Remembering 26/11

One year.

It is easy to be cynical on the first anniversary of Mumbai terror attacks. UPA government was voted back to power in elections where 26/11 wasn’t even a major issue. The non-performing Congress-NCP alliance won Maharashtra third time in a row. Vilas Rao Deshmukh – then chief minister of Maharashtra – is back as a Union minister. RR Patil – that “small incident” guy – is back as the home minister of the state. Sainiks – though nowhere in sight during the 60 hour ordeal – are often on streets terrorizing fellow citizens. As if Shiv Sena was not bad enough we have MNS to contend with now.

Two of the three accused on trial for the attacks were in police custody before the attacks and intelligence agencies had some prior information about the impending attacks. However there was a communication breakdown between various agencies and even though it is hard to say if the attacks could have avoided – certainly some lives could have been saved. The Headley-Rana connection wasn’t probed even after the attacks until the duo was arrested by American authorities. We don’t know if things are run any differently now.

9/11 led to a high-powered bipartisan commission that assiduously probed the circumstances surrounding the attacks. 26/11 led to the Ram Pradhan committee report just to investigate the “police response”. The report became a political punching bag and its contents are still unknown. The top brass of Mumbai police is busy fighting among themselves publicly. So are our MPs. And the truth – it seems – will never come out on 26/11.

Meanwhile South Mumbai didn’t come out to vote this time either. In  related news, it rained again in Mumbai during monsoons and the roads got clogged.

And our media still hyperventilates.

But then there are reasons to be hopeful too.

India didn’t forget. 26/11 was not reduced to just another terror attack in the country. The main objectives of the attacks – to sow communal discord among Indians – failed. To force India or Israel to re-evaluate their relationship by killing Jewish hostages failed too. Last I checked Shashi Tharoor was at Nariman House for an international commemoration of the event.

The response of the Indian government was resolute and for the first time Pakistan was forced to recognize the identities of the terrorists and the fact that the attacks were planned from its territory. Yesterday the Pakistani government indicted Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi and 6 others for the attacks. Ajmal Kasab is being tried in an Indian court and his arrest along with decayed bodies of his 9 accomplices – without promised bodily scents or halo – would serve a grim reminder to youths looking for a shortcut to heaven.

National Investigation Agency has been formed and P Chidambaram has replaced the ineffectual Shivraj Patil as the home minister. By keeping up the diplomatic pressure on Pakistan India has successfully managed to prevent any major attack for a year. This allowed the Indian government to focus its efforts on tackling the Maoist terrorism in vast swathes of the countryside. In 2008 alone over 900 people were killed by Maoist terrorists.

Steps have been taken to better respond to such attacks. Force 1 has been constituted in Mumbai whose teams can deploy anywhere in the city within 20 minutes. NSG has now deployed its Special Response Units in the major cities of India. Sophisticated arms and equipments are being procured and better monitoring capabilities incorporated. There seems to be a certain realization within the establishment that we can’t fight a 21st century menace with 20th century mindset.

The relationship between India and United States has grown stronger with the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, being invited as the first state guest of the Obama administration. The joint statement released during the visit has terrorism as it major plank and calls the Indo-US partnership “indispensable for global peace and security”. India has finally managed to get rid of the hyphenation between itself and Pakistan. The new coinage – AfPak – obviously didn’t needed one. The words of condemnation from the international community for terrorism in India are no longer accompanied with calls to resolve disputes with Pakistan.


A government is as good and as responsible as its citizens. MJ Akbar recently wrote, “The politician will only be as resolute as the citizen, and our sensitivities have been dulled by a culture of complacence.” If we want a more secure India – we have to be a part of it. Our response to terrorism can’t be piecemeal. We need to fix the system. If we uncover some unsavory truths along the way – let it be. But never again.


