handed over to a separate corporation.

We had the death of former Prime Minster V. P. Singh, the hero of Dalits and lower castes, and the villain of upper caste Hindus pass without a mention.

We had Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City and co-writer of the Bollywood film Mission Kashmir give us his version of George Bush's famous "Why They Hate Us" speech. His analysis of why religious bigots, both Hindu and Muslim, hate Mumbai: "Perhaps because Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness."

His prescription: "The best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever."

Didn't George Bush ask Americans to go out and shop after 9/11? Ah yes. 9/11, the day we can't seem to get away from.

A Shadowy History of Suspicious Terror Attacks

Though one chapter of horror in Mumbai has ended, another might have just begun. Day after day, a powerful, vociferous section of the Indian elite, goaded by marauding TV anchors who make Fox News look almost radical and left-wing, have taken to mindlessly attacking politicians, all politicians, glorifying the police and the army, and virtually asking for a police state.

It isn't surprising that those who have grown plump on the pickings of democracy (such as it is) should now be calling for a police state. The era of "pickings" is long gone. We're now in the era of Grabbing by Force, and democracy has a terrible habit of getting in the way.

Dangerous, stupid oversimplifications like the Police are Good/Politicians are Bad, Chief Executives are Good/Chief Ministers are Bad, Army is Good/Government is Bad, India is Good/Pakistan is Bad are being bandied about by TV channels that have already whipped their viewers into a state of almost uncontrollable hysteria.

Tragically this regression into intellectual infancy comes at a time when people in India were beginning to see that, in the business of terrorism, victims and perpetrators sometimes exchange roles.

It's an understanding that the people of Kashmir, given their dreadful experiences of the last 20 years, have honed to an exquisite art. On the mainland we're still learning. (If Kashmir won't willingly integrate into India, it's beginning to look as though India will integrate/disintegrate into Kashmir.)

It was after the 2001 Parliament attack that the first serious questions began to be raised. A campaign by a group of lawyers and activists exposed how innocent people had been framed by the police and the press, how evidence was fabricated, how witnesses lied, how due process had been criminally violated at every stage of the investigation.

Eventually, the courts acquitted two out of the four accused, including S. A. R. Geelani, the man whom the police claimed was the mastermind of the operation. A third, Showkat Guru, was acquitted of all the charges brought against him, but was then convicted for a fresh, comparatively minor offense.

The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of another of the accused, Mohammad Afzal. In its judgment the court acknowledged that there was no proof that Mohammed Afzal belonged to any terrorist group, but went on to say, quite shockingly, "The collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender."

Even today we don't really know who the terrorists that attacked the Indian Parliament were and who they worked for.

More recently, on September 19th of this year, we had the controversial "encounter" at Batla House in Jamia Nagar, Delhi, where the Special Cell of the Delhi police gunned down two Muslim students in their rented flat under seriously questionable circumstances, claiming that they were responsible for serial bombings in Delhi, Jaipur, and Ahmedabad in 2008. An assistant commissioner of police, Mohan Chand Sharma, who played a key role in the Parliament attack investigation, lost his life as well. He was one of India's many "encounter specialists," known and rewarded for having summarily executed several "terrorists."

There was an outcry against the Special Cell from a spectrum of people, ranging from eyewitnesses in the local community to senior Congress Party leaders, students, journalists, lawyers, academics, and activists, all of whom demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.

In response, the BJP and L. K. Advani lauded Mohan Chand Sharma as a "Braveheart" and launched a concerted campaign in which they targeted those who had dared to question the integrity of the police, saying to do so was "suicidal" and calling them "anti-national." Of course, there has been no enquiry.

Only days after the Batla House event, another story about "terrorists" surfaced in the news. In a report submitted to a Sessions Court, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that a team from Delhi's Special Cell (the same team that led the Batla House encounter, including Mohan Chand Sharma) had abducted two innocent men, Irshad Ali and Moarif Qamar, in December 2005, planted two kilograms of RDX (explosives) and two pistols on them, and then arrested them as "terrorists" who belonged to Al Badr (which operates out of Kashmir).

Ali and Qamar, who have spent years in jail, are only two examples out of hundreds of Muslims who have been similarly jailed, tortured, and even killed on false charges.

This pattern changed in October 2008 when Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which was investigating the September 2008 Malegaon blasts, arrested a Hindu preacher Sadhvi Pragya, a self-styled God man, Swami Dayanand Pande, and Lt. Col. Purohit, a serving officer of the Indian Army. All the arrested belong to Hindu nationalist organizations, including a Hindu supremacist group called Abhinav Bharat.

The Shiv Sena, the BJP, and the RSS condemned the Maharashtra ATS, and vilified its chief, Hemant Karkare, claiming he was part of a political conspiracy and declaring that "Hindus could not be terrorists." L. K. Advani changed his mind about his policy on the police and made rabble rousing speeches to huge gatherings in which he denounced the ATS for daring to cast aspersions on holy men and women.

