Mumbai Struggles to Recover from Trauma of 26/11

By Ram Puniyani

Just a year ago, Mumbai witnessed worst of the terrorist attacks. 26/11 2008 will always be remembered for the wrong reasons. This was an operation planned meticulously by a group of jeans tee shirt wearing terrorists numbering nearly 10. It seems they high-jacked a Gujarat registered fishing vessel on the high seas, sailed near Sassoon docks and reached Gateway of India in dinghies. They were carrying heavy backpacks; and divided themselves into 5 teams and unleashed mayhem mainly at CST, G.T. Hospital, Metro Cinema, Hotel Taj, Hotel Trident and Nariman House. The blasts took place at these places and also at Colaba market, Cama Hospital, Nehru Road (Vile Parle), NB Road (Malad) and at Free Press Road.

The attack left 126 people-98 civilians, 14 policemen and 14 foreigners dead and 327 injured. The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare, who was investigating Malegon blasts, was also killed in this episode of violence. The major deaths took place at CST station and in Hotels Taj and Trident. Despite this what did not find much coverage was the attack on CST, while media could not take its eyes-lenses off the plight of affluent. It was said, ‘enough is enough’, meaning that Pakistan has been doing this to ‘us’ time and over again, now is the time to retaliate. The popular yoga Guru Baba Ramdeo said that India should attack Pakistan to avenge for this act and to ensure that these acts don’t repeat. He even promised to fund the war from his own resources. His was not the only voice on the issue. Many others also felt Pakistan must be taught a lesson a la US, which attacked Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. Some regard that it is due to these retaliatory attacks by US due to which the terror attacks did not recur there. This is a faulty logic on many scores.

The US intervention in Afghanistan has trapped US more than any time before. It seems to have been dragged in the murky waters of the oil rich zone, regretting the fateful moments when it launched the brutal attack. We need to realize that though the terrorist groups do emerge from the soil of Pakistan, they are more close to the Military not to the democratic regime which is in saddle today. The Pakistan based Military-Mullah Complex had been hand in glove with the policies of US. Now the democratic government wants to eradicate terrorism realizing that it is a Frankenstein’s monster created by the US and today Pakistan is the biggest victim of the terror groups, so created.

There was a talk of making the anti terror laws more stringent. Here one can see that the very oppressive Patriot Act of US, which was brought in the wake of 9/11 WTC attack has served no purpose and the most horrendous Gunatonamo Bay torture chambers have not resulted in a single break through. The terrorist who have been trained to give their life for a ‘cause’ in the Madrassas set up in Pakistan by the US-CIA-ISI route, are not the one’s who will buckle under third-fourth degree tortures. For them life is a mere preparation for entering the much promised Jannat, with all its goodies. Of course civic society was so rattled after 26/11 that in the candle vigil marches anti Pakistan hysteria was on open display. The failure to prevent this attack was attributed totally to the politicians and some of these marchers even carried the placards labeling politicians as a terrorist. This could have been the limit of frustration of the civic society!

We need to look beyond our frontiers to locate the cause of this painful phenomenon. One knows that Pakistan based terror outfits were the US outsourced stations to achieve its goal of controlling the oil wealth of the central Asian region. In addition, earlier the Pakistan military regime had been fattening itself with due support and encouragement from US state department. The military regime was playing the role of US outpost in this region. Also military regime was against the Indo Pak friendship. One recalls that when Vajpayee talked of peace and went in the bus to shake hands with Nawaj Sharif, Pakistan Prime Minister, the military boss Musharraf, silently, without sanction from the prime minister infiltrated in to Kargil. The idea of Musharraf, the army strong man, was to stall the process of peace between India and Pakistan. Strained relations between these two neighbors works to the advantage of Military complex. Even now one can see that since Zardari started talking peace, the attack by Al Qaeda outfit might have been the military’s way to stall the peace process. So what one infers is, the stronger the democratic Government, more peaceful will be the region. More the Pakistan military is in its barracks, more of peace we can expect in the region.

Many other aspects got added up in the tragic incident. Since the 26/11 occurred slightly after the Malegaon blast, a blast after which Maharashtra ATS Chief was successful in nabbing Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Dayanand Pandey and company. He was facing the ire of Hindu right wing for his work. Under pressure or for what other reasons, he was also killed in the 26/11 attack. Many confusing news came in, the place where he was killed was alternately told to be in front of Metro or in Cama lane. The then minority affairs minister A. R. Antulay’s simple question as to whether Hemant Karkare was killed by terrorism plus some thing else remained unanswered and got submerged in the massive outburst which did not want to hear anything on this score. Karkare’s post mortem report is still a secret, the committee which investigated the event Prdhan Committee, its report remains locked in the cupboards of state machinery. The bullet proof jacket which Karkare was wearing is missing. The widows of slain police officers have raised lot of questions, which remain unanswered. The demand for a sincere probe into Karkare’s death remains on the margins, not being taken seriously at all. Does some one want to hide something?

The situation needs to be brought under control. Terrorism has to be rooted out. But surely terrorism is a symptom of a deeper disease, talking about the underlying reasons is not taken up seriously. The symptomatic measures of tightening security, bringing new gadgets are easier part of the story. Demand for police reforms from a section of Peace activists is good gesture but just a first step in the direction. We do need to punish the guilty of all the crimes, built around religion or language. We also have to look beyond our borders to see that primary source of cancer is also addressed in a rational manner. Emotional response will serve no purpose. We do need to induct professionalism in our security agencies, cover our flanks, encourage peace in the region and ensure that Kasabs are not fed on the diet during their training, which is provided by the carnages happening here in different parts of the country.

(Ram Puniyani could be contacted on


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