Archive for November, 2008

“Small incident”: said Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister, R. R. Patil – By Ghulam Muhammed

November 30, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

“Small incident”: said Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister, R. R. Patil

The Times of India, Mumbai in a front page news story with Red color headline, called it a shocking statement. In an atmosphere of shock and terror, TOI can be excused for concentrating on the immediate and current. However, now that the last terrorists has been declared dead for last 24 hours and the whole counter-terrorism operation has been treated as closed, it is time for reflection. Can an man of such rustic and clear-headed personality be playing politics by taking credit for the small number of casualties in a city of 18 million that was held to ransom for 5 days and nights, in a sordid drama had had been televised to a world audience of billions, and which could have ended with much greater number of casualties. Times of India staffers will have to go back to their archives to find out, if such manner of terrorist attacks had not been an every day affair in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Were Indian state and its various security agencies have not countenanced such fidayeen attacks in J&K, since 1987 when the militants took to arms. Has Indian army not acquired vast experience of countless incidents of militants holding up and barricading themselves in civilian areas? Has not each of those confrontations ended in certain deaths of the fidayeen? Is there any public record of how many such incidents that have rocked that beleaguered state and how many innocent civilians have died in those siege counter-terrorism cross fires? If the Maharashtra Home Minister is trying to place the whole incident into wider perspective in an effort to get the media out of shock and despair, was his statement so shocking?

It is certainly true, that the audacity of the Mumbai terror attack cannot be compared to any recent similar incident in public memory. The whole world was witness to a second by second picturisation and narration of every aspect of the developments at three hostage locations within striking distance in an urban city center with landmark tourist spots like Taj Hotel, possibly familiar to people around the world.

But that does not change the basics of the terror attack and the cast of heroes and villains as well as the gist of story that has been played out in countless episodes in a part of our own nation, which is practically cordoned off, not only for the people of India, but from all over the world, except possibly the Israelis who thronged in Kashmir as tourists and RR excursions.

It would seem that the terrorists or their masterminds have decided to up the ante and shock the world into focusing on their agenda. If their tactics were designed to bring the whole fundamentals of the disputes into open world arena, they were immensely helped by the media coverage. And that is what probably they had come for and were prepared to die for.

It is for Indian leadership now, to lead their people into a new set of rearranged internal and external relationships that will heal the fault lines that is being exploited by forces, which though posing as friends, are in reality friends of nobody but their own small clique.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


November 28, 2008


New York – November 28, 2008 – As a broad-based coalition committed to promoting justice, peace and human rights, we denounce in strongest possible terms the dastardly terror attacks in Mumbai and demand that the highest echelons of political decision makers be held accountable for what seems to be widespread and escalating trend of abject failures in protecting precious lives of ordinary citizens and preserving the pluralistic fabric of India.

We express our deepest gratitude to the thousands of security personnel for their courageous and selfless service in fighting these well-planned and coordinated attacks. We are deeply moved by still-emerging stories of the heroism and professionalism of the hotel staff. Our heart goes out to the families of fallen heroes and the civilian victims. We also note with a sense of great pride and satisfaction, that Indian citizens have by and large maintained harmony, understanding and resolve in the face of successive acts of terrorism, thereby foiling the perpetrators’ principal objective. We have no doubt that it is this unique strength of ordinary people which keeps India resilient, vibrant and united in the face of mounting internal and external challenges. We call upon all political forces in India to build upon this unique character rather than fomenting divisive agenda for short term gains.

We are alarmed by the reports of foreign groups being involved in the attacks. We urge the government of India to identify these foreign groups and to reassure the nation that such threats are being dealt in an effective manner.

Recent years have witnessed an alarming growth in the number of groups committing highly orchestrated acts of violence against innocent civilians. As evident from this still unfolding tragedy, a coordinated and open attack on this scale by a relatively handful of people completely paralyzing a city like Mumbai points to major and multiple break downs across the internal and external intelligence agencies, center-state coordination on law and order as well as political-bureaucratic-civil society continuum.

As non resident Indians, we note how India has come to be recognized as a rising power as a result of successive recent governments assiduously pursuing and successfully accomplishing projects to advance the country’s profile on the international stage. However, we also note with dismay and frustration that similar single minded focus and resolve seems to be lacking in successive governments, when it comes to ensuring the life, liberty and livelihood of ordinary citizens. We therefore call upon leaders across political spectrum towards a renewed sense of single minded focus on this very fundamental and basic purpose of government.

While acknowledging the complexity of the situation and concerned about frequent terrorist attacks in recent months, we feel nevertheless compelled to request Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh to make much needed changes in the senior ranks of the government officials and the government apparatus to ensure that the citizens and institutions of India are fully protected from acts of terrorism.

COALITION AGAINST GENOCIDE- A Coalition of Concerned Indian-Americans

Points of Contact:
Gautam Desai []
George Abraham []
Kaleem Kawaja []

Endorsing Organizations:
Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington, DC
American Muslim Physicians of Indian Origin (AMPI)
Association of Indian Muslims in America (AIM), Washington DC
Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH) –
Friends of South Asia (FOSA), San Jose, California (www.friendsofsoutha
Gujarati Muslim Association of America (GMAA), Chicago, IL
India Foundation, Michigan
Indian Minorities Advocacy Network (ImanNet), New York
Indian Muslim Council (IMC), Morton Grove, Illinois (www.imc-usa. org)
Indian Muslim Education Foundation (IMEFNA), North America
International Service Society, Michigan
Muslim Youth Awareness Alliance (MYAA), Michigan
Non-Resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI), Michigan
Sikh American Heritage Organization, Wayne, Illinois
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), Greater Vancouver, Canada (
Supporters of Human Rights in India (SHRI)
The Coalition for a Secular Democratic India (CSDI), Chicago. Illinois
Vaishnava Center for Enlightenment, Michigan