On November 25th, newspapers reported that the ATS was investigating the high profile VHP chief Pravin Togadia's possible role in the blasts in Malegaon (a predominantly Muslim town). The next day, in an extraordinary twist of fate, Hemant Karkare was killed in the Mumbai attacks. The chances are that the new chief, whoever he is, will find it hard to withstand the political pressure that is bound to be brought on him over the Malegaon investigation.

While the Sangh Parivar does not seem to have come to a final decision over whether or not it is anti-national and suicidal to question the police, Arnab Goswami, anchorperson of Times Now television, has stepped up to the plate. He has taken to naming, demonizing, and openly heckling people who have dared to question the integrity of the police and armed forces.

My name and the name of the well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan have come up several times. At one point, while interviewing a former police officer, Arnab Goswami turned to the camera: "Arundhati Roy and Prashant Bhushan," he said. "I hope you are watching this. We think you are disgusting."

For a TV anchor to do this in an atmosphere as charged and as frenzied as the one that prevails today amounts to incitement, as well as threat, and would probably in different circumstances have cost a journalist his or her job.

So, according to a man aspiring to be the next prime minister of India, and another who is the public face of a mainstream TV channel, citizens have no right to raise questions about the police.

This in a country with a shadowy history of suspicious terror attacks, murky investigations, and fake "encounters." This in a country that boasts of the highest number of custodial deaths in the world, and yet refuses to ratify the international covenant on torture. A country where the ones who make it to torture chambers are the lucky ones because at least they've escaped being "encountered" by our Encounter Specialists. A country where the line between the underworld and the Encounter Specialists virtually does not exist.

The Monster in the Mirror

How should those of us whose hearts have been sickened by the knowledge of all of this view the Mumbai attacks, and what are we to do about them?

There are those who point out that U.S. strategy has been successful inasmuch as the United States has not suffered a major attack on its home ground since 9/11. However, some would say that what America is suffering now is far worse.

If the idea behind the 9/11 terror attacks was to goad America into showing its true colors, what greater success could the terrorists have asked for? The U.S. military is bogged down in two unwinnable wars, which have made the United States the most hated country in the world. Those wars have contributed greatly to the unraveling of the American economy and who knows, perhaps eventually the American empire.

(Could it be that battered, bombed Afghanistan, the graveyard of the Soviet Union, will be the undoing of this one too?)

Hundreds of thousands of people, including thousands of American soldiers, have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The frequency of terrorist strikes on U.S. allies/agents (including India) and U.S. interests in the rest of the world has increased dramatically since 9/11.

George W. Bush, the man who led the U.S. response to 9/11, is a despised figure not just internationally, but also by his own people.

Who can possibly claim that the United States is winning the War on Terror?

Homeland Security has cost the U.S. government billions of dollars. Few countries, certainly not India, can afford that sort of price tag. But even if we could, the fact is that this vast homeland of ours cannot be secured or policed in the way the United States has been. It's not that kind of homeland.

We have a hostile nuclear-weapons state that is slowly spinning out of control as a neighbor; we have a military occupation in Kashmir and a shamefully persecuted, impoverished minority of more than 150 million Muslims who are being targeted as a community and pushed to the wall, whose young see no justice on the horizon, and who, were they to totally lose hope and radicalize, will end up as a threat not just to India, but to the whole world.

If 10 men can hold off the NSG commandos and the police for three days, and if it takes half a million soldiers to hold down the Kashmir valley, do the math. What kind of Homeland Security can secure India?

Nor for that matter will any other quick fix.

Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they're for people that governments don't like. That's why they have a conviction rate of less than 2%. They're just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go.

Terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai are hardly likely to be deterred by the prospect of being refused bail or being sentenced to death. It's what they want.

What we're experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet's squelching under our feet.

The only way to contain -- it would be naïve to say end -- terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We're standing at a fork in the road. One sign says "Justice," the other "Civil War." There's no third sign and there's no going back. Choose.

Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives, and has worked as a film designer, actor, and screenplay writer in India. A tenth anniversary edition of her novel, The God of Small Things (Random House), for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize, will be officially published within days. She is also the author of numerous nonfiction titles, including An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire. This piece was published by Outlook India, which is sharing it with

Copyright 2008 Arundhati Roy

Mumbai:: Lessons in security: Terrorists Used Google Earth, Boats, Food

Bruce Schneier is probably the best in the business when it comes to security... and as he makes the point often, it does not have to be high cost or high tech.

His security email CRYPTOGRAM comes like clockwork on the 15th of every month. So for those who have the time and the inclination, I would strongly recommend that you subscribe to it.

