The Mumbai Terror Attacks: Need For a Thorough Investigation: RH

This guest post comes from a friend who wishes to be known as RH

In all the confusion and horror generated by the ghastly terrorist attacks in Bombay, a dimension which has not received the attention it deserves is the circumstances surrounding the death of Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare and two of his colleagues, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte. The major pattern of operations involved well-organised attacks on a few high-profile sites in Colaba – the Taj, Oberoi and Trident Hotels, and the less-known Nariman House – while a parallel set of operations was centred on Victoria Terminus or VT (now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or CST) station, Cama Hospital and the Metro cinema, in the middle of which is the police headquarters where Karkare worked. The latter is an area where foreigners are much less likely to be found.

Why is a Proper Investigation Crucial?

Hemant Karkare was engaged in unearthing a terror network with characteristics which had not been seen so far. The investigation started by tracing the motorcycle used to plant bombs in Malegaon in September 2008 to a Hindu Sadhvi, Pragyasingh Thakur; it later uncovered a cellphone conversation between her and Ramji, the man who planted the bombs, in which she asked why more people had not been killed. For the first time, the Indian state was conducting a thorough professional probe into a terror network centred on Hindu extremist organisations, this one with huge ramifications, some leading into military and bomb-making training camps and politicised elements in the army, others into organisations and political leaders affiliated to the BJP.  One of the most potentially explosive discoveries was that a serving army officer, Lt.Col. Srikant Purohit, had procured 60 kg of RDX from government supplies for use in the terrorist attack on the Samjhauta Express (the India-Pakistan ‘Understanding’ train) in February 2007, in which 68 people were killed, the majority of them Pakistanis. Initially, militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Islamist terror groups had been accused of carrying out the attack, but no evidence against them had been found.

The hostility generated by this investigation was enormous, with allegations that the suspects had been tortured and that Karkare was being used as a political tool, and demands that the ATS team should be changed. Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate L.K.Advani accused him of being a ‘desh drohi’ or traitor, a charge that in India carries a death penalty, and the Shiv Sena offered legal aid to those accused of the terrorist attack, complaining that ‘The government does not save Hindus from terrorists, and if Hindus defend themselves, they are maligned’.  In an interview shortly before he died, Karkare admitted he was hurt by the campaign against him. On November 26, just before the terrorist attack, the police in Pune received a call from an anonymous caller saying in Marathi that Karkare would be killed in a bomb blast within two or three days.

Just as attitudes to Karkare in society at large were polarised, with some admiring him as a hero – one Maulana went so far as to call him a ‘massiha (messiah) of Muslims’, an amazing tribute from a Muslim to a Hindu – while others hated him as a traitor worthy of death, attitudes within the police force too were polarised. For example, dismissed encounter specialist Sachin Vaze (who with three colleagues was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and concealment of the dead body in the case of Khwaja Yunus shortly before the terrorist attack) was a member of the Shiv Sena who was actively engaged in the campaign against Karkare and in support of the Malegaon blast accused. Vaze and several other encounter specialists who had been dismissed for corruption, extortion and links with the underworld also had a grudge against Salaskar, whom they suspected of informing on them.

Hard Evidence or Pulp Fiction?

Given this background, and reports that are riddled with inconsistencies, it is not surprising that many residents of Bombay are asking questions about the exact circumstances of the death of Hemant Karkare and his colleagues. The earliest reports, presumably relayed from the police via the media, said that Karkare had been killed at the Taj, and Salaskar and Kamte at Metro. If this was not true, why were we told this? And why was the story later changed? Was it because it conflicted with eye-witness accounts? In the early hours of the 27th, under the heading ‘ATS Chief Hemant Karkare Killed: His Last Pics’, IBNlive showed footage first of Karkare putting on a helmet and bullet-proof vest, then cut to a shootout at Metro, where an unconscious man who looks like Karkare and wearing the same light blue shirt and dark trousers (but without any blood on his shirt or the terrible wounds we saw on his face at his funeral) is being pulled into a car by two youths in saffron shirts. The commentary says that Karkare ‘could well have fallen prey to just indiscriminate, random firing by the cops’, and also reports that there were two vehicles, a Toyota Qualis and Honda City, from which the occupants were firing indiscriminately.