26/11 And Urdu Press

Urdu Press, India

Mubasshir Mushtaq

Contrary to the popular myth that the Urdu press is a monolithic entity, it represents a diverse range of issues, opinions, points and counter-points. The tragedy of 26/11 proved to be a litmus test. On a careful analysis, it becomes abundantly clear that Urdu press accommodated views that could not find space even in the mainstream media. Continue reading 26/11 And Urdu Press

Sorry Sakina, My Friend, For Letting You Down

Kerala Muslim Family


I was on the phone with an old buddy from Delhi when the door bell rang, and I placed him on hold. He heard me thanking the visitor and guessed out loud if I was being pampered yet again by my neighbours. I suppose he had heard from my mother how much I was cared for in Bangalore where I am staying temporarily as a PhD researcher, how a hot meal on my table awaits me every time I get back into town from my field travels, that a list of my favourite foods is stuck on my next door neighbour’s refrigerator, and that not a day goes by without being asked if everything is all right. Continue reading Sorry Sakina, My Friend, For Letting You Down

A Poem On Mumbai Attacks

Mumbai Gateway Of India

Shiddat Pasand

Mujhe yaqeen tha, Ke mazhabon se
Koyee bhi rishta naheen hai unkaa
Mujhe yaqeen tha, ke unka mazhab
Hai Nafraton ki hadon ke andar
Muje yaqeen tha, Woh la mazhab hain
ya, unke mazhab naam hargiz
siwaye ‘shiddat’ ke kuchh naheen hai
Continue reading A Poem On Mumbai Attacks

Vinaash Kale Vipreet Budhi

CPR India Conference Hall Since time immemorial Indians have traded with the known western civilization of its time. The trade in material was two ways but it seems India has given a lot to the world in what one may call intellectual property but has not taken much in return. Since the control of India by the British, the trend has reversed we not only lagged behind in our export of products we also imported heavily in the realm of ideas and philosophies. The modern India that we see today owes a lot to the western civilization.

5 Things Muslims Should Have Done!

Mumbai MorningThe attacks are a direct result of radicalisation of Islam and hatred for anyone who does not share your belief. Unlike the earlier blasts, Indian Muslims have not been blamed for the recent Mumbai attacks. The attacks were too complicated to blame us. Does that guarantee that the recent attacks will not have any repercussions for the Muslim community? The terrorists must have definitely had some form of local support to get such precise details about their target. Continue reading 5 Things Muslims Should Have Done!