Personal Endorsements:
George Abraham
Habeb Ahmed
Dr. Syed S. Ahmed
Dr. Waheeduddin Ahmed
Girish Agrawal
Rasheed Ahmed
Shahid Ali, M.D.
Khalid Azam
Dr. Chinmoy Banerjee
Dr. Angana Chatterji
Nasir Chippa
Gautam Desai
Shalini Gera
Sapna Gupta
Kaleem Kawaja
Attaulla Khan
Dr. Fazal Khan
Dr. Hyder Khan
Dr. Shahid Ali Khan
Wasim Khan, MD, MPH
Alex V. Koshy
Dr. Kursheed A. Mallick
Ghulam Mansuri
Biju Mathew
Saeed Patel
Shrikumar Poddar
Syed Azmatullah Quadri
Raju Rajagopal
Ravi Ravishankar
Dr. Shaik Sayeed
Dr. Hari Sharma
Ramkumar Sridharan
Raja Swamy
Dr. Shaik Ubaid
Firoz Vohra


November 28, 2008


28 Nov 2008, 0000 hrs IST

This nation is under attack. The scale, intensity and level of orchestration of terror attacks in Mumbai put one thing beyond doubt: India is effectively at war and it has deadly enemies in its midst. Ten places in south Mumbai were struck in quick succession.

As in the case of the demolition of New York’s World Trade Center in 2001, Mumbai’s iconic monuments such as the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Oberoi Trident and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus have come under attack. The number of people killed in multiple attacks is 101 and counting, which includes foreigners and senior policemen. At least 300 have been injured.

The terrorists who carried out the attacks are well supplied, armed to the teeth and extremely well motivated. The question now is whether the nation can show any serious degree of resolve and coordination in confronting terror. This war can be won, but it will require something from the political class, from security forces and from ordinary people. It’s time now to move beyond pointing fingers at one another or resorting to cliches such as ‘resilient Mumbai’. It’s also time to end the habit of basing one’s stand on terrorism on the particular religious affiliation of terrorists, criticising or exonerating them using their religion a point of reference. Terrorists have no religion. Political bickering on this issue is divisive; what India needs now is unity.

While Mumbai also witnessed multiple attacks which brought the city to a halt in 1993, this one is different in two respects. One, it is unfolding in slow motion with the world media as witness, which makes for maximum psychological impact. Two, foreigners have specifically been targeted. Sites frequented by them have been chosen for attack and Britons, Americans and Israelis appear to have been singled out.

This kind of attack on India’s financial capital is intended to send the message that India isn’t a safe place to do business. The Indian economy and its links with the world are under attack. On the plus side, there have been unprecedented outpourings of sympathy and offers of cooperation from world governments. All the more reason to make the attacks on Mumbai a transformative moment. There has been talk of beefing up India’s poor infrastructure. Security must now be seen as an essential element of infrastructure, as vital as power, water or transport.

Both L K Advani and Rajnath Singh have said it’s time to rise above politics, which is welcome. An announced joint visit to Mumbai by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leader of the opposition Advani would send a signal of political unity. Beyond that the PM, in consultation with senior opposition leaders, must draw up a consensus plan about how to deal with contingency situations as well as upgrade India’s security culture.

A host of institutions have been built since the 1980s when India first encountered terrorism. New agencies, special cells and commando units have come up since then. But how well do we run them, how well resourced are they and is there proper coordination among them to maximise and collate information? According to the home ministry, terrorists sneaked in from the Arabian Sea. They may have sailed past the naval headquarters to blast their way into the city. However, it took a while before the National Security Guards and naval commandos in the city were pressed into action. What explains such delay? Was it a multiplicity of commands or plain bureaucratic lethargy? The point is even in circumstances when personnel and infrastructure are available, planning and execution are shockingly poor.

Constitutional experts must put their hands together to see whether under existing laws any special, but temporary, powers can be given to the security agencies. All major political parties should be taken into confidence to see what urgent steps can be taken to prevent the nation from sinking deeper into chaos. There is a pressing need to restructure India’s security architecture. A federal agency to deal with terrorism has been suggested by this newspaper and now by the PM. A coordinated effort to process information gleaned by state and central agencies should help to transform randomly collected information into actionable intelligence.

The government should immediately work on an internal security doctrine that demarcates the role of various security wings and a clear command structure to deal with terrorism. This should include contingency plans for various scenarios which lay out in advance how to respond to them. Tougher laws, in consultation with the opposition, may also be needed to control terror.

It’s incumbent on all chief ministers to remain on alert and maintain calm in their states. Unnecessary repercussions from the Mumbai incidents need to be avoided at all costs. Election campaigning needs to be kept at a minimum to avoid stretching security too thin. The political class must ensure that communalism of all varieties is kept out of politics.

Besides terrorists coming in from the Arabian Sea, their looking for Americans, Britons and Israelis give the signal that the attack on Mumbai is a spillover from the larger war on terror. Al-Qaeda is, for the first time, feeling the pressure in its Pakistani sanctuaries as it is under Pakistani and American attack. But South Asian borders are notoriously porous. Al-Qaeda affiliated organisations such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) have struck deep roots in Bangladesh.

To tackle terror in India it is urgently necessary to stabilise Pakistan and Bangladesh. And, India should seek international help now to upgrade its own security apparatus, but also to stabilise the entire region stretching from Afghanistan to Bangladesh. There is no time to waste.


TOP ARTICLE | Neighbours Create Trouble

28 Nov 2008, 0000 hrs IST,


Mumbai has experienced terror attacks earlier. In March 1993, simultaneous attacks on a number of targets resulted in over 270 fatal casualties.