Read on, and best wishes,


Lessons from Mumbai

Written right after the carnage:

I'm still reading about the Mumbai terrorist attacks, and I expect it'll be a long time before we get a lot of the details. What we know is horrific, and my sympathy goes out to the survivors of the dead (and the injured, who often seem to get ignored as people focus on death tolls). Without discounting the awfulness of the events, I have some initial observations:

* Low-tech is very effective. Movie-plot threats -- terrorists with crop dusters, terrorists with biological agents, terrorists targeting our water supplies -- might be what people worry about, but a bunch of trained (we don't really know yet what sort of training they had, but it's clear that they had some) men with guns and grenades is all they needed.

* At the same time, the attacks had a surprisingly low body count. I can't find exact numbers, but it seems there were about 18 terrorists. The latest toll is 195 dead, 235 wounded. That's 11 dead, 13 wounded, per terrorist. As horrible as the reality is, that's much less than you might have thought if you imagined the movie in your head. Reality is different from the movies.

* Even so, terrorism is rare. If a bunch of men with guns and grenades is all they really need, then why isn't this sort of terrorism more common? Why not in the U.S., where it's easy to get hold of weapons? It's because terrorism is very, very rare.

* Specific countermeasures don't help against these attacks. None of the high-priced countermeasures that defend against specific tactics and specific targets made, or would have made, any difference: photo ID checks, confiscating liquids at airports, fingerprinting foreigners at the border, bag screening on public transportation, anything. Even metal detectors and threat warnings didn't do any good.

If there's any lesson in these attacks, it's not to focus too much on the specifics of the attacks. Of course, that's not the way we're programmed to think. We respond to stories, not analysis. I don't mean to be unsympathetic; this tendency is human and these deaths are really tragic. But 18 armed people intent on killing lots of innocents will be able to do just that, and last-line-of-defense countermeasures won't be able to stop them. Intelligence, investigation, and emergency response. We have to find and stop the terrorists before they attack, and deal with the aftermath of the attacks we don't stop. There really is no other way, and I hope that we don't let the tragedy lead us into unwise decisions about how to deal with terrorism.,23739,24726093-954,00.html or

Movie-plot threats:

Our brains and stories:

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Communications During Terrorist Attacks are *Not* Bad

Twitter was a vital source of information in Mumbai; people were using the site to communicate with and update others during the terrorist attacks. We simply have to be smarter than this idea: "And this morning, Twitter users said that Indian authorities was asking users to stop updating the site for security reasons. One person wrote: 'Police reckon tweeters giving away strategic info to terrorists via Twitter.'"

This fear is exactly backwards. During a terrorist attack -- during any crisis situation, actually -- the one thing people can do is exchange information. It helps people, calms people, and actually reduces the thing the terrorists are trying to achieve: terror. Yes, there are specific movie-plot scenarios where certain public pronouncements might help the terrorists, but those are rare. I would much rather err on the side of more information, more openness, and more communication. or or

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Mumbai Terrorists Used Google Earth, Boats, Food

The Mumbai terrorists used Google Earth to help plan their attacks. This is bothering some people:

"Google Earth has previously come in for criticism in India, including from the country's former president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

"Kalam warned in a 2005 lecture that the easy availability online of detailed maps of countries from services such as Google Earth could be misused by terrorists."

Of course the terrorists used Google Earth. They also used boats, and ate at restaurants. Don't even get me started about the fact that they breathed air and drank water.

"A Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail today that Google Earth's imagery is available through commercial and public sources. Google Earth has also been used by aid agencies for relief operations, which outweighs abusive uses, she said."

That's true for all aspects of human infrastructure. Yes, the bad guys use it: bank robbers use cars to get away, drug smugglers use radios to communicate, child pornographers use e-mail. But the good guys use it, too, and the good uses far outweigh the bad uses. or

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Mumbai:: What happened and why?

Thanks for your calls and messages of concern.
I am safe, sad and angry.
Safe because I choose to believe that life will go on as usual.
Sad because people I know have lost their loved ones. What can I say or do to comfort them?
Angry because several disturbing questions are racing through my head.

1) Why was Hemant Karkare, the chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), killed? Who killed him and two other top cops? When Karkare was appointed as ATS chief in January this year, he cracked the Thane (on the outskirts of Mumbai) bomb blast that took place a year ago. Most people believed that this blast was the work of Islamic terrorists. Karkare’s investigations revealed that a Hindu right-wing group was responsible for this bomb blast and for a few others too.