Later we were given two accounts of the killings where the venue is shifted to a deserted lane without cameras or eye-witnesses. The first account is by the lone terrorist captured alive, claiming to be A.A.Kasab from Faridkot in Pakistan and a member of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. According to him, just two gumen, he and Ismail (also from Pakistan), first attacked VT station, where they sprayed bullets indiscriminately. (Around 58 people were killed there, over one-third of them Muslims, and many more might have been killed if the announcer, Mr Zende, had not risked his life to direct passengers to safety.) They then went to Cama, a government hospital for women and children used mainly by the poor. Initially, according to the police, Kasab claimed he and Ismail had killed Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte.   Later, in his ‘confession,’ he claimed that while coming out of the hospital, he and Ismail saw a police vehicle passing and hid behind a bush; then another vehicle passed them and stopped some distance away. A police officer got out and started firing at them, hitting Kasab on the hand so that he dropped his AK47, but Ismail opened fire on the officers in the car until they stopped firing. There were three bodies in the vehicle, which Ismail removed, and then drove off in it with Kasab.

The other account is by police constable Arun Jadhav. According to him, Karkare, Salaskar, Kamte, a driver and four police constables including himself were driving down the alley from VT to the back entrance of Cama (barely a ten-minute drive) in their Toyota Qualis to check on injured police officer Sadanand Date when two gunmen emerged from behind trees by the left side of the road and sprayed the vehicle with bullets, killing all its inmates except Jadhav. They then dragged out the three officers, hijacked the vehicle, drove to Metro junction and then Mantralaya in South Bombay, abandoned it when a tyre burst, and grabbed another car. According to police accounts, they then drove to Girgaum, where Kasab was injured and arrested and his companion killed.

These accounts raise more questions than they answer. Kasab claimed that a band of ten terrorists landed and split up into twos, going to various destinations, he and his companion going to VT. He said they wanted to blow up the Taj, as in the attack on the Marriott in Islamabad; yet we are told that only 8kg of RDX were found at the Taj, and even that was not used; contrast this with 600kg of RDX and TNT used to blow up the Marriott: could they really have expected to blow up the Taj? How did the invaders from the sea get one bomb to go off in Dockyard Road and another in Vile Parle, 25 kilometres away? He said that the terrorists planned to use their hostages as a means of escape, yet there was no attempt at any such negotiations; at other times, he also said they had been instructed to fight to the death.   He says he is a labourer from Faridkot near Multan and only studied up to Class IV, but it is reported that he speaks fluent English. Several people have pointed out that the pictures of him in VT show him wearing a saffron wrist-band, a Hindu custom, and police later revealed that he could not recite a single verse from the Koran, which any child growing up in a Muslim family would have been able to do. Indeed, a thoughtful article on the soc.culture.jewish group argued that the terrorists were not Muslims but mercenaries, given their appearance and behaviour (especially their reported consumption of alcohol and drugs), pointing out that they did not need to disguise themselves, since Muslims who look like Muslims are plentiful in Bombay, and would not attract undue attention.

During his interrogation, Kasab said that he and eight of the operatives had done a reconaissance trip to Bombay a few months back, pretending to be students and renting a room at Colaba market, which is close to Nariman House. It is extremely hard for Pakistani nationals to get Indian visas, and they are kept under close surveillance by the police; it is also most unlikely that the Indian immigration authorities would be fooled by forged passports of another country. In that case, the Indian immigration authorities would have visa applications of nine of the terrorists including Kasab, and could match the photographs in them to those of the terrorists: has this been done? Later, Kasab changed his story and said that the team who carried out reconnaisance was different from the team who had carried out the attacks.