Their origin was traced to Dawood Ibrahim and his associates who were based in Karachi. The multiple bomb blasts on Mumbai trains killed 200 people in July 2005.

Once again the investigations led to a link between those who carried out the blasts and Pakistan. The present batch of terrorists is reported to have landed close to the Gateway of India in rubber dinghies. The equipment, training and sophistication of their planning and the identity of a suspect arrested in Chowpatty would tend to indicate a Pakistani link.

Unlike in previous attacks when the casualties were all Indians, this time there are foreigners among the dead. There are also reports that the terrorists were particularly interested in US, UK and Israeli passport holders.

While an organisation called ‘Deccan Mujahideen’ has claimed responsibility the Indian agencies do not consider this a genuine claim; they feel that this is a Pakistani jihadi operation.

Since a few terrorists have been captured, their identities would surely be revealed in the next few days. The Mumbai police believe that the sophistication and skill of the terrorists would tend to indicate that they were not locals. It appears that a mother ship had dropped dinghies close to Mumbai. The Indian Navy has intercepted a vessel from Pakistan believed to have been the mother ship. Though in the 1993 operations the explosives came via sea the people who placed the explosives were from Mumbai. In this case, the terrorists landed on the Mumbai waterfront. Though sea-based terrorist attacks have been talked about, presumably those in charge had not paid adequate attention to it.

The counterterrorism efforts in India are fragmented among the state and central agencies. Efforts to have an integrated central agency to deal with terrorism have so far been thwarted by political parties who tend to place their own parochial interests higher than national interests. In the US, where they had a number of federal agencies dealing with different aspects of intelligence in the wake of 9/11 they found that there was inadequate coordination among them.

Hence, there was a failure to assess the 9/11 threat though there were bits of information. Subsequently, a new post of director of national intelligence was created to supervise and coordinate all intelligence agencies. In the biggest bureaucratic reshuffle in US history the department of homeland security was also created with bipartisan support. The terrorist threat India faces is far more severe than the one faced by the US separated from Europe and Asia by two oceans and having friendly neighbours in Mexico and Canada.

India has three unfriendly porous borders and nearly three decades of terrorism and proxy war directed against it. Yet our political parties are not sensitive enough to appreciate the need for intelligence coordination and an integrated internal security structure. Recently the Pakistani government stripped the ISI of its responsibility for political intelligence. Pakistan had to seek a multi-billion-dollar loan package from the IMF and the loan has been sanctioned with conditionalities.

Many in Pakistan have openly resented president-elect Barack Obama’s friendliness towards India. The recent friendly remarks of Pakistani president Asif Zardari towards India have also not found approval among sections of the Pakistani establishment. A section of the Pakistani establishment and the ISI have been attempting to bleed India through a thousand cuts.

The ISI was known to create problems for its own government to advance its interests. Therefore, the possibility of rogue elements in ISI and jihadi elements in Pakistan conspiring to create tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad cannot be ruled out. This would keep ISI’s pre-eminence in Pakistan’s India policy and help it to argue with Washington that increased tension with India rules out Islamabad playing a more effective role on its western front.

The terror attack on Mumbai was aimed at hitting tourist traffic and its commercial relations with the US and other developed countries. It was also intended to club India with the Crusaders (the US and the West) and Zionists (the Israelis). This may look like an act of desperation by the jihadis and their friends in the ISI and Pakistani establishment. In a sense, the jihadis may be attempting to bring the clash of civilisations thesis to its denouement. One should not forget the original ‘clash of civilisations’ thesis was the two-nation theory which the Indian Muslims repudiated by choosing to stay on in India.

The present acts of terrorism is an attempt by the advocates of this thesis to create tension between the two communities in this country. Till now the US and other western nations were not adequately sensitive to terrorism perpetrated against India. This was partly because the casualties were all Indians. This time it is different.

While all evidence points to the involvement of Pakistani elements in the terror acts, New Delhi should at the same time be careful not to walk into the trap of creating major Indo-Pakistan tensions as a new president takes over in Washington and with India facing a general election in the next few months. The country expects the two national parties to get together to formulate a joint strategy to thwart the jihadi attempt to create a ‘clash of civilisations’ in this country.

The writer is a Delhi-based strategic affairs analyst.


Mumbai paradigm of terror

28 Nov 2008, 0101 hrs IST, ET Bureau


Even for a country distressingly familiar with terrorist outrages, the multiple attacks in Mumbai herald a new low. The sheer audacity and scale of the attacks, the spectacle of young men armed to the teeth with machine guns and grenades roaming on the streets of India’s financial capital, bring home the fact that terrorism has attained a new sophistication and organisational ability.

To talk of an intelligence failure is almost a truism, yet given that such a large group of men could physically launch attacks on multiple high-profile targets, eschewing the recent pattern of engineering blasts, is a clear sign of an abysmal deficiency in our intelligence-gathering capabilities.

To combat such a new level of terrorism, it is imperative the contours of the extant anti-terror paradigm change. Terror has simply been politicised, with parties using it as yet another electoral plank. The scale of this latest outrage demonstrates the pitfalls of a divisive polity squabbling over instrumentalities.

The need of the hour, and the future, is for political parties to break with past patterns and evolve a clear consensus on how to prevent the recurrence of such heinous attacks. In this context, it is heartening to see that there is some sort of communication between Manmohan Singh and L K Advani.

To ensure a better security culture, and the involvement of every citizen in contributing to it, is also a matter of shaping a thoroughly neutral investigative apparatus. The issue of abysmal intelligence gathering also has to do with the perception of investigative agencies as being partisan.

This has also led to severing of links between effective policing and intelligence gathering and various communities and groups. The prime minister has in the past spoken on the need for wider police reforms, and we could not agree more.