Subsequently, following the blasts at Malegaon (a Muslim-dominated town in Maharashtra) in September this year, Karkare and his team discovered that Hindu holy men and women (Sadhus and Sadhvis) along with a military officer and others were involved. Abuses and threats came his way for his investigations into this case. His critics included the top bosses of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

2) Where were the self-proclaimed protectors of Mumbai, the Shiv Sena and the MNS when Mumbai was attacked? These political parties repeatedly attack ordinary, hardworking, poor people from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other states of India who come to Mumbai to seek a living. They recently disrupted life in Mumbai for days by unleashing violence against unarmed North Indians working as taxi drivers, security guards, construction workers, street vendors, etc. Why did these bullies cower in fear instead of flexing their muscles in the battle to defend Mumbai?

3) Why were the TV journalists immaturely and irresponsibly reporting not facts but bytes of information that had a life span of one minute in the imagination of the journalists? These people made a spectacle of the tragedy and the rescue operation. Were the journalists trying to convey their anguish or their excitement? They seemed to be narrating the unfolding drama of a theatrical performance.

4) Do the celebrities invited to speak on behalf of Mumbai represent the people of Mumbai? Their glitzy lifestyles are alien from the daily existence of the masses. Those who pride themselves as the elites are untouched by the misery that plagues the lives of the majority.
In normal times their indifference is cruel and their ignorance deliberate. But on the TV channels these past few days it was garbage that was arrogantly spewing out from their glossy lips. Their statements were inane but definitely not innocuous. The ageing TV star urged people not to pay taxes and suggested brutal attack on our neighbouring country. It is a well-know fact that India has several upper crust tax defaulters who manage to creatively dodge the tax system and to get away with. By not challenging the hatred and violence against a community and a country that these painted faces were preaching, the journalists are guilty of endorsing such vile views.

5) Why did the media focus largely on the tragedy unfolding at the five-star hotels? The newspapers too are filled with stories of the ordeal of the elites. It seems as if there is no need to grieve the killing of more than 50 ordinary people at CST station or the sweeper at Cama hospital. Are some lives more precious than others?

6) Are these luxury hotels Mumbai’s icons? India’s journalists seemed to think so; that’s how they referred to these places. They surely know that ordinary folks in Mumbai are rudely barred from straying into these areas. That hardly matters to them. The editor of a national daily, the Indian Express, tried to stir up the sympathy of his readers for the loss of his “second home” (his words), the Oberoi - Trident hotel.

7) Shouldn’t we overhaul our security establishment in terms of training, equipment, job specification, salaries, resources, and way of functioning? Large sections of the security forces are poorly trained, badly paid, inadequately equipped, wrongly deployed, politically controlled, and harbour communal biases. We need a security set-up to maintain law and order, to enforce the rule of law, to tackle crime and to punish the guilty without prejudice or fear. Instead, what we have is a system that is almost completely rotten and that thrives on exploiting the weak and the defenceless. And the few upright personnel are quickly sidelined or eliminated.

8) Should we foolishly squander personnel and honest tax payers’ money to guard politicians, celebrities and cricketers? Why do they tremble in fear behind protective shields while ordinary folks apparently have no fears and so go unprotected?

9) Can a fractured society outsmart a well-synchronised team executing a meticulously-planned operation? A rigid hierarchical system is at the core of the Indian social matrix. Thus social relations between sections of society are unequal and based on power, status and connections. Your position on the social ladder determines whether you are treated with respect or with contempt. We are unable to express solidarity that transcends caste, class, regional and religious barriers. People considered to be on the lower rungs of the hierarchy are alienated from human society. It’s not too difficult to tear down a weak, rotten, divided society that does not value the lives of all its people equally.

10) Will we ever be able to challenge and defeat the prejudices that are spreading? We should, we will.

chrissie d'costa



We at NAPM unequivocally condemn with shock and deep anguish the brazen and brutal terror attacks in Mumbai that have claimed over 250 lives, and injured about 300 people besides creating mayhem at CST, the lifeline of ordinary toiling Mumbaikar; the Hotel Taj, Oberoi Trident, Nariman House and other places where people were trapped, tortured and killed over 3 days.

We pay homage to all the people who lost their life and limb in this dastardly attack, including all those invisible ordinary Mumbaikars from different states whose death at CST will never make headlines and many of whose dead bodies, their beloved families will never see again, thanks to a callous administration that demanded thousands of rupees for their bodies to be sent back. Our heart goes out to the kith and kin of every person affected by this gruesome crime in this poignant moment.

We salute the selfless police officials, courageous and humane National Security Guards and all commandoes and Marcos who staked their lives until the last person was rescued. The state would do well by providing them appropriate working conditions and timely paraphernalia, instead of just paying posthumous homage. We also underline with fullest appreciation the public spirited compassion of the people who in their own way were part of the brave effort to protect life at extreme personal risk and amidst incalculable trauma, some even losing their lives.