Lies of the Lashkar

Not possessing a television set myself, it was only just now that was I able to listen to the recording, hosted on the Internet, of a conversation which took place some days ago between a terrorist holed up at Nariman House in Mumbai and calling himself ‘Imran Babar’ and reporters of the India TV channel. (
It is plainly evident from the conversation that the terrorist was a Pakistani, most likely a Punjabi. This obvious from his accent and the sort of Urdu he speaks. One can easily make out that he had been carefully tutored by his mentors who masterminded the deadly terror assault on Mumbai to intersperse his hate-driven harangue with some Hindi words (shanti, parivar etc.) and to use Urdu words in the typical Hindi way (jabardasti, instead of zabardasti, etc.) so as to give the misleading impression that he and the other terrorists with him were Indian Muslims, not Pakistanis. The terrorists claimed to belong to the ‘Deccan’, in India, but it is obvious that this was not at all the case. There can be no doubt that these Pakistani terrorists were trained to lie that they were Indian Muslims who were allegedly resorting to terror in revenge for the atrocities committed on Muslims in India.
Why the Pakistan-based terror outfit behind the attacks would do this needs no explanation. The aim of the attacks was probably to destabilise India, fuel Hindu-Muslim violence, instigate Muslims to take to terror in response to attacks by Hindus and then drown India in flames. This, indeed, is precisely what several Pakistan-based self-styled Islamist groups have been consistently plotting to do for decades, although, mercifully, by and large, the Indian Muslims have refused to fall into their trap. It is to the credit of the Indian Muslims that, barring some stray exceptions, they have consistently opposed all forms of terror, including that committed in the name of Islam, despite the growing menace of Hindutva-driven fascist terror across India, sometimes abetted by the state, of which they are the principal and worst-hit victims.
The Lashkar-e Tayyeba has never made any bones about its dastardly plans of destabilisng and destroying India. It has gone to the ridiculous extent of claiming that it will not rest till the ‘Islamic’ flag is hoisted atop the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi and till India is absorbed into what it calls in its lunacy ‘Greater Pakistan’. In order to gain theological legitimacy for its deadly project it even claims that the Prophet Muhammad is said to have declared that Muslims who participate in a war with India would be saved from the fires of hell. There can be no doubt that this sort of horrendous misuse and deliberate distortion of Islam by the Lashkar has played a major role in attracting vast numbers of would-be terrorists in Pakistan to its fold who are fed with the poisonous propaganda that by participating in what it calls a holy war against India they would win a ticket to heaven.
The Pakistani state, it must be noted, has taken no action whatsoever against this heinous propaganda, and elements of the ISI are said to be in cahoots with the Lashkar and other such hate-driven self-styled Islamist groups in the country. In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, and when asked what action Pakistan had taken against the Lashkar, the Pakistani President hurriedly shrugged off the question by claiming that the Lashkar had been ‘banned’. If that is indeed the case-which it is obviously not-then how does Mr. Zardari explain the fact that, as the Lashkar’s official Urdu website itself announces, on the 29th of November the Lashkar’s supremo Hafiz Muhammad Saeed addressed what it termed a ‘mammoth’ convention at ‘New Saeedabad’ (a locality named after him?), organized by the Sindh unit of the Markaz Dawat ul-Irshad (the ‘religious’ and political wing of the Lashkar). It was held, of all places, in the premises of the local Government Degree College. The Lashkar’s website is replete with news about the whirlwind tours of Saeed and his cronies across the country, delivering rabble-rousing speeches, thundering against India and non-Muslims in general. And the outfit, Mr. Zardari wants us to believe, is ‘banned’.
Having been writing on Indian Muslim issues for years now, I can say with some confidence that the general Indian Muslim is completely fed up and fiercely opposed to the gross misuse of Islam by the Pakistani state and Pakistan-based self-styled Islamist outfits. Deep down inside, most of them lament the very creation of Pakistan, based on the discredited ‘two nation’ theory, for it has left them permanently helpless in the face of Hindutva aggression. They know full well that, despite its bombastic claims, Pakistan is far being from the ‘Islamic state’ it claims to be-with its problems of poverty, illiteracy, mounting inequalities, endemic violence, and lawlessness, its corrupt American puppet politicians who have reduced Islam to a plaything to be employed for their own purposes, and so on. They face the brunt of mounting Islamophobia stirred up by Hindutva fascist forces that play upon Pakistan’s dubious Kashmir policy and the heinous crimes of Pakistan-based self-styled Islamist radicals to whip up violently anti-Muslim sentiments in India. The general Indian Muslim’s undisguised disgust of the terror in the name of Islam that groups like the Lashkar are seeking to spearhead is amply evident in the news that is pouring in of Muslims across the country roundly denouncing the Mumbai attacks and even insisting that the dreaded terrorists not be allowed to be buried on Indian soil.
India’s Muslims need to be seen as a potential asset, rather than a liability, in the struggle against terrorism. Scores of Indian ulema or Islamic clerics are now openly castigating all forms of terror, organizing mass rallies and even issuing fatwas to get the message across. The Indian state and civil society urgently needs to realize that hounding the Indian Muslims, instead of seeking to listen to their voices and concerns and genuinely dialoguing with them, can only play into the hands of outfits of groups like the Lashkar. The fact that Hindutva terror and Islamist terror only feed on each other must also be urgently acknowledged. Our very future as a country crucially depends on all communities, particularly Hindus and Muslims, presenting a joint front to work together for peace and security. That would be a fitting reply to both Hindutva and radical Islamist forces, whose very existence is based on the frighteningly Manichaean notion of perpetual antagonism between Hindus and Muslims.

Muslims Too Silent About Mumbai

Taj Mahal Hotel, MumbaiVengeful militancy has struck the humanity again, this time the target being Mumbai (Bombay) – India’s financial capital.

The well-choreographed and consummately executed mayhem has left more than 175 people dead, painting Islam as a monster religion hell-bent on destroying the globe.

While the world watched in total disbelief the swift unfolding of ruthlessness on train stations, a Jewish center, hotels and restaurants, I was longing for the faintest sign of protest from the global Muslim community. Continue reading Muslims Too Silent About Mumbai

Mumbai Carnage, Wish It Was The Last Horror!

Mumbai Terrorist AttacksThe coordinated attacks on the Taj Mahal Hotel and nine other sites in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) have claimed about 190 innocent lives, with hundreds more injured. Distressed Indians and concerned people all over the world are looking for answers.

Quick preconceived answers demand immediate retaliation. To mollify the public, authorities arrest and torture a few easy targets and extract confessions. Continue reading Mumbai Carnage, Wish It Was The Last Horror!