The events in VT and Cama and the back lane also put a question mark over his story. According to witnesses, two gunmen started firing at the mainline terminus in VT at 21.55 on Wednesday night,  but at precisely the same time, according to CCTV footage, two gunmen began an assault on the suburban terminus.   If the first account is true, there were four gunmen at the station: where did the other two come from, and where did they go? We are shown video footage, claiming to be CCTV but without the timeline of normal CCTV footage, of Kasab and Ismail wandering around the parking lot near the mainline terminus. This surely cannot be before the shootout, since the station is completely deserted; and after the shootout, Kasab and Ismail are supposed to have escaped via the footbridge from Platform 1 of the suburban station on the other side of VT: this, again, suggests there were four gunmen. Even if Kasab and Ismail had been shown photographs of Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte before they embarked on their trip, how could they possibly have identified the police officers in a dark alley in the dead of night according to Kasab’s first story? According to later his confession, a police officer got out of the vehicle and started firing first, injuring him; how, then, did Ismail manage to kill the rest by himself?

Witnesses in Cama hospital say the terrorists spoke fluent Marathi, and this report in two Marathi papers (Maharashtra Times and Navakaal of 28 /12/ 2008)  has been confirmed. The gunmen killed two guards in uniform, spared a third, who was in civilian dress and begged for his life saying he was the husband of a patient, demanded water from an employee in the staff quarters and then killed him. They then appear to have made a beeline for the 6th floor (which was empty) and the terrace, taking with them the liftman, Tikhe. 15-30 minutes later, six to eight policemen arrived, and another employee took them up to the 6th floor. The policemen threw a piece of steel up to the terrace, whereupon Tikhe came running down and told them there were two terrorists on the terrace. A fierce gun-battle ensued for 30 to 45 minutes, in which ACP Sadanand Date was injured. Panic-stricken patients and staff in the maternity ward on the 5th floor barricaded the door; nurses instructed the women to breast-feed their babies to keep them quiet, and one woman, who was in the middle of labour, was told to hold back the birth; but they were not invaded. Eventually the gunmen appear to have escaped, it is not clear how.  If they were Kasab and Ismail, then these two must have been fluent Marathi speakers. And why would they have taken up positions on the terrace? Was it because they would have a direct view of the lane in which Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte were later supposedly killed?

The other account is equally dubious. In his first account, Jadhav said Karkare was in the second row of the Qualis, while in the second he was supposed to be in the front row with Kamte.   In the second account, Salaskar was initially sitting behind the driver, but then asked the driver to slow down and got behind the wheel himself: is it plausible that an experienced encounter specialist would deliberately make himself into a sitting duck like this when they were in hot pursuit of terrorists? In the first account they were supposed to be going to check up on their injured colleague Sadanand Date, but in the second were supposed to be looking for a red car in which they had been told the gunmen were travelling. If the report about the red car was a decoy to lure them into an ambush, it is important to know who told them that the terrorists were in a red car. If the gunmen were firing from the left side, as Jadhav claimed, how was Karkare hit three times in the chest while Jadhav himself got two bullets in his right arm? In fact, the only vegetation in that part of the lane is on the right side and has wire netting around it; it would be necessary to climb over the netting to hide behind it, and climb over again to come out: impossible under the circumstances.  Witnesses say only two bodies were found at the spot next morning: what happened to the third officer? Who were the three constables killed?

How did two terrorists manage to kill six police personnel, including Karkare and Kamte who he said were armed with AK47s and Salaskar, an encounter specialist, when one terrorist was later captured and the other killed by policemen armed only with two rifles and lathis? Assistant Police Inspector Ombale was killed in that encounter, but his colleagues survived.

