Terrorists struck Mumbai, the
financial capital of India killing 150 people and injuring 439
No group has taken
responsibility but suspicion is Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
Pakistan denies culpability
India has not blamed Pakistan
but police has found large caches of arms in recent past pointing to Pakistan
but failed to predict this large an attack
Terrorists struck Mumbai, the Indian financial nerve center, by blasting a
string of 7 powerful bombs within 11 minutes on commuter trains and stations
packed to the brim at commute hour killing 150 people and injuring 439 others.
The metro system in Mumbai carries an estimated 1.6 million people every day
and this attack on the Western line was apparently focused on extracting the
maximum casualties. Police sources fear that casualty numbers may be higher
than early reports suggest. Suburban services on the Central and Harbor lines
were not affected.
Survivors relate tales of blood and gore where bleeding survivors jumped off
speeding trains in panic. They praise the bravery of locals who rescuing
passengers, organizing evacuation, and delivering first aid even before the
police arrived. They highlight the compassion of a heartless metropolis where
restaurateurs gave free food, shop-owners giving free water, residents granting
free lodging, vehicle owners giving free rides, and private hospitals granting
medical attention regardless of the financial capacity of those brought in.
As news of the explosion spread,
mobile services and land lines
were jammed and panic-stricken
commuters rushing to call their
close relatives and friends about
their were unable to do so. People
reached the affected spots in
15-20 minutes but local youth
swung into action and with utter
disregard for their own life used
bed sheets, clothing, or other
material and commandeered all
taxis to move the injured to
hospitals. The state government
announced an immediate ex-gratia
aid of Rs one lakh (USD 2,000) to
the families of the dead.
Intelligence agencies are unsure
of what happened but the usual
suspects include the banned
Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Students
Islamic Movement of India (SIMI),
Dawood Ibrahim, and the al Qaeda.
Many analysts were surprised that
the intelligence agencies did not
have any inkling of this attack.
Previous Terror Incidents
March 12, 1993:
Serial explosions occurred at 13
places killing 257 persons and
December 2, 2002: Two
persons killed and 31 injured in
an explosion in a bus outside a
December 6, 2002:
Twenty-five persons injured in a
bomb blast at a McDonalds
restaurant at Mumbai Central
suburban railway station.
January 27, 2003: At least
30 persons injured when a bomb
planted on a bicycle went off
outside Vile Parle railway
March 13, 2003: A powerful
bomb blast shattered a coach of a
local train killing 11 persons and
August 25, 2003: At least
48 were persons killed and 150
injured in two blasts in south
While agencies have been anticipating an
explosion of violence at 1989 levels sponsored by the ISI the
expectation was that this was going to be confined to the
Jammu & Kashmir
and not all over India. However, there has been a rising trend of police
discovering large caches of arms, bomb making material, and weapons in
Maharashtra. It is not known whether the police thought that they had got
it all and what follow-through investigations were kicked off with the
revelations of those arrested with those raids.
Security Analysts fear that more attacks targeting the railway system as it
has a poorly trained, equipped, and disenfranchised security force that has no
accountability of enforcement. Moreover, the sheer volume of people traveling
on this system makes it impossible for fool-proof mechanisms of security. The
usual modus operandi is to leave behind a briefcase, a lunch box, or other
common items under a seat with a timer setting.
The motive for this incident is unknown but the objective is clearly to attack
the financial nerve center of India, create investor-panic, and cause
disruption in daily life. India suspects Pakistan which immediately disavows
any connection to such incidents. However, intelligence agencies argue that
paying someone to do the dirty work does not absolve the dreaded
Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. Unlike past incidents, India is not quick
to lay the blame on Islamabad. This is attributed to reluctance of the
Government to scuttle the ongoing peace process with Pakistan.
However, what policy makers need to remember is that peace cannot be bought
and requires mutual desire for peace. The Pakistan Army is notorious for its
unending appetite to see what it can get away with and less worried with what
it is capable of getting away with. Every time there is a peace process, there
are terrorist incidents for which the Pakistani claims innocence and passes it
to rogue elements within its own system. By outsourcing the problem to the ISI,
which then contracts the hits to terrorist outfits, the Pakistan Government has
successfully established deniability and non-culpable terrorism. India must
stop this well used trend and refuse any conversation till Pakistan is able to
hand over top criminals hiding in Pakistan. Further, it should also make life
inconvenient for Pakistani terrorists to operate in India. Free travel of
passengers from Pakistan has not only weakened Indian security but is also allowing
flow of heroin into India.
The only way to avoid and not completely eliminate such incidents is
developing a strong intelligence network. Ranging from
menace to regional subversion, the Home Ministry is fighting too many fires
reactively and not developing a comprehensive intelligence network nationally.
Instead of using clichés to divert blame, it needs to develop a strategy to
develop stronger intelligence network.