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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bomb blasts - the ugly face of terrorism at Mumbai again

The ugly face of terrorism at Mumbai again – neither terrorism nor the place of action is new – the perpetrators have committed the heinous crime again.  It is a war, a mindless violence, maiming and killing scores of innocents.  The people of Mumbai have yet another time displayed the steely resolve but what about the Government which can scoop down on group of unarmed peaceful group with vengeance.  Shame !!

There would never be any  universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition of terrorism.  They are those  violent acts  intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or ideological goal, deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians).  The heinous act is politically and emotionally charged. 

Mumbai was again the scene of action -  blood-soaked bodies lay on the streets and people hugged and wept. Others carried the wounded to taxis. Crowds gathered in the blast areas as police questioned witnesses, and bomb squads inspected the undercarriages of vehicles searching for clues and other explosives. Motorcycles were charred, shopfronts shattered and a bus stop ripped apart. A photograph showed victims crowding into the back of a cargo truck to be taken to a hospital.   Going by reports, the  first blast struck the Zaveri Bazaar at 6.54pm, tearing through the famed jewellery market. A minute later, a second blast hit the busy business district of Opera House, several miles away in southern Mumbai. At 7:05 p.m., the third bomb exploded in the crowded neighbourhood of Dadar in central Mumbai.   

As has happened in the past, some politicians would visit the scene of blasts and would condemn stating the foreign hand and everything would be forgotten in the days to come.  Press would report that people have short memory – people have to lead their life but those responsible and those at the helm will not spare time for bringing book the perpetrators nor would prevent a recurrence.

The Indian commercial capital has witnessed much violence and has been suffering silently.  How many of us still remember the devastating series of explosions in 1993.   This attack, like earlier smaller attacks elsewhere, seems to have been designed to inflict indiscriminate harm. The aim was probably to destabilise the security services, undermine public confidence.   There are reports that recently  in Gujarat, anti-terrorist squad had arrested two car thieves allegedly belonging to the IM who had supplied stolen cars used for planting bombs in 2008 in the Gujarat cities of Ahmedabad and Surat.  The fifth anniversary of the Mumbai train blasts that killed more than 180 commuters fell this week, on 11 July. And there was a mischievous report that yesterday was the birthday of Kasab who laughs at Mumbai cell after convicted for his crime of 26/11.  Officials were careful not to blame any organization.   

The Home Ministry and other Agencies have time and again displayed inept attitude in dealing these with stern action.  In spite of multi-million investments, investigations into 5 urban terrorist attacks since 26/11 continue to flail about in dark.   In spite of massive investments in investigation and counter-terrorism intelligence capabilities since 26/11,  there has been little progress  in identifying the perpetrators of the February 2010 bombing of the German Bakery in Pune; the April 2010 serial bombings at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, the drive-by shooting at Delhi's iconic Jama Masjid in September 2010, and the December 2010 bombing at the Shitla Ghat in Varanasi.  There have been more instances in May this year, a car bomb planted outside the Delhi High Court, mercifully caused no loss of life, apparently because the electronic circuits in the explosive device malfunctioned in the extreme heat.

When public anger was displayed most after 26/11 – National Investigation Agency was set up.  The only apparent security is the display of commando force for Ministers – more police are deployed for cordon during the visits of politicians….  The Govt. issues circulars monitoring and putting restrictions on cash withdrawals of individuals but whether there is real  vigilance on financial movements which actually fund terror activities is anybody’s guess.

After these repeated terror attacks, India certainly needs a powerful intelligence network and a potent law capable of dispensing immediate legal punishment to the perpetrators and those abetting such heinous crime.  There is no point in making statements that we are on war with terrorism but people with no domicile record get passports and officials including a Governor of UT is accused of helping such issuance.    Even a miniscule neighbour like Bangladesh overtly encourages activities against our motherland but our Leadership is not taking a tough stand.

Mumbai has been targeted many times, hundreds have lost their lives, crores worth property has been lost, the mental peace is disturbed – at a time when the rulers show no steely resolve to put an end to these, the response of Mumbaikars is laudable.  It is reported that  Mumbaikars joined hand on social networking sites to help each other and share information.  Twitter was flooded with tweets from people offering to help - the hashtag #here2help was one of the top Twitter trends on July 13.  An online Google Docs spreadsheet 'Mumbai Help' that lists all points of contact for help is also being massively shared.  Scores of people readily came forward offering up their homes for victims to stay in, food, rides, and medical assistance.  Another site, called "Mumbai Unites", lists people who are stranded, require help or shelter, as well as safety tips and helpline numbers.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, who reached Mumbai late at night, described the blast as "a coordinated terror attack". The Home Minister said Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) were used in all three blasts.  The Home Minister said that the National Security Guard (NSG), which has a hub in Mumbai, was on standby.  The heavy downpour  over South Mumbai on Wednesday evening triggered fears that crucial evidence may be washed away.

The World, the International Community was quick to condemn the incident.

The UK foreign secretary, William Hague,  condemning the attacks said has condemned the attacks. He said:  I send my deepest condolences to all those who have lost relatives or beeninjured in the bomb blasts in Mumbai. These were deplorable acts of terrorism. The UK stands firmly with India in the face of such atrocities. We are committed to working with the Indian government and our allies and partners to combat the threat from terrorism in all its forms.

Barack Obama has described the attacks as outrageous in a statement (via USA
Today). The US president said: I strongly condemn the outrageous attacks in Mumbai, and my thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and those who have lost loved ones. The US government continues to monitor the situation, including the safety and security of our citizens. India is a close friend and partner of the United States. The American people will stand with the Indian people in times of trial, and we will offer support to India's efforts to bring the perpetrators of these
terrible crimes to justice. During my trip to Mumbai, I saw first-hand the strength and resilience of the Indian people, and I have no doubt that the India will overcome these deplorable terrorist attacks.

President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Government  and the people of Pakistan, have condemned the blasts in Mumbai and expressed distress on the loss of lives and injuries. The President and the Prime Minister have expressed their deepest sympathies to the Indian leadership.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condemned the attacks in a statement that also urges calm.   Singh said he had asked Ashok Chavan, the chief minister of Maharashtrathe region to provide relief to the injured and to the families of the deceased.

The   Govt. condemning the unknown face is of no value either to the victims or to the Nation.  It all boils down to the action – the response that is expected from the Govt.  Will the Home Minister and other Governmental Agencies act in unison and take strong action ever ?

We sorrowfully mourn the deaths and offer our sympathies for those affected by this mindless violence

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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