There was also an intriguing report in DNA on 28 November saying that Anand Raorane, a resident of a building opposite Nariman House, heard sounds of celebration from the terrorists there when the news of Karkare getting killed was flashed on TV: isn’t that strange? The same report quoted a resident of Nariman House and a local shopkeeper who said that the terrorists had purchased large quantities of food and liquor before the attack, suggesting that more than two of them were planning to occupy the place for a long time. Another DNA report, on 2 December, said that sub-inspector Durgude, who had been posted in front of St Xavier’s College, between Cama Hospital and the exit point of the back lane onto Mahapalika Road, saw two young men whom he took to be students and called out to warn them that there was firing at Cama. When they ignored him, he approached them, upon which one of them turned an AK47 on him and killed him. If Kasab and Ismail were there, who was firing inside Cama? Eye-witnesses in St Xavier’s saw a man shot and lying on the pavement in front of the college around 12.30 a.m., while about three gunmen stood over him: who was that? Various reports said that two to eight terrorists were captured alive. Now there is only one in police custody: what happened to the other(s)?

A careful scrutiny of all the reports available so far suggests, to this writer anyway, that the killing of Karkare and his colleagues was a premeditated act, executed by a group that had stationed gunmen at various points along the general route between VT and the Metro cinema with a view to maximising their chances of a successful murderous assault.

The Objective: Shutting Down Terrorist Networks

These are just a few of the numerous questions being asked by vigilant Bombayites who find themselves thoroughly dissatisfied with the information that has been doled out. These are citizens who understand the importance of identifying terrorist networks and shutting them down, but doubt that this will be done by the authorities. Why are they so cynical about the possibility of a genuine professional investigation? The answer is that we have too much bitter experience of investigations in which innocent people (usually Muslim youth) are rounded up, tortured and even killed, while the real culprits are allowed to go free. Karkare broke with this dismal record, but now he is dead. When a person who has been vilified, slandered and threatened with death is killed in suspicious circumstances, it is imperative that a proper investigation should be carried out soon, before too much evidence can be manufactured and/or destroyed. If Kasab aka Iman disappears or is assassinated like Lee Harvey Oswald, or is executed, that would be further evidence of a conspiracy.

The government and people of Pakistan have as much interest as the government and people of India in eliminating the terror networks that have killed President Asif Ali Zardari’s wife Benazir Bhutto and thousands of others in both Pakistan and India. The terrorists, on the other hand, be they Islamist or Hindutva, have a common interest in destroying secularism, democracy and peace within and between the two countries. That is their precise agenda. Pakistani politicians have offered a joint investigation into the terrorist attacks, a far more sensible suggestion than the belligerent statements by some Indians accusing Pakistan of harbouring terrorists who are killing Indians. It should be obvious that a military conflict between India and Pakistan would be disastrous for both countries economically, while a nuclear war, which might ensue if extremist forces captured power in both countries, would have unthinkable consequences. If the Indo-Pakistan peace process is halted, as L.K.Advani advocates, the terrorists would have won.

Indeed, without a joint investigation, the terrorist networks behind this outrage can never be uncovered: how else could the names and addresses in Pakistan revealed by Kasab be followed up to the satisfaction of all parties? A team of Pakistani investigators should be invited to come to Bombay and interview Kasab. If he is indeed a Lashkar-e-Taiba militant, he will be able to provide invaluable information, and a team of investigators from India should be invited to Pakistan to pursue the investigation there. If, as some reports have indicated, he is not what he claims to be, that too would become clear. The Indian government owes it to the memory of Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte, who died fighting terrorism of all hues, to establish exactly where, when and how they were killed, identify their killers, and make sure that their work is continued. They also owe it to us, the public, who are the prime targets of all terrorist attacks, to carry out a credible investigation which identifies and puts behind bars all the mass murderers involved in this and other attacks.


14 thoughts on “The Mumbai Terror Attacks: Need For a Thorough Investigation: RH”

  1. Who is the author RH?? If he is raising questions then let us reiterate that this is not fiction writing….this is true terrror and people have been killed and it is also the truth that there are terrorists out there on the other side of the border who are inspiring feud and disablity in the youth here. Samjhauta was not anyone’s figment of fantasy…it is to be understood that like all bollywood movies stories are not cooked up here to mislead investigators. This is real life. India had enough courage to investigate its own wrong-doers and curb terrorism in all its forms by trying out sandhus and sadhvis. Is Pakistan able to bring to book the killers of its brave leader, Benazir? So who needs to pull up socks and talk about thorough investigations? Its time we woke up before destruction raises its ugly neck while we are at each others throats guzzling fiction and crying hoarse the uncertainties surrounding us.