The wider aspect of such reform, however, should also be to address the rifts within civil society at large. The spectacle of young men engaged in such brutally invasive terrorist acts, with no thought whatsoever as to concealing their identities also posits that idea of a collapsed civil society.

And beyond measures such as preparedness and response, the extremism that feeds such fanatical acts needs to be addressed in the wider socio-political arena. That is, without doubt, and as various nations around the world have discovered, the best kind of pre-emptive measure.

That said, installing effective anti-terror mechanisms are also a matter of intra-state and international cooperation. While domestically measures such as institutionalising state coordination among investigative agencies would be imperative, India should now press hard for greater intelligence sharing within the region.

These latest attacks have also demonstrated a new level in the terrorists’ capabilities. The organisational and logistical abilities they have displayed are staggering. Both in the kind of targets chosen, the scale of the destruction and bloodbath, as well as the fact that for the first time, western nationals were sought to be targeted for greater international impact, point to a sharp escalation in terrorist ambitions.

And even the response and management capabilities of the state have been shown to be glaringly low. That such an immense attack, almost akin to a mini-invasion, should have happened in Mumbai, home to one of the more respected police forces in India only underlines that fact.

Another aspect of terrorism relates to how security forces are able respond in a situation where hostages are taken by terrorists. The past 36 hours have shown that the police is not equipped to handle such complex situations.

The National Security Guards (NSG), where commandos are drawn from the army, has the wherewithal to do so. But the NSG has limited numbers and is a national-level organisation. Wednesday’s incident has indicated the need to have NSG-like outfits at the state level so that they can move more swiftly into action when the need arises. The NSG is trained specifically for such situations.

And it would be a good idea to create state-level NSG-like modules, which are ready to act swiftly when such incidents occur.


Our nightmare, our wake-up call

Shekhar Gupta

Posted: Nov 28, 2008 at 1038 hrs IST

How does a democracy of billion-plus people respond when a few madmen tear the heart out of its financial capital and shatter its soul? The question has to be asked because it is only adversity of such staggering magnitude that shakes up slumbering, old civilizations to turn it into an opportunity. It is time, therefore, to close rank, unite, focus on the greatest threat of our generation, perpetrators of which have benefited from the fuzziness that partisan politics can bring to most issues in a democracy. Posterity will record this as India’s 9/11. But are we now stirred enough to also respond to it with the equanimity with which the other democracy recovered, and has protected its people in the seven years that followed?
Nothing can guarantee that a small suicide squad will not infiltrate one of our cities and cause mayhem. But a policy of genuine, non-partisan zero-tolerance towards Terror of all kinds would have made the task of such conspirators much tougher. In this case, it seems to have been rather too easy. Sadly, our woolly-headed response to terror over the past five years was not caused so much by any fundamental differences in the way the two national parties look at it, nor because we have had so brilliant a Home Minister that he can tell live, realtime TV, which presumably the terrorists could be watching inside the hotels, that “200 NSG commandos” had left Delhi “at 1.15 (am)” and should be on the job in a few hours. It was caused by five years of surreal politics, rooted in psephology rather than ideology, that communalised our responses to terror in a manner that no other democracy allowed since 9/11. Both sides, the UPA and the NDA, were equally guilty, so while one railed endlessly against “jehadi” terror, the other searched for “root causes” of terrorism. Similarly, when a module of alleged radical Hindu bombers was busted, one side was smiling that vicious, non-stop “Gotcha” smile in TV studios, while the other was questioning the motives of the ATS, and demanding the sack of its brilliant and intrepid chief. At least in his death now Hemant Karkare would have achieved what he could not when alive, to have Congress and the BJP shed a tear for him. Together.

That is the key word: together.

Time had come a long time ago to depoliticise our response to terror just…


Fri,28 Nov 2008

A nation that cannot afford to sleep

Hindustan Times
November 27, 2008

India is under attack. And along with it, the idea of India is under attack.

When a city like Mumbai is held hostage by marauding terrorists, with its citizens forced to cower in fear under a fog of utter helplessness, any notion that the country is secure ― or will be able to re-establish its sense of security quickly and effectively ― becomes a fanciful thought. This country has had its fair share of experiences with terrorism. One would have thought that our governments, law and order machinery and political establishment would be prepared to tackle and disarm these noxious forces. But the tragedy that continues to unfold in India’s most vibrant, cosmopolitan city has exposed the terrible unpreparedness ― and dare we say unwillingness ― to fight terrorism on a war footing.

The attacks that have crippled life in Mumbai, stunned the nation and the world have also woken up many people from the reverie that saw India as a safe house in a dangerous neighbourhood. Terrorism in the Indian mainland, either perceived as a localised menace or one coming from ‘across the border’, has linked itself to a global phenomenon overnight. If there was any further confirmation needed regarding the borderless nature of terror, India has got it the hard way. Regardless of the nomenclature, the Deccan Mujahideen carries all the hallmarks of the genre of terrorist networks that go under the name of al-Qaeda. This is 21st century terrorism reaching the shores of our country.

Unfortunately, Indian counter-terrorism is still in 20th century gear. Intelligence collection and intelligence coordination are two processes lying at the core of the contemporary war against terror, whether in the United States, Israel, Britain or any other targeted country. India needs to understand that and understand it quickly. It also needs to implement stringent anti-terror-laws. Without these in place, India will still be fighting a contemporary war anachronistically. A department of homeland security is still shockingly a non-concept here. And to add to the general sense of flailing about is the spanner of politics. After September 11, 2001, America came together to fight a common, shape-shifting enemy. Can we as a nation that has known terrorism for far longer ― and with far more wounds to show ― come together to face this nation-crippling assault?

The days ahead will show whether we will be able to survive ‘effortless’ terrorist attacks. It will also show whether we can save the idea of India and the way we live our lives. Playing the headless chicken is no longer an option.


