Sunday, November 30, 2008


The brazen attack on Mumbai is just the latest in a string of attacks on India that are growing bolder by the day. The pictures of terrorists walking around the lobbies of Taj, Oberoi and the Trident, flashing a smile while unleashing carnage with their automatic rifles and grenades are etched in the minds of all of us, Indians. Mumbai has been a target of terrorists attacks in the past and it has always managed to bounce back in no time. The "Spirit of Mumbai" - getting on with life as if nothing happened - has been appreciated so much that it has become stuff of legends. Dare I say, we have always mistook the helplessness of Mumbaikars to be the "Spirit of Mumbai".

Some of the hostages speaking out on TV tell tales of the terrorists laughing while spraying bullets at the helpless hostages. This is beyond my comprehension. I can comprehend a person being angry about Kashmir or about India's proximity to the west but what can drive a person to grab an automatic rifle and shoot innocent civilians is something that I will never ever understand.

Although anything concrete is yet to emerge from the tough stance displayed by India, but it is a welcome development to see the response of the Government. The demand made to Pakistan to send the ISI chief to India showed their resolve. It is true that Pakistan is also a victim of terror but we should be able to separate the different forces at work. Pakistan's conflict is with the Al-Qaeda groups in its North West Frontier that wish to unleash terror in the interior. Pakistan is not concerned about the groups like Lashkar which are not out to create disturbance in Pakistan but are out to destroy India. Faces of terror like Dawood Ibrahim and the leader of Lashkar-e-Toiba roam freely in the heart of Pakistan, often under security cover provided by the Government.

There are a million things that the Government could do to prevent a repeat of an attack of this magnitude. The biggest failure was that of intelligence. It is impossible and unacceptable to believe that the police had no inkling of such an attack. Also, the coast guard is a joke and we cannot count on them to keep our coasts safe. At the same time, the fact that we had to fly in NSG from Delhi to flush out 10 terrorists in Mumbai is a scary reminder that our local law
enforcement is not in a position to deal with the new age threats.

In my opinion, the first course of action should be a cash reward and provision of a safe haven for anyone who gives information that leads to discovery of weapon staches and prevention of attacks. This I find is sorely lacking today. An attack of this magnitude takes involvement of tens if not hundreds of people and all we would need to foil this attack is for one of the members involved to be motivated by the cash reward. Also, we need an overhaul of the whole intelligence system which is clearly incapable of protecting us from the threat that we are faced with.

I have no doubts that India will recover from the attacks as it always has - mostly because there is no other choice. The overwhelming majority of Indians are sensible enough to understand the situation and not let the heightened communal forces tear them apart. From the news programs, it is clear that we are sick and tired of divisional politics and I hope this serves as a warning for idiots like Raj Thackerey and Narendra Modi who bank on creating divisions within us.