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

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



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