November 28, 2008

Alert security staff save the day at TOI

28 Nov 2008, 0653 hrs IST, ET Bureau

The Old Lady Of Boribunder had a narrow escape. On Wednesday night, when horror was playing out in the streets of Mumbai, the iconic Times Of India Building was under serious threat. It was the sheer presence of mind and alacrity of the building’s security staff that saved the day for the Lady.

Danger literally came knocking at the Times’ door when two heavily armed terrorists tried to locate the entrance of this over 150-year-old structure at some time past 11 pm on Wednesday. But by then the security staff at the main gate, facing Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), had pulled down the shutters. Unable to find the entrance of the building, the terrorists walked past the facade of the building.

The chief security officer of the Times Building, PA Vergis, said between 200 to 250 employees , mostly editorial staff, were inside the building at that hour (around 10 pm) when terror came within sniffing distance. “It took a fraction of a second for us to realise the danger.

We used common sense and closed all entry points to the building,” he said. “One shudders to imagine what could have happened if even one of those terrorists had managed to enter the building,” deputy security manager JR Joshi said.

When all hell was breaking loose on Wednesday night, there were three security officers on the night shift and 10 guards. There was also an element of providence here -the security staff manning the Times building do not have guns. So, if the terrorists had barged in, the security staff could hardly have done anything.

“That’s why we decided to use our resources well. We pulled the shutters down, and asked all the employees to wait inside. All this made it difficult for the terrorists to locate the gates,” Mr Vergis added.

The Times Of India building has three entry gates – the main gate for the employees, the time-keeper’s gate, and a third gate for goods and materials. The time-keeper’s gate usually closes at 9.00 pm but the main one remains open till late.

“At around 9.50, we heard gunshots at CST and sensed some kind of danger. This building had always been on the radar of terrorists and something real was happening out there,” said Mr Joshi. Sensing the threat perception to this building, the Mumbai Police have already provided security. “The Mumbai Police have reviewed our security arrangements and appreciated it,” Mr Vergis added.

Once was Mumbai – By Kumar Ketkar

November 28, 2008

Indian Express > Op-Ed >

Once was Mumbai

Posted: Nov 28, 2008 at 0115 hrs IST

By Kumar Ketkar

: Even otherwise, the city of Mumbai is explosive. But every time there is a terrorist attack, the metropolis is gripped by a kind of fear psychosis. The attack on “A Wednesday” (what a morbid coincidence!), proved yet again that the so-called “courageous” and “resilient” Mumbaikar is rapidly getting used to mayhem and murder. That is not a reflection of courage or of collective sanity, but of the desensitisation of the mass mind.

That the terrorist attack took place just when the media was full of stories of “saffron terrorism” may be a coincidence, but the killing of Hemant Karkare, the chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), gives the event an anti-climactic turn. The Sangh Parivar and the Shiv Sena had gone to town for almost a month, aggressively campaigning against the ATS and virtually running a propaganda drive to condemn Karkare as an anti-Hindu and anti-national officer. Karkare was known for his upright character and courage, as well as for his patriotism. With his long experience in RAW, he strongly believed that terrorism has no colour and creed. He worked tirelessly, and arrested those who were engaged in terrorist acts, irrespective of faith. As long as the suspects arrested were Muslims, he received applause. But the moment he caught extremist Hindus, and collected evidence against them, he became a villain in the eyes of the Sangh Parivar and the Sena.

Now that he has lost his life fighting the terrorists — who are believed to be part of the global Taliban-ISI-Al Qaeda network — the sinister campaign against him has turned on its head.

Karkare had monitored international terrorist operations and splits, as well as “splits within splits” in the ISI, and was following the threads of the groups who were also working against the Pakistani state. The tragedy is that along with him, two other brave very senior police officers, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar, have also been killed by the terrorists. Intellectuals, talking heads and the media will now routinely condemn the state and central governments for failure in gathering intelligence and not having a “disaster management plan”. But the fact is the city of Mumbai has gone beyond any disaster management plan. This is because disaster is a way of life in this vast, totally disconnected and uncontrollably grown metropolis, where there are a crore and a half people, but no social and community life. That is why…

Sir Gulam Noon, British ‘Curry King’: how I escaped bombed hotel : Times online

November 27, 2008

From Times Online
November 27, 2008

Sir Gulam Noon, British ‘Curry King’: how I escaped bombed hotel

Alice Thomson, Rachel Sylvester

Sir Gulam Noon did not duck when he heard the first sounds of gunfire in his suite on the third floor of the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Britain’s most high profile Asian businessman had booked a table at the restaurant but at the last minute he felt slightly ill so changed his mind and decided to have dinner in his room with his brother and two business associates. “It probably saved my life, the restaurant was the first place the terrorists went.”

Sir Gulam – who is known as the “Curry King”, selling 1.5 million ready made Indian meals a week in Britain – was born in Bombay and started his career running a sweet stall in the city.

At first he says, “we thought we were hearing wedding fireworks, it sounded as though crackers were being let off in the lobby”. He and his brother looked out of the window expecting a fireworks display but instead “we saw men rushing into the building and people fleeing”.

He rang the duty manager. “Amazingly he was still at his desk, he told me to jam the door. He said men with guns were looking for Americans and British people. I am British and proud of it.”

The television stopped working. “Then the air conditioning went off. The room became very hot. We couldn’t open the windows, they were sealed.”

His mobile still worked and his family rang to warn him that a fire had broken out on the upper floors. “I could see the smoke coming along the corridors. The manager told us to put wet towels by the door. The smoke kept coming in. The army were amazing, they were running up and down the corridors but they weren’t interested in getting the guests out. They were trying to find the terrorists.”

