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.