Tuesday, December 2, 2008

India must learn lessons from the Mumbai Attack

India must learn lessons from the Mumbai Attack

Syed Ali Mujtaba

Thank God, the crime against humanity that was on display for sixty hours on our television sets from Mumbai since 26 to 28 November 20008 has at last got over. The entire nation pays heartfelt condolences to those bereaved families that have lost their near and dear ones in this diabolic act of terror. The Mumbai attack was unprecedented of its kind and it could have happened to any city of the world and the response too may have been the same. So there is no point to belittle the sacrifices made by the security forces to bring peace to this panic stricken city. The entire nation salutes those brave soldiers who have brought back the normalcy to the commercial hub of India.

The way the attack on Mumbai was executed suggests that the entire operations must have been meticulous planed for months together. The terrorists were highly novitiate youth; they were “Fidayeen” who had come with a mission to die. So Mumbai attack was not the handiwork of any ordinary terror group and the needle of suspicion falls on few groups that are in the business of terror.

Given the terror profile of such magnitude the fingers obviously points towards Al Qida, the premier terror outfit in the world today. India has been on the hit list of Al Qida, for long. They have chosen Mumbai because they knew India cannot muster global response and they can easily get away by inflicting the maximum damage. The mission was to demonstrate the capability of Al Qida as a terrorist outfit in the world.

The second suspicion falls on Lasker- e –Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohmmad, the two terror outfits based in Pakistan. They are engaged in anti India activity and their focus is to liberate Kashmir through armed militancy. They have been involved into terror activities before like breaching into Ayodhya security cordon, entering into Akshardham temple, and laying an attack on Indian Parliament. This group is highly motivated with well trained youth ready to commit any act of terror at any moment of time. These are the groups which are the spoilers of India- Pakistan peace party. Every time when the two countries try to come close to each other, these groups takes upon the task to play the spoilsports. They have vested interest in keeping the India and Pakistan at the loggerhead because their entire terror network thrives on anti- India bogey. They run a risk of getting dismantled if the India- Pakistan peace process gets back on the rails. This group has precedents of unleashing terror attack in India before and in all probability they could be behind the deadly attack on Mumbai.

There some people who are pointing fingers at saffron terror that has of late come to limelight in India. They argue that the Mumbai carnage was hatched to divert the attention from the Malegoan blast case that was on final stages and could have unmasked a different face of Indian terrorism. They further argue that the terror act was planned to silence those investigating the Malegoan blast case and they have succeeded in eliminating many top ATS official probing the case.

Notwithstanding the sentiments behind such argument, the fact remains that this does not stand to the test of logic. It’s well known that the saffron terror operates at mob level; they can unleash mayhem only in groups, as they did in Gujarat, they have no precedent to take guns and run amok. Secondly the Mumbai attack was an assault on India and given the blinkered patriotism such saffron outfits display, it’s hard to link them with terror operation of such magnitude. So at the end of the days it would be off the mark to blame the saffron outfits for Mumbai carnage.

If the Muslim groups are blaming on the saffron terror, the Hindu groups are pointing fingers towards Indian Mujahadin, the Muslim terror group that has paned up of late in India. Again this argument looks weak because given the kind of weapons the terrorist used and the kind of professionalism they showed, it did not suggests they could be local youth who picks up a brawl on the streets. So no matter how much of anger may be seething in the veins of the Muslim youths of this country, it’s unlikely they could plan such a high level terror operation.

There was an interesting report in the Times of India that linked Mumbai attack to shore up the cause of the liberation of Hyderabad that was integrated into India after police action in 1948. It points towards the e mail purportedly sent by Deccan Mujahideen, a new terror outfit that has sprung up and owes the responsibility of the terror attack on Mumbai. This idea was debunked by the security experts and they say the e mail from Deccan Mujahideen was a divisionary tactics to confuse about the main suspects.

The most intriguing aspect about the Mumbai attack is to ascertain its motive. None of the terrorist demanded any ransom to be paid, no one called to free any of their accomplices locked up in the Indian jails, and no one shouted any slogan for the freedom of Kashmir. All one can say perhaps they desired to celebrate the act of terror and succeeded in gaining global media attention for about sixty hours.

What ever may be the motive behind the Mumbai attack, one thing that comes out very clearly is that the terrorists surely succeeded to bring back Muslim militancy on the centre stage. The Malegoan blast was changing the perception of terrorism in India but the Mumbai terror carnage whitewashed that image. It succeeded to reinforce the stereotype that ‘all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.’

The history of India is littered with the security gaps and innumerable invasion of the country has taken place because of the inadequate security arrangement to defend its borders. The Mumbai terror act has once again exposed the chinks in the security arrangement in the country. A few days ago we all were celebrating the heroics of the Indian navy sinking a Thai trawler, in the Gulf of Aden believed to be having pirates. After this there were talks about Indian navy gaining the blue water capabilities. And then came the news that the terrorists took the sea route to disembark on the gateway of India and every one started talking how did the terrorist got into Mumbai, what happened to the fabled Indian Navy and the Coastguard?

If the security at the sea is pathetic then those on the mainland is still worse. A police officer speaking in a TV pogramme was heard saying that in his 37 years of police service he did not have the training to fire even ten times. The entire police force in India is just for ornament, he was saying and lamented that policeman carry vintage variety of rifles and by the time they can load the bullets and make it ready to fire, the terrorist must have fled a long way from them. His summery was the police force was totally inadequate to meet the security challenges of modern India.

So what are the lessons the Mumbai attack teaches? The first and foremost is that the country requires a rehauling of the entire security apparatus. This is both at the mainland and also of the coastline. The second lesson it teaches is the need for community policing. This is required in each and every locality of the country. The final lesson it conveys is; wake up India how long you want to bleed. If every Indian remains vigilant and united no terror outfit can take the liberty to commit such terrible crime of such magnitude as it happened in Mumbai.


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahooo.com

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