Sir Gulam, who is 72, was stuck in his room from 9.30 in the evening until 6 am. “The gunfire was continuous all night. We were told: ‘Don’t come out of the room because the commandos could shoot you by mistake’. We saw two terrorists on our floor, we heard the gunfire just outside our room. It was a very frightening experience, you had no idea whether they were going to shoot down the door and enter, you didn’t know at what point they would start going from room to room.”

Eventually he had to decide whether to brave the carnage of the hotel or face being overcome by smoke. “Instinctively I knew I shouldn’t go out into the corridor so we stayed in the room and looked out of the window. We could see the bodies coming out in the ambulances, they were bringing them out in luggage trolleys. After several hours a fireman broke the window and took us down in a crane. At the bottom the general manager of the hotel was waiting to greet us with a bottle of water. The staff were amazing, they stayed all night, risking their lives.”

The businessman had taken nothing with him. “I didn’t even have time to get my passport or medicines or any clothes.” He spent yesterday buying new shirts, trousers, a toothbrush and his medicine. He also went to the British High Commission to get a new passport. “It’s 3pm now, I haven’t slept a wink for 24 hours. It is as if the city is under siege, I am in my car now and the streets are empty, people have been asked to remain indoors many of the shops are shut.”

Sir Gulam – who is friends with Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the Prince of Wales – grew up in Bombay in the run to independence. There were riots in the streets and people being killed almost every day – he recalls hearing the town crier announcing his father’s death as he was sitting in class at the age of 10. He still returns regularly to the Bombay.

When the city was hit by bombs in 1993, he was there, staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel. His driver was injured. “The Mumbai people are very resilient and very brave, like Londoners were after 7/7. Tomorrow morning the trains will be full of people coming to work. If you are afraid of these terrorists and you cow down then they are winning.”

He is horrified by the thought that Islamic extremists are involved. “I am a Muslim so it is very difficult to take. This is not real Islam. There is no religion or caste or creed that believes it is right to terrorise people. They were only looking for British and American people. Perhaps it was because we went in to support America in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The “Curry King” has adopted Britain as his home, but he will never lose his attachment to India. “I live in London but I still love Mumbai. I can’t believe this has happened to my city.”


Gulam Noon as in the man who is worth £65 million, who was implicated in the ‘Cash for peerages’ and who has written articles from high up in his ivory tower opposing immigration and ‘extremists’ coming to the UK? Is it just coincidence that the place he was due to be in was targetted I wonder?

John Baker, London, UK

A lot of British Muslims also stay in the Taj Mahal Hotel.
The media never seem to also see them as victims of terrorist attacks.

jayil, london, uk


November 27, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008


1. With death threats against him already on record, why ATS Chief Hemant Karkare exposed himself on the streets of Mumbai as shown by TV clips, putting his safety helmet on? Who shot him? The terrorists or some insider? Had he got his fate sealed with his successes in exposing the hitherto hidden Hindu terrorism side of Hindutva movement in India?

2. How ‘Nariman House’ came into the focus of the terrorists? Why Indian TV Channels refrained from mentioning that the building was a residence of Israeli Jews in India, owned by a Jewish trust, Chabad-Lubavitch, as reported by Jerusalem Post. JP reported: Chabad-Lubavitch fears for the safety of its Mumbai rabbi.

3. Why there was no news of any harm done to either the hostages in the Nariman House or the two five-star Hotels? Why the ‘terrorists’ became so coy in carrying out their ‘mission’. It smacks of some dubious antecedents of the ‘terrorists’.

4. Has the ‘terrorist’ attacks in Mumbai, has some connections with the Delhi elections. It is being reported that BJP was to end up third after Congress and BSP in the elections. If BJP were to do so badly in Delhi elections, they would have to write off their hopes for a come-back in next Lok Sabha elections.

5. Why CNN is connecting a local ‘terrorist’ attack to Al Qaida and making grounds for US/UK/Israel to muscle into the imbroglio as ‘interested parties’, so as to dictate terms on Indian government. Could it be a classic covert operation of entrapment of India?

6. Is India being prepared for a localized war with Pakistan?

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


November 27, 2008

from Amaresh Misra

date Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 11:41 AM


11:41 AM (9 minutes ago)

Mumbai and India Under Attack

It is 4AM in India right now. I am in Mumbai reporting from the ground. I have not slept a wink. Mumbai is under attack. People and forces who killed Mahatama Gandhi, who demolished the Babari Mosque have triumphed. More than 16 groups of terrorists have taken over Taj, Oberai and several hotels. Hundreds of people are dead. For the first time no one is blaming Muslim organizations. The Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare and other officers of the ATS have been killed. These were the same people who were investigating the Malegaon Blasts–in which Praggya Singh, an army officer and several other noted personalities of the BJP-RSS-Bajrang Dal-VHP were arrested. Karkare was the man to arrest them. Karkare was receiving threats from several quarters. LK Advani, the BJP chief and several other prominent leaders of the so-called Hindu terrorism squad were gunning for his head. And the first casualty in the terrorist attack was Karkare! He is dead–gone–the firing by terrorists began from Nariman House–which is the only building in Mumbai inhabited by Jews. Some Hindu Gujaratis of the Nariman area spoke live on several TV channels–they openly said that the firing by terrorists began from Nariman house. And that for two years suspicious activities were going on in this house. But no one took notice.

Our worst fears have come true. It is clear that Mossad is involved in the whole affair. An entire city has been attacked by Mossad and probably units of mercenaries. It is not possible for one single organization to plan and execute such a sophisticated operation. It is clear that this operation was backed by communal forces from within the Indian State. The Home Minister Shivraj Patil should resign. The RSS-BJP-VHP-Bajrang Dal should be banned. Advani and others ought to be arrested. Today is a day of shame for all Indians and all Hindus. Muslims and secular Hindus have been proven right. RSS type forces and Israel are all involved in not only destabilizing but finishing India. India should immediately snap all relations with Israel. We owe this much to Karkare and the brave ATS men who had shown the courage to arrest Praggya Singh, Raj Kumar Purohit, the army officer and several others.

