Thursday, November 27, 2008

Shame on the government

I've been watching the news in horror -- this entire situation has been going on far too long. It's been almost twenty hours since the first gun shots, that turned into grenades, that turned into a hostage situation. But while I was watching Bombay burn, a thought kept gnawing me from behind: aren't we in the middle of cracking a terror trail right now (Malegaon). Why is it that the intelligence agencies are only adept at a post-mortem, and not good at any preventive measures? The fact that these guys are still bombing the Taj (its 5:07pm as I type), I can't understand how much ammunition they have hoarded up with them. My guess, that I also heard on TV, is that they checked into some hotel rooms a day or two ago, suitcases packed with grenades and bullets. The PM just addressed the nation -- his choice to do it so late in the day -- but personally, I don't think he should have waited this long. A country needs some sense of leadership, and the Congress certainly did not provide it. I'm not even going to talk about our extremely incompetent Home Minister.

The international news channels have some interesting commentary -- they said that the attack has been planned in time for Thanksgiving (as those five stars had dinner events going on) -- because the attacks are geared towards UK and US nationals. Terrorists have been unable to attack Americans and British in their own countries, and the call for people with British/American passports by the terrorists in the beginning has only cemented this idea -- This just shows how pathetic WE are; that terrorists cannot penetrate those countries, but ours, is easier than easy.

The Indian media is doing what it can. The only channel that is pissing me off a little bit is CNN-IBN as it has a huge screen at the back with its anchors placed on chairs in front very stylishly; as if they are covering elections or cricket. And sure enough, they have started opinion polls, and their chat topics, proving once again that they can and will never be a BBC.

Another point is that these terrorists have specifically targeted Jews -- Nariman House -- could be a game changer. Firstly, Americans won't stand for the Jews being targetted, because the American Jews won't. And Israel will be in the mix soon enough. Actually I think we should learn something from the Israeli's -- perhaps tie up with them and take some security training. I'm afraid to say but we don't seem to have well trained, fit, officers in our countries. And now, with senior leadership of the ATS killed in battle, we can only hope the younger bracket is up to the challenge. The police and defense services also need to be paid well so that top officers don't leave. And just like the army chaps, our police need to be physically fit. It's just something we need to stress on as a country. But I am happy to see that the special forces are taking special care to make sure no more civilian lives are lost. About 800 Army personnel, 400 NSGs, 40 Marine commandos, 600 Rapid Action Force personnel besides Mumbai Police officers are engaged in a fierce gun battle with the militants. That is quite a lot of forces, but yet we see no signs of the situation ending.

Cricket has taken the first hit, with the IPL in danger. Foreigners in other parts of the country are apparently fleeing, and national elections are no longer going to hinge of the economic meltdown. And on the other side, Pakistan has offered a "hotline" from Delhi to Islamabad so that we can share information. And this offer comes in the wake of Zardari claiming all Pakistanis have a piece of India in their heart. And while we have newspapers filled with Zardari's praises, we suddenly get news of these infiltrators coming in by sea from Pakistan. So what is it? Are they as bad as us when it comes to intelligence or just turning a blind eye? Every time we feel closer relations with Pakistan might serve the sub-continent, there are reminders that our neighbours are not to be trusted. It would be something if the government and army of Pakistan is completely unaware of these outfits running in their country. (No offence to my friends there, but my country is my country).

"Deccan Mujahiddin" is the alias for which group, we don't know. Experts are saying this is not Al Qaeda as there are no suicide bombers, but the outfit can change tactics, can't they? Lashkar is involved, apparently, having sent an email from Russia as a red herring. A terrorist just caught (5:38pm) seems to be a wanted Lashkar operative. Is this attack against India, is it against the visitors in India? There is still doubt, obviously. And I hope some RSS, VHP, BJP leaders have the presence of mind to call out to Hindu outfits and ask them NOT to plan attacks against Muslims as a retaliation (as the perpetrators are suspected to be all Muslim at the moment). I wonder if anyone is even capable of that.

My mother just said that she hopes the channels don't harp about the "spirit of Bombay" tomorrow -- instead stress on the point that people are ANGRY and demand action. It's this resilient spirit that allows our politicians to get back to doing nothing very much. And on the other hand, my friend Kundan informs me that many posters online seem to think that Narendra Modi is the man who can protect India from the terrorists.

I'll check in later; probably update this post itself.

Meanwhile my dog is suspicious that the piece of chicken momo I have given her is not as exciting as the one I am eating. Sometimes, I'd like to be her.