We strongly feel that the Government should take this incident as the final lesson in addressing all the faultlines in its security administration and intelligence failure. Instead of indulging in a wild goose chase and persecuting innocent persons, especially youth from selected communities, buckling under political vested interests and exhausting limited resources, the police and intelligence department must take serious and solid action in all such cases with strict adherence to the Constitution. Government servants who err in their duty, howsoever high they might be, must be held accountable. The Government must also seriously begin to initiate the process of pro-people police reforms and delink the police department from political pressure.

Head-on attacks of such a scale are unprecedented and in a way a consequence of corrupt, sectarian and vicious electoral party politics, demonstrating the crumbling governance and weakening of democracy. It is high time that we, as a nation, reflect on and press for radical and holistic electoral reforms, which will ensure that people don't occupy positions of power through undemocratic, corrupt and familial means. The Reforms should explicitly provide for the Right to Recall any legislator and parliamentarian, who fails to safeguard the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people.

We also fervently appeal to the general public not to succumb to the misconception that draconian laws are panacea to terrorism. More terror laws do not increase security. The country has enough laws to tackle terror. What is required is proper and fair implementation and better coordination between different state agencies.

We also call upon all peace loving people from India and our neighbour state Pakistan to press upon the two Governments to have a no-nonsense approach towards restoring peace in the South Asian region. The peace process, including dialogue and trade between India and Pakistan should continue, notwithstanding such incidents aimed at disrupting progress in mutual harmony. Peace-building efforts must be genuinely taken forward beyond rhetoric and translate into serious action.

Let all our actions lead towards healing and mitigation of all kinds of hate, mistrust, parochial regionalism and communal mudslinging.

Sandeep Pandey D. Gabriele P. Chennaiah Aruna Roy

Mukta Srivastava Medha Patkar Sanjay M.G. Anand Mazgaonkar

Righteous anger yes, but no bloodbath please... (a youth perspective)

Righteous anger yes, but no bloodbath please...
Devika Narayan

I heard the gunfire all night. There was blood and mayhem for three days. The fear has now turned into rage. Anger is a good thing, it shakes us out of our indifference and inaction. I am angry for a number of reasons. I am angry that so many people died in this horrific way. I am angry that we were so ineffective in managing this crisis. There weren't enough ambulances, there weren't enough policemen, (and the ones present were armed with bamboo canes.) it was impossible for the system as a whole to respond appropriately. I am angry that our elected politicians are so casual about this nightmare. I am angry that they didn't respond to the multiple warnings that came from multiple sources. Now we shall watch as they become the mouthpieces for their respective agendas, shouldering one another to get ahead. I am angry at the class divisions that are playing themselves out. Why are we not talking about the dozens of victims at V.T? Why do they have to stand in longer lines to collect their dead? Why do we not value human life irrespective of their caste, class and religion? So yes, the collective outrage of a population is a powerful force.

There is one word that is being flashed repeatedly on our screens which promises to give a focus to our anger and grief. That one word is Pakistan. As a young and extremely outraged citizen I am afraid of the direction that our anger is taking. Afraid, because I see that as a people we seem to have developed a gut-level violent reaction to that word. When I watch the news with my peers I feel the violence in that visceral reaction whenever Pakistan is named. And it fills me with dread. There seems to be an intrinsic inability to distinguish between the people of a country, the governing body, the military and the various (extremist) groups that exist with that region. knowing that Pakistan is a country often at war with itself it is both dangerous and irresponsible to speak of it as if it is a coherent unified whole. Doing so, will only result in two nuclear powers baring their teeth at each other. It will also lead to the alienation of communities within our national boundary. Our news media often seem to forget how sensitive Pakistan as an issue is and play a definite role in kindling these embers. I recognize the fact that in some twisted way, this serves the interest of the media whose revenue today depends on the increase of heart rates.

Moreover, is it not a little too convenient? I hope that even as we make progress in establishing the identity of the agents of this atrocity we don't stop asking questions of our government and police. We ask the tough questions and demand more accountability. Pointing fingers at an outsider should not ease the pressure on our political elite. This is not to say that we don't talk of the ISI or the training camps, this is only to say that we don't let our pain numb our capacity to think. Whipping up public hate against the neighbor may make us feel temporarily better but in the long run this is destructive. Our self righteous rage against Pakistan's incapacity to 'control' its violent groups is a bit misplaced. We are simply amazed that these groups can walk the streets preaching hate and violence. We seem to have cultivated a special skill that allows us to effortlessly turn a blind eye to the devastation and violence committed by Indian extremist groups against fellow citizens. Do we ban them and put their leaders behind bars? No, we allow them unrestricted freedom or sometimes like in Gujarat we choose to democratically re-elect them to office. I don't see the organized group that mass murdered in Orissa behind bars, nor our own home-grown bunch that destroyed the city during the 92-93 riots. It is easy to ignore our hypocrisy when our emotions are volatile and our wounds throbbing. If we don't take a breath to cool off our angry chest-thumping could have disastrous consequences. Yes, we want action. But we most definitely don't want any more blood on our hands. Don't use the language of war.