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  2. Rashomon effect!!

    Thank you Akira Kurosawa for making a movie called ‘Rashomon’ in early 50’s, I think, a remake is long due and this event will certainly make a good plot for one such movie.
    Even when I am writing this, some more possibilities are coming in my mind. In one story we can have Pragya Thakur playing part, by making her come out of the prison, through another interesting story, for killing Karkare. In another, Lt. Col. Purohit can play the role of assassin, even Praveen Togadia can be allowed to become part of one of the segment, he can be shown killing with a ‘Trishul’ followed by gun shots.

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  3. rohitkaliyar – did you ever actually see Rashomon? You seem to think that “Rashomon effect” refers to crazy alternative scenarios about one clear truth, when in fact what the film did was precisely to question the idea that there can be one and only one truthful account of an event, and to foreground the importance of perception on how an incident is remembered.
    In other words, you are way off the mark when you use Rashomon’s authority to mock the questions that RH raises here. RH is not alone in these doubts – I had in earlier post, pointed to the suspicious nature of Karkare’s death, and now Antulay has come right out and said it.
    Of course, unfortunately, the fact that he is Muslim makes it easy to attack him as “taking the heat off Pakistan”, and media reports about “Muslim support” for Antulay’s theory deliberately delegitimize a concern shared by many Indians, and not only Muslims.
    It is also a red herring to rant as the media and the BJP and so on have been, that we need to combat terrorism, and not raise such doubts – the two are not mutually exclusive courses of action. None of those I mention here who raise these doubts, claims that the entire operation was meant to eliminate Karkare. But certainly it was a very convenient time to take out someone already on a hit list.

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  4. I do not understand the controversy over Antulay’s remarks. It is one thing that Karkare has been established to have been killed by the Pakistani terrorists. But isn’t it a possibility that the Hindutva terrorists also could have had an interest in eliminating him? Why chastise Antulay for asking this question? If the Pakistani terrorists did not kill Karkare, they still killed 200-odd others, and not killing Karkare doesn’t make their acts and the support of their masters across the border any less reprehensible.

    RH has tried to put up a spirited defence for Pakistan and to imply that the terrorists were Hindus and not Muslims from Pakistan. Even the Pakistani media has produced incontrovertible evidence for where Kasab comes from, endorsed by none other than Navaz Sharif. Here is a soul who would make Zardari and Hamid Gul proud! Great work, brother! It takes all kinds to make this world!!

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  5. Basically what RH is saying is the RSS and/or other assorted Hindu baddies, upon realizing that a terrorist attack was in progress, quickly mobilized their own terrorist cell, armed them with the same kind of weapons the actual terrorists were using and put them on the road where the actual attack was in progress. All in under about 15 minutes since the attack began – by far the fastest ever mobilization in the face of a chaotic terrorist attack, something even the Army would find difficult to achieve! The VHP/BD terrorists, being trained and skilled in the art of using grenades and AK-47s, matched the Pakistani terrorists in their usage of bullets, bombs and tactics. They were so smart that even the terrorists did not suspect that they were being shadowed by another group of armed men right behind them, on their trail!

    These RSS terrorists as I shall call them then proceeded to stake out Sri Karkare who they knew was bound to come on that road to take on the Pakistani terrorists. They then managed to spot Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar in the vehicle. How they managed to do so when it is being claimed that the Pakistani terrorists could not have spotted them in the darkness is left as an exercise in fertile imagination to the reader; but it is just possible that the RSS terrorists were armed with Night Vision Goggles stolen from Army facilities. After all it is proven that about 60% of the Army has links with radical Hindutvavadis…

    Back to the scene of action – the RSS terrorists, sure that their identities would be mistaken for the pakistanis’ pumped bullets into the three officers. However, for reasons unknown, they also entered Cama Hospital instead of heading home and distributing laddoos. There, the RSS walas revealed their stupidity by shouting in fluent Marathi before all and sundry for nearly an hour, thereby establishing their true identities before bolting out and disappearing into the night.

