‘India not serious about dealing with terrorism’ :::Suman Guha Mozumder

28 11 2008

Source : Rediff.com

November 28, 2008 02:58 IST“I talked to a retied Indian diplomat and he said that a ship came from Karachi. Of course, Pakistan would say that ‘we have nothing to do it’, which may be true. But what worries me is the statement by PM Singh that terrorists were based outside the country,” Ganguly said.

The Indian government’s lack of seriousness in dealing with terrorism is the reason terrorists keep on striking in the country, according to Sumit Ganguly, director of the India Studies Institute at Indiana University.

“I think the way they struck — in an extraordinarily violent and sweeping fashion — was possible because India has not been serious enough about addressing the terrorist threat. One does not have to agree with (Bharatiya Janata Party leader) L K Advani [Images] to reach this conclusion,” Ganguly, holder of the Rabindranath Tagore Professorship in Indian Cultures and Civilizations, told rediff.com.

He, however, noted that India has responded very well in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Mumbai.

“They have not panicked, and they are proceeding systematically. All that is very creditable,” Ganguly said.

He was quick to add, “Simply saying ‘we will maintain our resolve in the face of this terrorist threat’ is not enough. It is one thing to maintain your resolve after bombs go off and quite another to develop serious database of terrorists, to go after them, to disrupt the network and to make this a national priority,” Ganguly said.

“I just do not see the evidence for that. This attitude has emboldened some people,” he said.

Ganguly agreed that the timing of the terror attack on India’s financial capital was significant, right after the peaceful polls in Jammu and Kashmir [Images] and only a week before the USIBC was slated to take a large delegation of nuclear power companies.

Was this an attempt to hit the growing US-India relationship, especially on the economic front?

“That is clearly one element. This is a message (for India) that getting too close to the United States will cost them. Also, it is designed to undermine India’s financial stability,” Ganguly said.

“Why not strike somewhere else? Why Mumbai, the place expatriates and Americans frequent. It is clearly designed to send a message that India is an unsafe place to do business,” Ganguly said.

He said that there is no point talking about the terrorist attack now. “What’s the point of talking about it? Why has it (a national plan to fight terrorism) not been done on a war footing? ,” he said.

“I think outside Iraq, India has seen the largest number of terrorist attacks in the past year. This is not an occasional episode. This has become a routine sort of calamity and when it becomes so, the government) should treat it as a national priority. It is not something that you respond to in an ad hoc fashion, however well you respond after the attack,” Ganguly said.

Speaking on Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s [Images] statement, that India should not react in a knee-jerk fashion, Ganguly said, “Of course he has to say that. He cannot say that ‘let me see if one of our people did this.'”

“Dr Singh is not given to pointing fingers and drawing some quick conclusions unless he has some kind of evidence,” he said. “Nonetheless, one should not draw any conclusion right away (about the origin of the terrorist attack),” Ganguly said.





Some questions about the terror attacks

28 11 2008

Source REdiff.com

November 28, 2008 11:50 IST
Last Updated: November 28, 2008 14:16 IST

Some unanswered questions about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai need to be answered. If you wish to add questions to this list, please do e-mail questionsterror@rediffmail.com and we will post the most relevant questions here.


