India - International Relations
India´s 9/11: the impotence of India
Lynus Misquitta argues that Indians have declared war on terror. Patriotism has engulfed the nation like it did in 1947. Terrorism is going to be on top of the agenda for any future elections. From Mumbai.
There is a proverb in Portuguese that says “Deixa a porta aberta e até o santo peca”. It means if you keep your door open even the saint will get tempted to commit sin. This is the story of India’s 9/11. The story is of impotence of India in general and the state of Maharashtra in particular. The political leadership and the relevant defence units have taken things for granted inspite of the fact that earlier there were bomb blasts in Bangalore, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. Mumbai was next and the state administration had received more than 6 warnings over the last 2 years. Government of Maharashtra very well knew that the Taj Mahal hotel is of heritage value and so instead of guarding it with commandos, and A to Z security these vital edifices that are a big asset to our economy were left with nominal security cover and that too inspite of the warnings received and telephone intercepts detected that the attack would come from the sea. Surely there had been dry runs and the terrorists knew that the authorities were dragging feet specially night time when the coastal belt remained dormant.
Innocent commuters at V.T. (Victoria Terminus) now called the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, were randomly shot in cold blood and the carnage that took place at the Taj and the Oberoi and Nariman House was beyond description. Employees, visitors, regular patrons, foreign guests and assorted dignitaries met their unexpected waterloo at the hands of the hardcore terrorists that came from Pakistan by sea. For 60 hours the city of Mumbai was paralysed, tense and after everything was over there was eerie silence broken by staccato sobs of those who had lost their loved ones. The scene was heart-breaking as corpses were strewn all over the hotels and most were burnt by the grenades the terrorists lobbed in the 800 rooms of the Taj and around 500 odd rooms of Oberoi.
“Enough is enough” and the Indians as a whole are taking a pledge to fight terrorism in all manner possible due to the procrastination and lethargy cultivated by the bureaucracy whose wheels do not move till the palms are greased. The slogan is ”Perform or perish”, and this time people are not going to forget as the bureaucracy and the defense services are paid to do their job. Besides the commandos are given as security to political leaders who flaunt their positions to make themselves felt, with the AK-47 toting personnel guarding them. People want this kind of security to be given to all vital installations first and then to the innumerable 2nd string political leaders. What is the use when Mumbai economy is attacked. It affects the whole of India as Mumbai is the finance capital of this nation. It is exactly this equation that is being ignored by the Indian politicians. But it has a cascading effect - a negative cascading effect - that even affects the prestige of these same politicians in power as they will surely be voted out at the coming elections. Even at this juncture they are trying to introduce tough measures that have to be passed by Parliament instead of taking out an Ordinance to nip things in the bud.
This time people are not going to forget as the bureaucracy and the defense services are paid to do their jobs.
Rajiv Desai writing on The Times of India says that “Politicians and bureaucrats and their cohorts try to operate a modern nation state with command and control techniques more suited to the colonial era”. They have not learnt any lesson as in the Bombay blasts of 1993 the RDX was brought by boats from Pakistan. Even this time the hardcore terrorists came from Pakistan by sea. An SMS is doing the rounds in India saying: “Don’t worry about the terrorists coming by boat, they will end up dead. Worry more about those who come by your vote”. The India Today magazine has launched a movement titled ‘declare war on terror’ and are going to build public opinion on a sustained basis. For this they have pledged to use all their media platforms to keep this ‘terror’ issue in public consciousness till the Government delivers on its promises to protect the citizens of India. This movement will push for change in policy and law and press for efficiency and alertness in civil administration. This movement that grows in leaps and bounds everyday will expose corruption and incompetence that endangers our security. The Editor-in-chief of this magazine, Aroon Purie, rightly says that “we are a rotten state whose insides have been pillaged by politicians and bureaucrats who masquerade as public servants".
Under the above circumstances, when it is very clear that our internal security has failed in every respect and that too after repeated terror warnings going unheeded, it is foolish to go to war with Pakistan even when all the data collected shows the hand of Pakistan on the assault on our financial capital of India - Mumbai. Actually Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have timed the assault on Mumbai, in order to provoke India to declare war on them so that they can shift their troops from western to eastern borders with India and send a message to Barrack Obama that the threat from India prevents them from taking action on the Taliban and other terrorist outfits.
Moreover, both India and Pakistan have atomic weapons in their military arsenal and it is foolish to go to war specially when we have proved to the world that we are a soft state. They say prevention is better than cure. First we should try this angle before going to war. This is not the first time we are targeted and our leaders could not even arm us properly to face just 10 hi-tech armed terrorists who disrupted life in Mumbai for more than 3 days. I say again that our Mumbai police were ill-equipped because 5 top police officers among others, were shot dead in a Jeep as the bullets used by these terrorists went through the metal jackets they were wearing or maybe because these jackets could not give protection to the vital parts of the body like the neck. Another important factor was the delay in sending the commandos (NSG) National Security Guards as they took 10 vital hours to reach from Delhi to the scene of terrorist attack in Mumbai (normally it should take just 3 hours). Here again, why the commandos (NSG) had to come from Delhi? Why are they not kept ready in every state of the Union?
Our leaders could not even arm us properly to face just 10 hi-tech armed terrorists who disrupted life in Mumbai for more than 3 days.
Another factor that indirectly helped the terrorists was the ‘breaking news’ given by eager television reporters that helped those who directed the terrorists to know what exactly our forces were doing. In the turmoil, tension and the darkness of the night there was no one taking control and directing the operations deftly. Everything was going wrong for the victims trapped in the crossfire and that is why there were many casualties. The terrorists were sharpshooters without any emotions and they shot at anything called “life”. They wanted to do the maximum damage to accomplish their suicide mission. They came to die and so their intentions were scary especially when they possessed RDX. Providentially the Taj was saved though ravaged beyond recognition. But it could have been blown up.
The impact of the terrorist attack is huge not only in terms of actual loss inflicted in terms of life and property but in terms of fear psychosis generated that has hurt the core sectors of the economy. To add to this unexploded bombs with RDX were found behind the Taj and a week later at CST along with the baggage of the victims of the tragedy. Sanitisation of the places vandalized by the terrorists is still going on, lest they have left more bombs across the city. Meanwhile travel and tourism is affected and hotels have started slashing tariffs in order to survive as the attack has come at the height of the tourist season in India. Travel advisories from foreign countries have led to a dip in air travel with consequent loss to the aviation industry. We have to take very stringent steps immediately to curb terrorism, otherwise the holding of 2010 Asian Games in Delhi will be affected. So far 3 Union and State Ministers are eased out. Actually, the general opinion was to take them to task before showing them the door, for just easing out from their positions does not set a good precedent.
The youth of India are asking themselves if it is wise to elect governments who are unfit to save the citizens and the tourists to this wonderful land. Roughly 10,000 crores of rupees are spent every time India goes to the polls. The question is: are these people we are electing dedicated to their manifesto where they make promises to better our lives? Leave alone bettering our lives, if these elected governments cannot save our lives, what is the meaning of spending so much money on elections? Even now, those who have failed to do their duty in all these attacks on Indian cities especially the recent attack in Mumbai are responsible for the mayhem and slaughter and carry the blood of innocents on their hands. Those who are responsible for lack of vigilance, supplying substandard armaments, personnel, and those who did not heed to the ample warnings received over the last 2 years will have to pay a heavy price one way or the other. If these people have any conscience or character they should resign forthwith as the country’s honour and glory and prosperity is at stake. Indians have declared war on terror. Patriotism has engulfed the nation like it did in 1947. Terrorism is going to be on top of the agenda for any future elections. Hail India.