    All this happened virtually in the footsteps of the rampaging Pakistani terrorists and yet the Pakistanis did not shoot them dead. This probably means that it was a joint operation by the RSS terrorists and their LeT counterparts in Pakistan.

    This is what RH’s insinuating and frankly I have no words for it.

    In the event of terror strikes, in my humble opinion, one simply cannot rely on eyewitness accounts or journalists jogging their memories. We have to rely on the outcome of the post-attack interrogation. Terrorists are trained to create mayhem by erratic movements, counter-intuitive actions and concealing their true intentions for the longest possible time once the attack is in progress. This is obviously to throw the responding forces off-track and ensure a high level of chaos that adds to their first-mover advantage. People who do not understand terrorist modus operandi must shut up and not reveal their ignorance for all to see.

    Even if Karkare was on the hitlist of “Hindu terrorists” as the usual suspects are fond of parroting nowadays, how could these forces have reacted with the degree of speed and precision that makes everything look like the Pakistani terrorists did it? Did the RSS have terrorists ready and loaded and waiting in Mumbai for just such an attack to materialize? Or did the old dog Sudarshan respond at the speed of light to outfit terrorists with AK-47s, munitions and directions necessary to get them on the ground for the killing minutes after getting the information presumably through the TV?

    All this is entirely untenable unless you also suggest that the killers of Karkare were actually hand-in-glove with the Pakistani terrorists themselves. Or are you suggesting there were no Pakistani terrorists and it was all an in-house job by the RSS to malign Pakistan, kill Karkare and also enough Hindu Indians to provoke an outrage against Muslims and hopefully a riot or two?

    If this is what is being arrived at, I’d put such people at the level of zaid Hamid and other canine conspiracy-mongers of his ilk. Not worth further comment.

    It goes to show just how much some Muslims have lost the plot here when they applaud the rabid communalist Antulay question the events leading to the deaths of brave police officers. The Congress is no friends of the Hindus and would happily malign a few Hindutva types to corner Muslim votes (using something like the Malegaon blasts probe for example). But even this farcically secular party can only go so far to hide the truth from the public. Muslim terrorists go on a rampage killing hundreds and an old fool comes up with is a bizarre conspiracy theory that is idiotic as much as it is repulsive.

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  6. Antulay has shown the courage to say what “simple minded” Indians hesitate to utter even after being socially/culturally/politcally terrorised by hinduism/hindutva. one can’t predict the way global terrorism operates. who knows abt RSS/VHP links to it? but can we reject it? NO. As their hindutva mission can take any form- we have seen its genocidal mission in Gujarat, Orissa, the way it operates to marginalise Dalit/Adivasi/Bahujans in urban/rural milieu are quite evident. The military, media, academia– all fall for its terror missions. Antulay has given a wake up call against THIS terror.
    it is time for us to wake up 4m the ‘patriotic sleep’ and think/act …

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  7. Sudha, it is pointless trying to find rationale in these theories. Where is the question of Pakistani terrorists when according to the theory of RH, the whole episode is the handiwork of Hindu terrorists? No use trying to counter such rantings.

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  8. I think it is about time we please stop using ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ prefixes for terrorism and get out of this popular understanding because by pitting one against/with the other, we’ll keep falling into a trap of communalizing the vocabulary of terror. Also, such prefixes make it easy for communalist and nationalist ideologues to take sides. If we keep focusing on ‘networks of terror’, which are increasingly seeming to have shadowy and multiple bases, and where larger games of national and international politics are being played out, we might be able to give the readers a more complex and disturbing picture by keeping the easy dichotomies away.

