Monday, December 1, 2008

Mumbai terror and our own villains

It is with a sense of great grief that I write this. For the last many days, all of us have witnessed the horror unleashed by a handful of marauders on the high and mighty businessmen, the intelligent Indian, the tired and poor train traveller or the innocent foreigners who were all at the wrong place at the wrong time. But who would ever imagine in the wildest of fantasies that places of hospitality could one day be bloody prisons of terror?

The ordeal has ended but the deal hasn’t. Our everwilling netas are always ready to make a deal out of any calamity. To use a situation to the best of their political ability is a trait which seems to have become chronic in them regardless of the prevailing situation. During the sixty hours of the carnage, when our country was facing its most severe test, our politicians continued their back stage actions as usual. The Mumbai terror and its horror failed to change their thick skin or their love for accumulating accolades for the work of someone else. The maneuvers and the moves of our politicians did not change one bit inspite of the terror situation and therefore I sadly feel that there will be no lessons learnt from this bitter experience with terror.

While the terrorists planned this operation very well they were doubly helped by a corrupt cum careless poLax Coastal security at Tajlitical system of our country. For starters coast guard surveillance is a joke and the lesser coverage it is given the more it will save the embarrassment of the country. Implementation or attention to intelligence input is another malady. The terrorists surely tested every barricade of namesake security, on the coastline, months in advance of the operation to ensure its smooth execution. The gross failure therefore was a lack of sustained response to whatever intelligence received and the people responsible for this lapse should be as accountable as the terrorists.

The test of Mumbai as a state with the ability to activate urgency of action in the face of a terror attack was laughable. More so because Mumbai has been a victim of terror as the most among all metros in India and the response time to face a terror situation should have been their strength. HowNSG commandosever it took a painstaking 9 ½ hours for the political establishment to garner the NSG commandos to the site. While the terrorists struck at 9.30 pm on 26th November night, the NSG commandos entered the operation only at 7 a.m the next day the 27th Of November 2008. 9 ½ hours to get your elite experts into the battlefield. This long time gave the terrorists ample time to form countless strategies, take up key defence positions, chat leisurely with their masters in Pakistan over satellite phones and execute most of the victims at hand like chickens slaughtered on order. It is now learnt that most of the people killed were on the first night of the terror which could have been averted had our commandos been rushed with the least loss of time.

How did the government of maharashtra show such laxity? Such unpreparedness for an eventuality which is as much as unseasonal rain in your city. Are we not prepared for an unseasonal shower? So how did our political establishment find itself wanting in such an easily expected situation? From lazy red-taped phone calls to waking up NSG commandos in far away Delhi, to strapping their uniforms, , to collecting ammunition and firearms, to boarding delayed planes to hushing NSG commandos into pitiful BEST buses, to finally briefing them about the operation, the hotel etc, the whole exercise wasted over 9 ½ hours of precious time, precious lives, showed the narrow foresight of our leaders and ultimately shows how much the Maharashtra or the Indian government cares for swiftness in dealing with terror.

With terror always knocking on any random city in India, this mentality of storing NSG commandos only in the capital city shows that the government has no regular terrorunderstanding of logistics. Or it simply has no regard for terror against its citizens. There is absolutely no application or will to apply its mind. Who is responsible for this and who will get the due punishment? Mere resignations are the expected norm. But who will show accountability for the over 200 lives lost and countless injured? For the record, no one will be punished because no one had the foresight to think about response time and terror. Either Anti terrorism squads and other machineries work without foresight or their recommendations are not paid heed to . Whatever it is it needs to be streamlined. But will it?

While the entire operation was on, the Prime Minister and the congress president decided to undertake the political routine of visiting the affected and the injured of Mumbai.( One wonders as to who is pleased or comforted by such inconsequential visits.) However the security establishment advised the two not to venture Terror victims in hospitalinto the city due to the fluid security threat. Soon enough television channels flashed the change of plans of the prime minister and Ms Sonia Gandhi against the back drop of the advice. However politics and its ugly head had to step in. The perennial prime minister- in –eternal –waiting, Mr Lal Krishna Advani seized this golden opportunity to score political mileage and announced that he was going to visit the city at any cost despite the threat. And soon enough the PM and the congress president made a turnaround and re-announced their visit to the city lest Mr Advani beats them to the political game. What a shame that even while the country had no time to mourn for the dead and the anti-terror operations were still on, our top most leaders were engaged in political wrestling.

It did not however stop at that. The three were expected to come together on a single flight along with Mr Jaswant Singh to project (although with a thick curtain of hypocrisy) the unity of India in calamity. However they failed to possibly reach a consensus on this and traveled separately to ensure minimal loss to their own political gains. What a leadership tragedy to befall India and Indians at such trying times.