TERROR ATTACK ON MUMBAI Terror: The Aftermath - by Anand Patwardhan

TERROR ATTACK ON MUMBAI - by Anand Patwardhan

dear all
this got rejected by times of india and hindustan times has sat on it
for 9 days. if u find it useful, do circulate. best, anand


Terror: The Aftermath

The attack on Mumbai is over. After the numbing sorrow comes the blame
game and the solutions. Loud voices amplified by saturation TV: Why
don't we amend our Constitution to create new anti-terror laws? Why
don't we arm our police with AK 47s? Why don't we do what Israel did
after Munich or the USA did after 9/11 and hot pursue the enemy?
Solutions that will lead us further into the abyss. For terror is a
self-fulfilling prophecy. It thrives on reaction, polarization,
militarization and the thirst for revenge.

The External Terror

Those who invoke America need only to analyze if its actions after
9/11 increased or decreased global terror. It invaded oil-rich Iraq
fully knowing that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, killing over
200,000 Iraqis citizens but allowing a cornered Bin Laden to escape
from Afghanistan. It recruited global support for Islamic militancy,
which began to be seen as a just resistance against American mass
murder. Which begs the question of who created Bin Laden in the first
place, armed the madarsas of Pakistan and rejuvenated the concept of
Islamic jehad? Israel played its own role in stoking the fires of
jehad. The very creation of Israel in 1948 robbed Palestinians of
their land, an act that Mahatma Gandhi to his credit deplored at the
time as an unjust way to redress the wrongs done to Jews during the
Holocaust. What followed has been a slow and continuing attack on the
Palestinian nation. At first Palestinian resistance was led by secular
forces represented by Yasser Arafat but as these were successfully
undermined, Islamic forces took over the mantle. The first, largely
non-violent Intifada was crushed, a second more violent one replaced
it and when all else failed, human bombs appeared.

Thirty years ago when I first went abroad there were two countries my
Indian passport forbade me to visit. One was racist South Africa. The
other was Israel. We were non-aligned and stood for disarmament and
world peace. Today Israel and America are our biggest military allies.
Is it surprising that we are on the jehadi hit list? Israel, America
and other prosperous countries can to an extent protect themselves
against the determined jehadi, but can India put an impenetrable
shield over itself? Remember that when attackers are on a suicide
mission, the strongest shields have crumbled. New York was laid low
not with nuclear weapons but with a pair of box cutters. India is for
many reasons a quintessentially soft target. Our huge population, vast
landmass and coastline are impossible to protect. The rich may build
new barricades. The Taj and the Oberoi can be made safer. So can our
airports and planes. Can our railway stations and trains, bus stops,
busses, markets and lanes do the same?

The Terror Within

The threat of terror in India does not come exclusively from the
outside. Apart from being hugely populated by the poor India is also a
country divided, not just between rich and poor, but by religion,
caste and language. This internal divide is as potent a breeding
ground for terror as jehadi camps abroad. Nor is jehad the copyright
of one religion alone. It can be argued that international causes
apart, India has jehadis that are fully home grown. Perhaps the
earliest famous one was Nathuram Godse who acting at the behest of his
mentor Vinayak Savarkar (still referred to as "Veer" or "brave"
although he refused to own up to his role in the conspiracy), murdered
Mahatma Gandhi for the crime of championing Muslims.

Jump forward to 6th December, 1992, the day Hindu fanatics demolished
the Babri Mosque setting into motion a chain of events that still
wreaks havoc today. From the Bombay riots of 1992 to the bomb blasts
of 1993, the Gujarat pogroms of 2002 and hundreds of smaller deadly
events, the last 16 years have been the bloodiest since Partition.
Action has been followed by reaction in an endless cycle of escalating
retribution. At the core on the Hindu side of terror are organizations
that openly admire Adolph Hitler, nursing the hate of historic wrongs
inflicted by Muslims. Ironically these votaries of Hitler remain
friends and admirers of Israel.

On the Muslim side of terror are scores of disaffected youth, many of
whom have seen their families tortured and killed in more recent
pogroms. Christians too have fallen victim to recent Hindutva terror
but as yet not formed the mechanisms for revenge. Dalits despite
centuries of caste oppression, have not yet retaliated in violence
although a small fraction is being drawn into an armed struggle waged
by Naxalites.