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  9. Debarshi, you do have a point. It is unfortunate that terrorism has assumed religious tags. But can we close our eyes to the reality that much of the terrorism being perpetrated today is in the name of religion? That the mainstream in the respective religions has nothing to do with such acts is another thing. It is inescapable that terrorism gets branded after the “cause” the terrorists espouse. Therefore, those in Sri Lanka are called “Tamil terrorists”; those doing it in the name of Islam are called “Islamic terrorist” and so on. The “damn-India, damn-Hindus” slacktivists raise a hue and cry that using the term “Islamic terrorists” is a conspiracy in the media to vilify Islam. But this argument got completely debunked when, post-Malegaon, the term “Hindu terrorists” began gaining currency. However much one may like to live in self-denial, it is a fact that the pan-Islamic terror movement across the globe is the single biggest threat to peace and security today. An overwhelming majority of the Muslims are peace-loving and have nothing to do with this jehadi movement. However, this would continue to be tagged with Islam, whether we like it or not.

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  10. “Even if Kasab and Ismail had been shown photographs of Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte before they embarked on their trip, how could they possibly have identified the police officers in a dark alley in the dead of night according to Kasab’s first story?

    Yeah, how could they? In a dark alley, you cannot seea nything, not even the headlights of a police van!

    According to later his confession, a police officer got out of the vehicle and started firing first, injuring him; how, then, did Ismail manage to kill the rest by himself?”
    WIth the kithcen knife he was carrying of course, not the AK47.

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  11. this exercise of tagging is the problem. and with which the “terrorism” being constructed culturally..
    one cannot be blind to the amount of money spent by america to aid Bin Laden et al.(or in that case by various state players…take the case of Srilanka)
    the business of global terrorism cannot be tagged to any particular religion/community even if one polemically does in order to serve one’s vested intersts and run the business of demonising the Other. The ‘master narratives’ of such acts would always be tagged whther we like it or not.. but should be condemned as “terrorism” cannot be tackled it or by the mere ‘terror laws’, ‘military operations’, ‘state violence/terror’ (as pointed by aditya in one post)… the social has to be addressed socially… and the political, with political questions and answers… the rang de basanti anti-politics need not be the solution, rather it s the problem of such societal/political tensions…
    the effort should be to think beyond a tagged mindset.

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  12. Prabhakar, let me begin by agreeing with you that it is impossible to shield the Islamic version/form of terrorism from a thorough as well as specific criticism. But there is a possibility that as we study the roots of the specific history of Islamic terrorism, we might have to confront other dirty truths about how the West has used and misused this kind of terrorism for its own purposes.

    It is indeed interesting to note that countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan are neither rich nor very powerful if compared to the Western countries and even India. How do you think powerful countries become powerful? For example, how was Britain very powerful once and now the US? Do you think it is possible to be a powerful country by being nice and fair or because of other reasons? And once powerful, do you think countries act benevolently vis-a-vis other countries?

    Let me change the track a bit. Would you say the poor in Pakistan would have more similarities with the Pakistani elite or with the Indian poor? Do you think religious and nationalist similarities can erase the fact that the poor suffer in a similar manner in every country? Don’t you think the elite in Pakistan and India – despite their differences – enjoy a similar kind of privileged life? If yes, can we then really look at the human condition ONLY through nationalist and religious paradigms? We obviously can’t, and you might agree so far with me hopefully.

    Now let us go back to the specific issue. There is obviously an Islamic terror threat looming across certain countries. It has to be definitely dealt with in a sensitively sharp manner. We can’t allow this random and sporadic kind of hostage killing. But why I say “sensitively” is because we have to stop it without further aggravating it. If certain people are feeling mad enough to give up their lives for a cause which spreads terror, we have to go into the reasons. Doing so is not to fall into the trap of their self-justifications behind using terror. But it would at least enable us to just go beyond mere anger.

    Your angst seems to be about people not coming out in clear condemnation of Islamic terror and calling it by its name. As if if they do, your angst will end. Because then you will know, people of your country are all united in fighting Islamic terrorism. But will you be as passionately with these very people when they protest against farmers’ suicides, against the Narmada dam, for gay rights, against atrocities against Dalits, against killing of minorities in India? Are you sure you may not have a difference of opinion about these issues from many of them, just as some of them might have a difference of opinion with you on how to look at the larger problem of terrorism?