Meanwhile the visit of these politicians including the chief Minister of Gujarat did nothing to assuage the situation in Mumbai. On the contrary it added to the burden of providing VVIP security to a state already reeling under attack. Hospitals and venues of visits required complete sanitizing and clearance of relatives and visiting friends for their visit, inflicting more pain and trauma on the victims whom they visited. It also meant more security, more threat. This was an unnecessary distraction on an already burdened security apparatus which was least required at such trying times. But political wisdom outran common sense. Who is going to question our political leaders on this needless political dance during a crisis?

Mumbai has more high rise buildings then probably anywhere else in the country. Yet helpless firefighters Modern Fire Fighting Equipmentwere handling fire fighting equipment which could reach only as much as the fifth floor of the Taj or the Oberoi. The water pipes could not make it more than the fifth floor. The high rise equipment came in much later. Forget about planning for a terror attack, there is no plan for a fire attack. What a shame. The world must be surely crackling in laughter at our capacity to handle mere fire and thrust our firefighters into extreme risk. And we are talking about our great future in economic super stardom with great pride as if that was the only bone missing in our diseased body. If a great city like Mumbai has such pitfalls in basic infrastructural preparedness, one can imagine the horrors of facing a similar terror attack in any other part of the country.

Our leadeBulletproof jackets to fight terrorrs despite having a very high budget for defence, end up equipping our police and NSG forces with some obsolete armour such as creaking helmets and outdated, corroded bulletproof jackets hurtling them into the hell of warfare without proper equipment thus thrusting their lives into maximum risk. This was amply evident in the Mumbai terror attack. Is there no semblance of accountability in the system or is the corruption in the defence expenditure so lavish that even basic equipment is compromised with such unabashed skill? There is no plan, no program and no will from our political morons to upgrade and stay updated with the latest equipment so that the safety of our valiant armymen is not compromised. They are probably willing to cherish their "chalta hai" slogan so that the money due to the equipment can fill their own coffers.
Some leaders like the Deputy CM of Maharashtra seem to find both solace and thrill in the fact that only 200 died in an apparent original terror plan of 5000 victims. This information was enough for him to trumpet his seemingly sadistic achievement while commenting on the Mumbai terror as a small incident. How such jokers find places of such high position as the Dy. CM of a state like Maharashtra and then use those positions to flaunt their brand of rotten thinking is something the citizens need to awaken up to. Mr Julio Ribeiro the former supercop spoke about the immediate need of police reforms. What about political reforms? But then political reforms in India is not only a dream. With the current pack of politicians at the helm it is an impossibility.

It clearly seems that our intelligence bureaus are bereft of any intelligence. It clearly exposes itself as a body with no sense of purpose. Intelligence if any, seems to be treated with condemnable laxity and one only hears about pre-warning intelligence inputs being ignored long after the haul is over. What kind of an intelligence is this which has no actions. Terror attacks are being executed with alarming regularity and all that happens after that is a hotch potch autopsy with no corrective action taken. Whatever corrective action is taken lasts for a few days or months and then the complacency setting in, is enough window for the glee of the terrorist to stamp his authority once again.

There has been no terror attack in the United States after 9/11 and in the UK after 7/7 and although one may argue their advantage of geographical locations and less porous borders and infiltrations, one must also consider that these countries have more enemies than India. Also their security apparatus after the horrors of the attacks in their countries has been water tight, has triple rings of security and numerous strategies of terror are probably nipped in the bud and not disclosed due to intelligence protection.

The terror attacks failed to change our leaders. And that is the biggest victory the terrorists have taken away after every attack making their next one relatively easier. Even after this latest terror attack, there will be quarters opposing a federal agency, anti-terror laws will get no further teeth thanks to their abuse and condemned terrorists will find great friends in our political statesmen who encourage them to flaunt their bewildering freedom leaving them to chuckle with contempt at our butter fingers in executing terrorists even after our supreme courts awarding them with death sentences .

Thankfully families of some great policemen and that of major Unnikrishnan have shown complete disrespect to the politician and his evil of gaining Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan - Our valiant heropolitical mileage out of every tragedy in the country has been met with brilliant resistance. One wishes they would learn from this blunt slap in their face from the families of our valiant heroes. But ironically our politicians are too thick skinned to let such things affect their political morale. Their actions and reactions have become so chronic to various situations that the routine of their political plots are automatically programmed in them and are hard to find change.

The obituaries of Indians may be written by criminals in the ISI and the Lashker-e-toibas of Pakistan, but the real villains and publishers of those obituaries are right here in the establishment of India.
Xittuk Goencar

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