It is clear that no amount of spending on defense, no amount of
patrolling the high seas, no amount of increasing the military and
police and equipping them with the latest weaponry can end the cycle
of violence or place India under a bubble of safety. Just as nuclear
India did not lead to more safety, but only to a nuclear Pakistan, no
amount of homeland security can save us. And inviting Israel's Mossad
and America's CIA/FBI to the security table is like giving the
anti-virus contract to those who spread the virus in the first place.
It can only make us more of a target for the next determined jehadi

Policing, Justice and the Media

As for draconian anti-terror laws, they too only breed terror as for
the most part they are implemented by a State machinery that has
imbibed majoritarian values. So in Modi's Gujarat after the ethnic
cleansing of Muslims in 2002, despite scores of confessions to rape
and murder captured on hidden camera, virtually no Hindu extremists
were punished while thousands of Muslims rotted in jail under
draconian laws. The same happened in Bombay despite the Shiv Sena
being found guilty by the Justice Shrikrishna Commission. Under
pressure a few cases were finally brought to trial but all escaped
with the lightest of knuckle raps. In stark contrast many Muslims
accused in the 1993 bomb blasts were given death sentences.

The bulk of our media, policing and judicial systems swallows the
canard that Muslims are by nature violent. Removing democratic
safeguards guaranteed by the Constitution can only make this worse.
Every act of wrongful imprisonment and torture that then follows is
likely to turn innocents into material for future terrorists to draw
upon. Already the double standards are visible. While the Students
Islamic Movement of India is banned, Hindutva outfits like the RSS,
the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and the Shiv Sena remain legal entities. The
leader of the MNS, Raj Thackeray recently openly spread such hatred
that several north Indians were killed by lynch mobs. Amongst these
were the Dube brothers, doctors from Kalyan who treated the poor for a
grand fee of Rs.10 per patient. Raj Thackeray like his uncle Bal
before him, remains free after issuing public threats that Bombay
would burn if anyone had the guts to arrest him. Modi remains free
despite the pogroms of Gujarat. Congress party murderers of Sikhs in
1984 remain free. Justice in India is clearly not there for all.
Increasing the powers of the police cannot solve this problem. Only
honest and unbiased implementation of laws that exist, can.

It is a tragedy of the highest proportions that one such honest
policeman, Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, who had begun to
unravel the thread of Hindutva terror was himself gunned down, perhaps
by Muslim terror. It is reported that Col. Purohit and fellow Hindutva
conspirators now in judicial custody, celebrated the news of Karkare's
death. Until Karkare took charge, the Malegaon bomb blasts in which
Muslims were killed and the Samjhauta Express blasts in which
Pakistani visitors to India were killed were being blamed on Muslims.
Karkare exposed a hitherto unknown Hindutva outfit as masterminding a
series of killer blasts across the country. For his pains Karkare came
under vicious attack not just from militant Hindutva but from the
mainstream BJP. He was under tremendous pressure to prove his
patriotism. Was it this that led this senior officer to don helmet and
ill-fitting bullet proof vest and rush into battle with a pistol? Or
was it just his natural instinct, the same courage that had led him
against all odds, to expose Hindutva terror?

Whatever it was, it only underlines the fact that jehadis of all kinds
are actually allies of each other. So Bin Laden served George Bush and
vice-versa. So Islamic and Hindutva jehadis have served each other for
years. Do they care who dies? Of the 200 people killed in the last few
days by Islamic jehadis, a high number were Muslims. Many were waiting
to board trains to celebrate Eid in their hometowns in UP and Bihar,
when their co-religionists gunned them down. Shockingly the media has
not commented on this, nor focused on the tragedy at the railway
station, choosing to concentrate on tragedies that befell the
well-to-do. And it is the media that is leading the charge to turn us
into a war-mongering police state where we may lead lives with an
illusion of safety, but with the certainty of joylessness.

I am not arguing that we do not need efficient security at public
places and at vulnerable sites. But real security will only come when
it is accompanied by real justice, when the principles of democracy
are implemented in every part of the country, when the legitimate
grievances of people are not crushed, when the arms race is replaced
by a race for decency and humanity, when our children grow up in an
atmosphere where religious faith is put to the test of reason. Until
such time we will remain at the mercy of "patriots" and zealots.

Anand Patwardhan
November 2008

questions about the terror attacks in Bombay

Many more questions about the terror attacks

November 28, 2008 | 11:50 IST

Since we posted unanswered questions about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on Friday morning, many, many, many, readers have mailed us with their own questions that need to be investigated by the security agencies.