Arnab has rightly pointed out that in this attack the terrorists have exposed themselves in this attack -- walking around freely -- the "audacity" of this attack. Watching live news is a little tough because there is so much action -- and we are keeping track of a number of locations -- that putting together a coherent sequence of events is tough. But the NSG and RAF are in the hotels, and fire and grenades can both still be heard, which to me in insane.

Ratan Tata was on TV earlier, and was being asked some really stupid questions like "have you figured out how much damage?" It's still going on for heaven's sake. But he did point out that it seems the terrorists have very intimate knowledge of the buildings.

Advani has landed in Bombay, and immediately starting saying that this attack was worse than anything that happened during the NDA government. As the news pointed out, there had been rumours that the PM and Leader of Opposition (Advani) would fly down together -- much needed symbol of solidarity -- but it hasn't happened. In fact, Advani has shown himself to be rather petty and small minded by playing the blame-game while people are still fighting for their lives.

Suhel Seth came on Times Now and gave a very passionate and correct speech, talking about how pathetic our politicians are. He said that the people at the hotel, hospitals etc are the one who have stood by the people, not the politicians. And that we should delay elections, call a national emergency, and solve this terror crisis. I'm so glad that we are finally getting ANGRY -- Seth also pointed out that our political system has not allowed us to reward our heroes. And he said the same thing my mother did, that Bombay should not rebound in the morning, it should retaliate. Damn straight.

Maybe business houses and rich persons should get together, and without any strings attached, donate money for the armed services, to be used for training, uniforms

But away from the emotional feeling of it all; we need to discuss reasons. My uncle, a former foreign service man, having served in the Middle East called me to say that it probably ties up to the fact that Mulla Omar had recently announced that they were going to go after countries that sent troops to Afghanistan (therefore the call for US/UK citizens). Also, Pakistan and Afghanistan has been increasingly unhappy with our role in Afg; started with bombing at our Kabul Embassy -- this might just be a natural progression. Also, these terrorists have no escape plan, they are ready to die for their cause, so jihads. And they are very well trained. Some great points, and I've tried to contact Times Now, because perhaps the discussion needs to get away from the emotional to the practical now.

Another point he made was about the terrorists coming by sea; at this point it is not very clear where the two ships seized by the navy came from. Reports suggest that to be in Indian waters they had requested permission through normal channels. But from a cell phone left behind by one of the terrorists, one thing is clear -- calls are coming in from Pakistan. I went to the Dawn website to see what they had to say about Bombay, but their report made no mention of who is responsible for the attacks.

Actually, Times Now now (9:26pm) has a security expert from London -- Bob Ayers -- on, and he said that this attack has nothing to do with India the way the Madrid bombings had to do with Spain -- it has to do with attacking westerners everywhere they go. Morderchai Kedar, a Counter Terrorism Expert from Israel says that India needs to get to the root of it, fast, and figure out who sent them. Bob Ayers said that a period of confusion and false reporting always prevails, and that to suggest that Pakistan might be behind this is wrong and dangerous. A chronology of what happened has to be made, and when factual information is at hand, and to speculate on solutions before the facts have been ascertained is unprofessional.

Meanwhile Barkha Dutt is talking to Shobha De.


egg style said...

Most of the blamegame in such circumstances tends towards juvenility, so comment is worth making only after some facts are indeed discernible that may stand judicial scrutiny.

In the meantime, will only repeat a response to your last post on India's presumptive desire for globally/US-approved greatness.

India's success in today's context would mean refusing resolutely to succumb to the divisive agenda of those who invest in mindcontrol tools to have The Majority portrayed in the contours of servile idiocy and The Other in the image of primitive violence.

Indian citizens know better than to believe such obvious falsehoods. Centuries of shared cultural space preceded the horrors of 1857 and its cleaved-apart aftermath. The Independence Movement was about reclaiming that togetherness and thinking for ourselves.

egg style said...

Oh, dogs DO outperform humans when it comes to some suspicions... !!

Anonymous said...

Tie up with Israel...Well NDA tried it but then it wasnt politically acceptable to the Indian polity because close ties with Israel are deemed unacceptable by a large vote bank in India...