    Do you think those poor people living in villages, most of whom without the luxury of having televisions, would really bother about the Mumbai attacks so much? Do you think the family of those 1.5 lakh farmers who committed suicide would really care about how many people got killed in the Taj or Oberoi? Do you think these poor people won’t bother about these deaths out of cynicism? Or because of some other, obvious reasons? What can those reasons be?

    Let me end this by creating another divide. We all know, terrorists are deliberately targeting well known cities to have the maximum political (and media) impact. I agree that just as villages and towns, these cities are as “India” as anything else. But surely not ONLY what is India – right? And I just pointed out how there are huge populations in India who may not bother so much about the Mumbai attacks. So when we are talking about coming together, who are the people we are referring to? And those people who are living with other, more acute, daily problems, what if they are not interested in the issue? Can we still claim to represent “India”? Do you think being nationalistic is an obviously exclusive privilege of those who live in cities? If not, then would you agree that whether we agree to come together on the issue of Islamic terrorism or not, we would have to infinitely struggle to ALSO fight together for the rights and the lives of many other people in this country? Don’t you think that is what we owe to the people of this country?

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  13. It is clear from the obscene reactions to Antulay’s comments that Congress does not want to rock the national boat at the moment. It was staggering to see how much unity the response to Antulay created across the entire political spectrum from ‘Muslims for Secular Democracy’ claiming they were ‘horrified’ by his comments (were they more than horrified by the terror attacks themselves? Is there a word for being more than horrified?) to the fascist parties baying for his blood and heaping abuse on him, even as some of them were simultaneously advocating the use of Hindu terror groups as the only response to ‘Islamic’ terrorism!! India’s political culture is shot through with hypocrisy and it has been endlessly depressing to watch the aftermath to the terror strikes. If there was one thing the terrorists wanted, it was surely to create precisely this sort of panic reaction and mindless nationalism. Coming back to Antulay’s remarks, what precisely did he say beyond asking the perfectly sensible question – why was Hemant Karkare sent to Cama Hospital when there was a much bigger operation going on at the Taj and the other five-star hotels? No one has produced any answer to that as yet! Moreover, we are given to believe that there is a ‘report’ in existence on the events of the 26th and days following, and that this ‘report’ settles the matter raised by Antulay’s queries. Indeed, if that is the case, why have the Indian public not seen the draft of this report? Why is there so little transparency about what happened? Why do the authorities prefer to ‘share’ information with the media in bits and pieces, fuelling speculation and contradicting their own earlier versions, rather than coming out, in a public and transparent way, with a single, integrated and definitive version that can be called ‘official’? R.H.’s piece shows exactly why we need a thorough investigation by an agency that is not implicated in the events of 26-29 November, possibly Chidambaram’s NIA. Unless such an impartial investigation is made and its results communicated transparently, the ghastly terror strikes and the tragic death of Karkare and his colleagues will soon become our JFK. And that of course is what the fascist elements in Indian society want. They want to perpetuate a culture of political impunity where they can maim and kill ad lib, with no punishment or even arrests ever following. If the terrorists have their agenda of destroying democracy on the subcontinent, they couldn’t have better collaborators than the Sangh parivar and its political allies in India. And wasn’t that precisely what Karkare’s investigations were beginning to show?

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  14. This shocking, almost terrifying article reappeared in Tehelka magazine recently and I thus recently came across this discussion on this site. I was relieved that I wasn’t the only sceptic who could not be convinced by the “official” version. As a Mumbai resident I am as confused as anyone else, but unable to just simply forget either. I think it also reflects poorly on the mainstream media that it can forget so quickly. Sometime in January there was an article in the Hindustan Times here in which Karkare’s widow mentioned that it took the police 45 minutes to come to the aid of Karkare, salaskar and Kamte, and that during that 45 minutes at least 2 police vehicles with sirens on directly passed the victims. I don’t believe this has been mentioned in the article and it is another strange element. I have never been one for conspiracy theories but in this objective observation would point in that direction.

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