A photograph publushed in Urdu Times, Mumbai, clearly shows that Mossad and ex-Mossad men came to India and met Sadhus and other pro-Hindutva elements recently. A conspiracy was clearly hatched.

This is a moment of reckoning especially for Hindus of India. The killers of Gandhi have struck again. If we are true Sanatanis and true Hindus and true nationalists and true patriots we have to see this act as a clear attack by anti-national deshdrohi forces. Praggya Singh, Advani and the entire brand is anti-national. They ought to be shot. Any Hindu siding with them is hereafter warned of serious consequences.

This is a question of nationalism. If no one else, the Indian army will not take this lying down. Communal, anti-national forces have attacked the very foundation of the Indian constitution and the nation. We will fight a civil war if need be against the pro-Hindutva, communal forces and their Israeli backers.

Amaresh Misra


Amaresh Misra


November 26, 2008



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rashtriya Sahara, Urdu Daily, Mumbai

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Front Page News


Central Intelligence Agencies vigilant investigating in the aftermath of Malegaon blast; Enquiry being held into the February 2007 visit of prominent Israeli religious delegation and meetings with Hindutvadi Sadhu, Sanths and political leaders; Mossad infiltration a cause of deep concern for Intelligence officials

New Delhi, November 25: (Agencies) – According to an exposé in a national daily published from Madhya Pradesh and several other cities, in the aftermath of the arrests of Sadhu, Sadhvi, and other extremist Hindutvadis as involved in the Malegaon bomb blast, Intelligence agencies are now concentrating on foreign connections of the radical Hindutvadis.

In an special report published by the national daily, it has exposed this sensational news that in central intelligence agencies are to be believed, extremist Hindutvadis have got support and motivation from Israeli secret agency, Mossad’s operations against the Arab and Muslim countries in the past.

The newspaper writes that relations between Mossad and CIA are world known. Report mentions that intelligence agencies are worried about the infiltration of Mossad and CIA in the country. According to undisclosed sources, Indian intelligence agencies are now examining the full details of the visit of Israel’s religious leaders to India and their meetings with Sadhu, Sanths. Intelligence agencies are investigating all those Hindu and Muslim leaders that the Israeli religious delegation had met.

According to the newspaper, it was during the rule of BJP’s Atul Behari Vajpayee; a beginning was made for the visits of Hindutvadis, and especially Sadhus and dharam gurus of the Sangh Parivar to Israel. These visits have been on the increase. It was during Vajpayee’s time, that the visits to Israel and consequently the relations and contacts of Sangh Parivar Dharam gurus and Hindutva leaders with Israel increased manifold.

According to the newspaper, for last ten years, the central intelligence agencies have been closely studying and analyzing the growing strength of Hindutvadi and Sangh Parivar organisations and the increasing violence through these organisations against Muslims, Christians, and minorities in Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka and other states. Intelligence agencies have disclosed that the visits of Jews and Israeli rabbis was not very frequent in the past, but it has increased to worrisome proportions, during last few years. Of all, the most studied is the February 2007 visit to Delhi of the delegation of Israeli Jewish religious leaders. The delegation was headed by Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Yonah Metzger.

In this delegation, Jewish religious leaders from Israel as well as others rabbis from Belgium and Spain too were included. In India, the Israel Jewish religious delegation met important Hindutva leaders, which included especially the RSS Chief K. S. Sudharshan, President of VHP, Ashok Singhal, VHP leader Vishnu Hari Dalmia.

After the meeting of the Sadhu Sanths and Jewish leaders, both delegations had issued a common manifesto.

In this meeting, Jewish Rabbis expressed grave concern over the details of the terrorist attacks allegedly carried out by Muslims, as narrated by Hindu dharam gurus. Secret Service sources disclosed that at the invitation of Israeli Jewish religious leaders, a delegation of Hindutva leaders had visited Israel this year. In this, some leaders of Sangh Parivar too were included.

The national daily, published from Madhya Pradesh and other places, in its report has exposed that the officials of the national intelligence agencies have categorically stated that American secret service agency, CIA together with Israel’s secret organisation Mossad, has carried out several secret operation all over Asia.

And now that the bomb blast of Malegaon and Modasa had involved the names of the fake Shankaracharya Amaranand alias Dayanand Pande, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, enquiries and investigation of relations between Jewish and Hindutva religious leaders from Israel and India are being severely felt and is being analyzed. This was disclosed by the newspaper report.

(Translation from Urdu)

Rashtriya Sahara, Urdu Daily, Mumbai

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Front Page News

Why investigation of Israeli connection of Hindutvadis?