If you wish to add questions to this list, please e-mail We will post the most relevant questions here.
# How many terrorists were there? Did they number 20 as Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told a press conference on Thursday? Or did they number many more? If two or three terrorists attacked the CST, how many terrorists were present at the Taj and Trident? Did the CST terrorists drop a grenade/explosive device at Dockyard Road on the way to the station? Or was someone else responsible for that act of terror which claimed three lives?
# The terrorists are said to have set up control rooms at the Taj and Trident hotels, a Cabinet minister told PTI on Thursday. When were these bookings made? A detailed investigation into the bookings made at both hotels in the months, weeks and days before the attacks may reveal the names of suspicious guests who registered there.
# Military sources tell that there was no way the terrorists could have carried so much ammunition with them when they assaulted the two hotels with their guns blazing. They believe the ammunition may have been stored earlier in rooms at both the hotels, perhaps on the higher floors.
# If some of the terrorists had registered at the hotels earlier, could these men/women have left along with the guests who were released? Did the police record the identities and addresses of the guests who were released from both hotels?
# Indian Hotels Chairman Ratan Tata indicated on Thursday that the terrorists had intimate knowledge of the Taj, its service corridors, its layout. Does this mean that they had a mole inside the Taj? Or more worrying, did a couple of them work there at some point of time? Did they have drawings of the layout of the two hotels?
# If the terrorists were Pakistani, how did they have such an intimate knowledge of the terrain? The two or three cowards who attacked the CST on Wednesday night made their way from the CST through a road on the left side of The Times of India building towards the Cama and Albess hospital/Azad Maidan police station, a route that is known only to true-blood Mumbaikars. Were they locals? Or did they conduct extensive reconnisance of the likely routes of escape?
# These same two or three men, who are said to have commandeered ATS Chief Hemant Karkare's police Qualis after shooting him, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar, revealed similar familarity with the road outside the Esplanade Court, making an easy U-turn towards the Metro cinema junction rather than head on the road towards the CST. How did they know this if they were Pakistanis?
# How did those men, whose images have appeared all over the world, get to the CST from Colaba where they are said to have landed by boat? Did they take a taxi? Or did they have local transportation? Did they come by a suburban train, which could explain the firing on one of the suburban train platforms? Who left the grenade on the Gitanjali Express, which killed a Bengali mother?
# The terrorists are said to have done extensive reconnisance of the city.. If they are Pakistanis, how did they get earlier entry to the city unnoticed? Did they come in by boat? Or did they use other routes to escape notice?
# Such an operation could not have been conducted without extensive training and preparation, possibly on models of the Taj and Trident or Chabad House/Nariman House. Could this have been achieved at the rudimentary training camps hosted by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in Pakistan occupied Kashmir? Or was it a more systematised operation conducted by a State agency in a hostile country?
# How did they know Chabad House/Nariman House, which even long-time residents of Colaba -- the area in South Mumbai where the Taj, the Leopold Cafe and Chabad/Nariman House are located -- are unfamiliar with? The choice of this target indicates precision thinking -- it is doubtful if the Lashkar strategists are capable of such deep strategy -- and again points the needle of suspicion at a government intelligence agency in a nation inimical to India or renegades within such a bureau.
# Early on Thursday morning, the television channels spoke about an exchange of fire between the terrorists and the police near the Liberty cinema (which is close to the Metro cinema/Cama hospital, but situated on an inner road). There was even fear expressed that these terrorists would enter the Bombay hospital, but nothing was heard about them thereafter. Where did they go? Were these two/three terrorists the same men who took over the police Qualis and shot at people near the Metro junction? Or have they escaped?
# The police say the two men, who took over the Qualis, grabbed the Skoda that was halted at a police road block near the Girgaum Chowpatty beach. One of them was later killed by the police. Where did the other man go? Is he the Ismail, the Lashkar terrorist who is appparently singing like a canary to the police? Or is he someone else? If these are the two of the three terrorists who attacked the CST, what happened to the third man seen in photographs and video captures? Where did he vanish?
# Another terrorist is said to be in custody. Where was he captured? What has he told the police?
# The Times of India reported on Friday morning that wellknown food critic Sabina Sehgal-Saikia's cellular phone recorded activity in the Raigad area, which is located across the sea from the Taj, where she was staying on the night of the attacks? Nothing has been heard from Saikia for over a day, so how did her phone reach Raigad? Could one of the terrorists have escaped under the guise of a guest to the Raigad area?To this Mohit says: Sabina's husband has clarified that Airtel reps have told him that since the towers around Taj were shut down, it is possible that the phone might have picked up the signal from Raigad tower.
# Could some of the terrorists have come by boat from the Alibag-Murud Janjira area in Maharashtra's Raigad district, rather than from Pakistan? Boats ply through the day from the Alibaug area to the Gateway of India, and it would be easy for terrorists to use this mode of transport rather than high-speed boats which would have attracted the Coast Guard's attention.
# According to a Maharashtra Times report, the two terrorists who killed the three police officers on Wednesday night spoke Marathi! This disclosure casts fresh doubt on the origin of the terrorists. Or did each terrorist from an enemy nation have an Indian accomplice accompanying him?
# If the attacks were restricted to South Mumbai for logistical reasons, who was responsible for the explosion on the taxi near the Santa Cruz airport in northwest Mumbai, which is located at least 25 km from Colaba?