  • How many terrorists were there? Did they number 20 as Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told a press conference on Thursday? Or did they number many more? If two or three terrorists attacked the CST, how many terrorists were present at the Taj and Trident? Did the CST terrorists drop a grenade/explosive device at Dockyard Road on the way to the station? Or was someone else responsible for that act of terror which claimed three lives?
  • The terrorists are said to have set up control rooms at the Taj and Trident hotels, a Cabinet minister told PTI on Thursday. When were these bookings made? A detailed investigation into the bookings made at both hotels in the months, weeks and days before the attacks may reveal the names of suspicious guests who registered there.
  • Military sources tell rediff.com that there was no way the terrorists could have carried so much ammunition with them when they assaulted the two hotels with their guns blazing. They believe the ammunition may have been stored earlier in rooms at both the hotels, perhaps on the higher floors.
  • If some of the terrorists had registered at the hotels earlier, could these men/women have left along with the guests who were released? Did the police record the identities and addresses of the guests who were released from both hotels?
  • Indian Hotels Chairman Ratan Tata indicated on Thursday that the terrorists had intimate knowledge of the Taj, its service corridors, its layout. Does this mean that they had a mole inside the Taj? Or more worrying, did a couple of them work there at some point of time? Did they have drawings of the layout of the two hotels?
  • If the terrorists were Pakistani, how did they have such an intimate knowledge of the terrain? The two or three cowards who attacked the CST on Wednesday night made their way from the CST through a road on the left side of The Times of India building towards the Cama and Albess hospital/Azad Maidan police station, a route that is known only to true-blood Mumbaikars. Were they locals? Or did they conduct extensive reconnisance of the likely routes of escape?
  • These same two or three men, who are said to have commandeered ATS Chief Hemant Karkare’s [Images] police Qualis after shooting him, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar, revealed similar familarity with the road outside the Esplanade Court, making an easy U-turn towards the Metro cinema junction rather than head on the road towards the CST. How did they know this if they were Pakistanis?
  • How did those men, whose images have appeared all over the world, get to the CST from Colaba where they are said to have landed by boat? Did they take a taxi? Or did they have local transportation? Did they come by a suburban train, which could explain the firing on one of the suburban train platforms? Who left the grenade on the Gitanjali Express, which killed a Bengali mother?
  • The terrorists are said to have done extensive reconnisance of the city. If they are Pakistanis, how did they get earlier entry to the city unnoticed? Did they come in by boat? Or did they use other routes to escape notice?
  • Such an operation could not have been conducted without extensive training and preparation, possibly on models of the Taj and Trident or Chabad House/Nariman House. Could this have been achieved at the rudimentary training camps hosted by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in Pakistan occupied Kashmir? Or was it a more systematised operation conducted by a State agency in a hostile country?
  • How did they know Chabad House/Nariman House, which even long-time residents of Colaba — the area in South Mumbai where the Taj, the Leopold Cafe [Images] and Chabad/Nariman House are located — are unfamiliar with? The choice of this target indicates precision thinking — it is doubtful if the Lashkar strategists are capable of such deep strategy — and again points the needle of suspicion at a government intelligence agency in a nation inimical to India or renegades within such a bureau.
  • Early on Thursday morning, the television channels spoke about an exchange of fire between the terrorists and the police near the Liberty cinema (which is close to the Metro cinema/Cama hospital, but situated on an inner road). There was even fear expressed that these terrorists would enter the Bombay hospital, but nothing was heard about them thereafter. Where did they go? Were these two/three terrorists the same men who took over the police Qualis and shot at people near the Metro junction? Or have they escaped?
  • The police say the two men, who took over the Qualis, grabbed the Skoda that was halted at a police road block near the Girgaum Chowpatty [Images] beach. One of them was later killed by the police. Where did the other man go? Is he the Ismail, the Lashkar terrorist who is appparently singing like a canary to the police? Or is he someone else? If these are the two of the three terrorists who attacked the CST, what happened to the third man seen in photographs and video captures? Where did he vanish?
  • Another terrorist is said to be in custody. Where was he captured? What has he told the police?
  • The Times of India reported on Friday morning that wellknown food critic Sabina Sehgal-Saikia’s cellular phone recorded activity in the Raigad area, which is located across the sea from the Taj, where she was staying on the night of the attacks? Nothing has been heard from Saikia for over a day, so how did her phone reach Raigad? Could one of the terrorists have escaped under the guise of a guest to the Raigad area?
  • Could some of the terrorists have come by boat from the Alibag-Murud Janjira area in Maharashtra’s Raigad district, rather than from Pakistan? Boats ply through the day from the Alibaug area to the Gateway of India, and it would be easy for terrorists to use this mode of transport rather than high-speed boats which would have attracted the Coast Guard’s attention.
  • If the attacks were restricted to South Mumbai for logistical reasons, who was responsible for the explosion on the taxi near the Santa Cruz airport in northwest Mumbai, which is located at least 25 km from Colaba?
  • Uttara wants to know:

  • If the terrorists are interested in something, how come they have not made any demands in spite of having taken so many hostages? If they kept the hostages for so long, they should have started negotiations also. This indicates that they have some other, larger ultimate objective. What is that, and has it been investigated?
  • The Deccan Mujahideen [Images] may or may not be a valid front. Has the Andhra Pradesh police and security forces started investigating that? What are the results of that?
  • Has there been any additional discussion on the terrorists who might have escaped into Bombay city, apart from these three locations? If the dead terrorists had blueprints of the major areas in the city, it means that they might launch an attack on these locations after the Taj, Oberoi and Colaba encounters are over. Have the police been investigating this, and has there been any safety precautions? The names of these places should be circulated, and civilians asked to refrain from going to those locations, so that casualties can be at a minimum. When will this be done?
  • Ravi wants to know:

  • Why did the terrorists not blow up the full building itself? What can be the reason for this? I do not believe that they do not have the ammunition for that or planning. I believe if they wanted they could have done it.
  • Winnie wants to know:

  • What is the Navy doing around the Colaba area? Why is it not monitoring or keeping a check on what goes on in the seas just below its nose?
  • Why doesn’t Mumbai have enough fire ladders or other equipment which can put out fires like the ones set at the Taj?
  • Even in a terrorist attack why are most of our constabulary seen with antique rifles and without bulletproof attire?
  • Why are civilians seen in and around the affected areas in spite of a curfew call?
  • Why do the best hotels in Mumbai have such pathetic security?
  • Govind wants to know:

  • Are the CCTV records of the hotels available?
  • Assuming such large quantities of weapons had been pre-stored in the hotels, is there any security system to search these bags while being taken to the hotel?
  • Are there any missing hotel staff after the attack?
  • Rajendra wants to know:

  • How come the terrorists were able to fight for more then 40 hours? This is very clear that all these people got the arms and weapons ready on site in advance. Isn’t this a question on the qualification and intelligence of our police and all other security agencies?
  • Sujoy wants to know:

  • Manmohan Singh [Images] has claimed that this terror attack has been executed by external forces. What proof has the government got in order to make such a claim? Every time a situation like this happens, the government of India makes such claims and then they give no proof to anyone, especially the common people who are always kept in dark.

    Vinu wants to know:

  • When the commandos of the navy and the army are there why were ATS officers involved in the operation, who are ill equipped and lost their life? The man who ordered this should be held responsible for the death of bright officers and must be procecuted.

    Lokesh wants to know:

  • Why the BCCI does not organise India-Pakistan cricket matches on neutral grounds? How many Pakistanis return after the match? How many sneak through on a tourist visa?
  • Why cant we have a centralised SSN (Social Security Number) system in India?

    Amit wants to know:

  • Whether there are terrorists holed up in other parts of Mumbai and surroundings, as they were inside those targeted hotels? What action is necessary for those hiding terrorists in other parts, right now unknown to us?
  • How did they procure AK-56 rifles? What action is necessary which need to be taken for controling smuggling of these weapons inside Indian territory?
  • Are we planning to carry out operations inside Pakistan where the terrorists’ headquarters are firmly believed to be located, if Pakistan cannot capture those responsible and as we have every right for pre-emptive action?
  • Whether we will take help of the Pakistan government and other countries in conducting such secret operations inside Pakistan to capture terrorists, as the United States is doing presently inside Pakistan if their weak system cannot achieve this?

  • Will military training be made compulsory for a few years for every Indian citizen as we even did not have a small division of NSG available in Mumbai, and as we face a situation like Israel facing terrorism from all geographical directions? 6. What will be done to improve on all aspects of our defence, through strengthening our economy? How India will be again made an economically attractive place? 7. Will there be a separate agency to carry out regular security checks at all places over fix intervals, as this incident reveals that we have the enemy within to whom we are not reaching?




  • India’s political leadership to blame: Wall Street Journal

    28 11 2008

    New York: India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has done little to launch an effective fight against terrorism and may “pay a price for its incompetence” in the elections next year, the Wall Street Journal said in its lead editorial on Friday.

    “A lack of political leadership is to blame,” The Wall Street Journal said as India’s financial capital continued to battle terrorists who had struck in 10 places in the city Wednesday.

    The Mumbai terror attacks, in which at least 125 people have been killed, have been covered extensively in both the print and online edition of this New York-based daily financial newspaper.

    “It (the ruling party) may pay a price for its incompetence at the national polls next year,” the newspaper said.

    “Yesterday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised that ‘every perpetrator would pay the price’. Yet his Congress Party has done little more than bicker with its coalition allies over the past five years on how best to fight terrorism,” the journal said.

    Observing that the attacks are a reminder that India is at the top of the terror target list, the newspaper said this is because India is an easy target.

    Not only are its intelligence units understaffed and lack resources, coordination among State police forces is also poor. “The country’s anti-terror legal architecture is also inadequate; there is no preventive detention law, and prosecutions can take years,” it said.

    “Wednesday’s attacks should arouse Indians to better confront the terror threat, while reminding all democracies how dangerous that threat still is,” it said.

    In another opinion piece published by The Journal, author Sadanand Dhume blamed the Congress for scrapping the anti-terror law POTA. “On taking office in 2004, one of the first acts of the ruling Congress Party was to scrap a federal antiterrorism law that strengthened witness protection and enhanced police powers,” he wrote.

    “The Congress Party has stalled similar state-level legislation in Gujarat, which is ruled by the opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. And it was a Congress government that kowtowed to fundamentalist pressure and made India the first country to ban Mumbai-born Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ in 1988,” he said.

    Dhume, a Washington-based writer and author of “My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with an Indonesian Islamist”, said the Indian approach to terrorism has been consistently haphazard and weak-kneed.