New Delhi, November 25: The way ATS has arrested Hindutva extremists belonging to Sangh Parivar, in connection with Malegaon bomb blast, facts have emerged of international networking and support to Hindutva radicals. This has alarmed national intelligence community. India’s internal and external intelligence agencies and RAW have got busy trying to figure out if there is some big international conspiracy is being hatched behind the activities of hardline extremists of Sangh Parivar. According to secret sources, back in February 2007, an Israeli delegation headed by Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Yonah Metzger, and accompanied by several high ranking Jewish religious leaders, had visited India. This Jewish Religious delegation held meetings with many Sadhus, Sanths and Dharam gurus. The delegation also met some Muslim leaders. Now intelligence agencies have started investigations of the meetings of the Israeli delegation and local Sadhus, Sanths and dharam gurus. It is mentioned that the delegation of Israeli Jewish religious leaders has met leaders and dharam gurus from RSS, Sangh Parivar, VHP and BJP. Lal Krishna Advani had arranged a dinner for the visiting Israeli Jewish religious leaders’ delegation and others included in the delegation, at his own residence. According to high official, though the meeting of Sangh Parivar’s leaders to Israeli delegation is not of undue importance, but the way America’s secret service, CIA and Israel’s secret agency, Mossad, are infiltrating in Central Asian and South Asian countries, it is giving strength to the suspicions that in such delegations, members of foreign intelligence get included and through interaction and infiltration, secret operations are carried out. Those organisations that organise and support such visits and meetings, may or may not be aware of the secret mission of foreign agencies, the truth can come out only on investigations. For this reason, the national agencies are now concentrating on investigation of Sangh Parivar and its connections with Israeli lobby and Mossad.

(Translated from Urdu)

Terror in the aisles – By Khalid Mohamed – Hindustan Times

November 25, 2008

Tue,25 Nov 2008


Terror in the aisles

Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times

Email Author
November 24, 2008
First Published: 20:10 IST(24/11/2008)
Last Updated: 00:21 IST(25/11/2008)

Consider this. There would have been no Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), if its director Aditya Chopra had stuck to his resolve ― of narrating a love story about a boy-meets-girl in the midst of communal riots.
Turns out that their families are more incendiary and unreasonable than the rioters during the 1993-94 conflagrations in Mumbai.

Evidently, Chopra discarded his original script because he didn’t want to gamble with an iffy topic at the box office. Moreover, Mani Ratnam was already about to outrace him to the screens withBombay (1995), a sit-on-the-fence account of the riots carnage.

Today, Chopra’s much-vaunted Yash Raj banner is studying white collar terrorism in a film titled New York which has just completed principal shooting in the US. On another plane altogether, with the sleeper successes of Khuda Kay Liye (imported from Pakistan) andA Wednesday, as well as the critical laurels gathered by Aamir andMumbai Meri Jaan, terrorism has become a desirable theme on Bollywood’s storyboard. In addition, Muslims have also been associated with D-Company godsons and god-bhais who squat in dimly lit ghetto interiors designed by Ram Gopal Varma.

Is this what we are? Without attempting to understand the Muslim psyche or why lumpen elements are spawned, screenplays are setting up despicable stereotypes. Muslims in films today, are out to kill in the garb of assassins and assorted bozos who have emerged from a limbo land.

In this, Indian cinema is not alone. The Muslim as the terrorist lunatic is everywhere, be it in a Die Hard blockbuster, giving Bruce Willis a run for his bullets. And the infallibly bearded and shifty Muslim is a staple in every hijack ‘entertainer.’ In the recent rush of Hollywood war movies, the Muslim is by contrast faceless but as dreadful. Although these movies critique the US involvement in the Iraq war, the recalcitrant American soldier is canonised as the war hero. As for the other’s dead? Hopefully they art in heaven, inshallah.

More than any other cinemas of the world, ours has to deal with a multiplicity of communities. Like the Parsis, too often reduced to air-gulping clowns. As for Christians, they are portrayed as ‘Kya bolta hai, men?’ rum guzzlers or are represented by Janet of Fashion who must choose between unhappiness and marrying a gay at a church wedding. None of us has come a long way baby.

Minorities just cannot be heroic. Custom has made it a must for the hero to be a Rahul or a Rohit and the heroine to be a Sapna or Suman. In any case, beyond the same old naming ceremonies, how many of the ‘now’ generation’s film makers are even remotely interested in breaking the norms or in doing something ― anything! ― through a populist medium?

Entertainment, it is presumed, doesn’t gel with purposeful stories. It is argued that mainstream cinema, by its very nature, isn’t realistic or relevant to the conditions around us.

Periodically, demographic statistics have affirmed that the Indian Muslim is the most fervent and passionate filmgoer. In most metropolitan cities, after the Friday afternoon namaaz, sizeable numbers make a beeline for the new movie in town. Lose them and you lose a huge slab of the ticket vote-bank. Indeed, in a bid to appease this section of the audience, there was a time when films would add a sympathetic Chacha Rahim, a qawwal Altaf, or a sacrificial goat who takes the bullet for Hero Rohit at the end.

Today, though, there is something downright crude in the representation of Muslims in the movies. For instance, there was neither head nor tale to the Salman Khan clinker, Tumko Na Bhool Payenge(2002), in which a Muslim gadabout goes amnesiac, is adopted by a Hindu family, retrieves his memory and fetches up at the Haji Ali dargah. If any point was being conveyed it was entirely lost on the audience. Maine Dil Tujhko Diya (2002) exhibited Sanjay Dutt as a Muslim don with a heart of gold; Dutt repeated the act as ‘Iqbal Danger’ in Annarth (2002). Nothing can be done. We have been painted by the bhai brush.

Even in films that are notches above the commonplace, there have been transgressions. Example:Sarfarosh (1999). The bad guy, Naseeruddin Shah, is a ghazal singer from Pakistan. As if to redress the balance, a cop is depicted as a nationalist Muslim victimised by his superiors and by the world at large.

Most filmmakers care a dried fig for what sub-texts and subterranean messages are being bleeped out to an audience that is largely unlettered and impressionable. If Muslim bashing is on, so be it.

Still, any purist (idealistic?) filmmaker will tell you that characters emerge from the plot ― caste, creed and religion no bar. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, brown or white, Hindu, Muslim or Christian. As long as the filmmaker believes in a story, as long as there is conviction that the story must be told, that’s cinema.

Otherwise, you might as well play the anorexic stock market, the loaded roulette or the iffy horse races. Playing with cinema and communities may pay… but for how long and, at whose expense?