IR said...

after this attack we must seriously ask ourselves wether we are a banana republic ,can anybody just walk into our country and kill people ,

is it that simple ? just cross the sea walk in and shoot !

times now is the only channel which is showing some sense of responsibilty , with arnab telling his anchors not to divulge operational details , very brave and correct on their part

ibn and ndtv are repeating the same thing again and again , asking stupid questions

and whats with mumbai spirit , can someone please let this spirit out of the bag so that politicians stop taking poeple for a ride

we will get to know in some time abt who these terrorists actually are , but they are definately not your batla house inspired random muslims , nope, these guys have been fighting for over 24 hrs , they are trained and higly skilled .

unfortunately i dont think our political set up is bold enough to deal with such eventaluties

i dont think this attack will lead to communal tension , people killed in this attack are well off and are victims of a terrorist attack , for a mass based riot to take off an attack must effect a huge mass of people , for them to get instigated enough to kill other ordinary people

the purpose of this pakistan backed attack is to embarrass india , we cancell our tour to pak on security grounds ( so does the rest of the world) the englishmen cancell their tour in india, spreading an image that india is unsafe.

i really hope we are not bombarded with articles and discussions claiming the pak establishment had nothing to do with this ( as you have pointed out )

very good point on jews being attacked , jews are a very powerful lobby in the US ,and might exert some serious pressure on the obama administration to take action against pak.

on a very cynical note i dont think anything will change in india unless politicians and their kins get directly affected by such attacks, there will be the usual we are serious , we will take action and then everybody goes back to sleep,

unfortunately for us indians

Ksingh said...

have to agree full marks to arnab for his channels coverage. ibn has gone for glitz, i mean they had a chat session set up by 4pm on their website about if shivraj patil shud be sacked or not.

NDTV has officialy lost the plot on their 20th annivesary. As i type and chat with you mahima, there is a recap of the shobha de interview. that was followed up with mahesh bhatt and javed jafferey.

also did advani n manmohan travel tgether, cause i dont think so and ndtv keeps saying that they did.

the level of planning which has gone into this attack is something else. leopold is a tiny cafe for those familiar with bomaby but they knew the impact it would have if they attacked. for 24 hrs they have been firing non stop. but most importantly the way in which the top 3 of the ATS have been taken out. take the top brass out and leave the force confused.

Miss Muttoo said...

I was actually SO happy to hear Shobha De speak. She was furious and rightfully so.
The point she made that I especially made (and which you mentioned your Mom also spoke about)...was how it is ridiculous that everyone is speaking about the stoicism of the citizens. She said we spend tons of money protecting and paying our politicians but what are they doing to protect us? And the nerve of harping on about how Sonia and Advani are quietly going about their jobs "comforting people" together. That's their job and they DARE not (and CAN NOT) use this time to bicker or push political agends.
Sadder day even...that we are happy that for one certain instance, our politicans are quietly doing what they're supposed to.
This is heartbreaking and just ridiculous. It just needs to stop.
Fresh firing at the Taj? What's this?

Miss Muttoo said...

And the three top brass were just sitting ducks...all three in one car...
And the deccan'll be interesting to see how our Intelligence folks crack this...and how long it'll take for them to wisen up.
And re: K Singh...apparently all three (Sonia, Manmohan and Advani)traveled together as NDTV couldn't stop stating!

Shivangi said...

I agree with the comment above. Shobhaa De made some really good points and maybe the politicians should just stay away.

As for attacking the foreigners- maybe something to remember is that 95 of the 110 dead are Indians. Killing the Americans/British is a 'bonus'

I really think the forces and the government is doing all they can do at this point. What is shameful is how the 'intelligence' (and I use this term rather loosely) fails everytime- has been since a long time.

The coverage has been good- what does irk me is this talk about the buildings- yes, they are landmarks- yes, they are beautiful buildings- but that is what they are- buildings. People were MURDERED there- how about talking about them- about the ones killed senselessly than the damage to the hotels.

Shivangi said...

As for NDTV claiming that Advani (god forbid he becomes the PM), Sonia Gandhi and the PM came down together- I saw Advani's interview where he said he flew down with Jaswant Singh separately? Javed Jaffery was right when he said that if they did fly down together, it was really the least they could do.

mahima said...

Yeah actually Shivangi, now that you point out, we have only heard news about the buildings and the foreign nationals (with something about the Taj/Oberoi Indian guests thrown in), but the life lost at the CST are lost in the commentary...

Maybe it will take VIP areas to take some action, well, I think we all know thats what will do it... but like Kundan told me over the phone: what action we take now -- after this attack -- will define exactly what kind of a country India really is.

Miss Muttoo said...

Barkha did tell Verappa to shut it and to stop pushing his agenda, but as Mahima just mentioned to me a minute again... she probably wouldnt have if it was one of her delhi social circuit.
Yeah Jaaved Jaafri Mahesh Bhatt fully went on the emotional tangent.
It's horrific...but not as horrific as people screaming from their rooms
There was this snippet of Barkha talking to a couple of people outside when a couple of hostages were being hustled out.
They were trying to tell her they couldn't see much as it happened so quickly...but she kept asking seminal questions such as , "did they look scared."

mahima said...

They are angry with IBN.

Shivangi said...

I was talking with my friend about this. The coverage is not THAT big here in Germany but I think they just take it as something that happens in India- cause I tell them about blasts going off every couple of months.
Also, this is def not one of the biggest terrorist attacks in India- it is more visible, sure- but Kashmir sees this on a much larger scale virtually every week. The difference here is that the 'elite' have been targeted so the news is bigger.
Anyway, before I went on this rant- the point I wanted to make was that as I told the people here- maybe now- after this- we will get our act together. Have a little less bureaucracy, a little more action. N I am glad we will def not go the American way of bombing other countries- even when we have evidence against them.

IR said...

more than 35 hours and there is still no end to this problem ,

as i said earlier on your blog, it is the middle class in indian cities which is being attacked now , it is no longer abt some random blast in kashmir or at a political rally , the targets are places where the indian people eat , enjoy , shop

as news unfolds we might find unfortunately people we know and can indetify with as victims of the attack ,

i have just heard that 2 of my juniors from b- school were shot dead at leopald cafe , one of them was engaged to get married end of this year ....

Ksingh said...

IR : sorry to hear about your juniors.

but i just want to point out one of the reasons we are in this situations is that , we always thought - " this cant happen in my posh south bombay hotel".

The "random" blasts in kashmir are also happening at stations or at busy, crowded Lal chowk.

Lets not make this about mumbai getting attacked, hence india should wake up. India has been attacked and badly , which is why action needs to be taken.

Miss Muttoo said...

Really sorry to hear about your friends.

But I have to say, its not just the middle class anymore. It's everyone. The hotels are really the cornerstones of economic India. Big deals... "big" people... all of it.
I think they're targeting a whole strata of people now.

mahima said...

IR: Really sorry about your juniors.

Another point, and maybe this needs another post -- while this attack may have ALSO been directed at the taj, oberoi, but lets not forget that non VIP targets have been the areas of the most loss of lives -- VT station, the hospital... they have attacked rich, poor, indian and foreign alike. in one clean neverending sweep

egg style said...

Sincere condolences to all victims of this outrage, including your B school colleagues, IR. It is tragic, and should never have happened.

It is always at moments of such intense grief that a country's most profound self must assert itself. India is, above all, a thoughtful country, not an easily provoked or baitable one. It is stronger than its enemies think, let's be clear about that.

Anonymous said...

suhel seth was very right in saying that mumbai should retaliate and not rebound. where are our leaders at a time of crisis like this? shivraj patil is such an inept home minister he should be sacked immediately.

Anonymous said...

suhel seth was very right in saying that mumbai should retaliate and not rebound. where are our leaders at a time of crisis like this? shivraj patil is such an inept home minister he should be sacked immediately.

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We're a publication dedicated to covering issues of press freedom and
journalism around the world.

We have an online magazine as well that we're always looking to update
and I'm currently looking for journalists and bloggers from India who
are covering the Mumbai situation who would like to contribute a piece
about how they reported the crisis on the ground.

We're curious how press freedom and journalist access is on the ground
in Mumbai with the current violence and how journalists are dealing
with covering the situation.

The piece would be a part of our online site and we do compensate our
authors. If this is any interest to anyone on your newspaper please
let me know..I'd be extremely happy to work with you.

You can check our website out at :

Thanks again and I hope to hear from you soon,

Joshua Barton

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

The main lesson the terrorist learned from this attack is,They can play safe anytime.3 man can carry an attack with all the forces of this country for hours for lack of cordination and equipment within local forces and .And they have the full support
of a very passive and coward leaders,who will play time tactic to delay the issue,people will soon forget,Its just bygone. Better don't talk about it,it brings bad souvenir. And forgotten by everyone,till new attack by some other terrosist. Then again some new measures will be taken and some bold descision to fool the people of India.Its a child game for some terrorist to plan attack on Indian soil. its been going on and on, Government will keep changing,it will be same again and again, whom to blame for it. Poor innocent people will pay the price of foolishness of whole population.Its not politicians fooling them;its their choice to be fooled. May be its way of life of indians. Well good luck...... Next time,we will again thank our brave soldiers who lost their lives fighting with terrorist. again many will lose their dear ones,The country will mourn for the death of innocents.At least Pak has no neighbourgh like Isreal.If not it would have been compelled to beg for excuse,As now he can celebrate its victory,Ten man against the whole army of india.Won the battle,because the actual leaders will be able to tackle the situation.Long live india and its people (But in terror)

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If we can recollect a previous news when US blamed Russia for the earthquake in Georgio. What do you guys think? Is it really possible to create an earthquake by humans?
I came across this [url=]article about Haiti Earthquake[/url] in some blog it seems very interesting, but conspiracy theories have always been there.

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