Friday, November 28, 2008

INDIA UNDER ATTACK: TIME TO ACT, NOT TALK

India is under attack. The unprecedented audacity and scale of the terror attack in the heart of India's financial capital has shaken almost the whole world. For nearly two days, beginning the evening of November 26, 2008, terrorists have held nothing less than the whole country to ransom, by taking over Mumbai's Taj, Oberoi and Trident hotels, and Nariman House, after wreaking destruction and death at a dozen locations in the city. Never before have terrorists mounted such a tenacious and exceptionally well coordinated assault with so much of lethal fire power anywhere in the world. And it's not over yet.

A terror strike of this magnitude and ferocity requires many months of preparation and exceptionally detailed reconnaissance. 26 terrorists carrying bags cannot simply arrive by ship and boat from Pakistan and proceed to execute with almost surgical precision what they have without knowing exactly where and when they are going to do to what is required to successfully complete their mission.

A bag recovered by Naval commandos shows that these these terrorists were carrying lots of rounds of AK47 rifles, taped magazines, hand and stun grenades, knives and almonds, suggesting that they had planned to fight for a long time. Significantly, besides these combat items they also had cash and credit cards of various Indian banks, obviously acquired on the basis of false identification documents on earlier visits to India. The fact that that were carrying them indicates they had planned for a successful get away after completing their dance of death.

Ratan Tata had said yesterday itself that the terrorists who were in the Taj hotel knew their way around the hotel. That fact was confirmed today by the team leader of the Naval commandos who were the first to enter the hotel yesterday, only to confront determined and well trained fighters who had complete knowledge about the layout of the hotel. Without that kind of information about each floor and room and wall in detail, they could not have moved swiftly from one location to another in these large buildings and held out for so long against the commandos who were forced to rush into these buildings without even knowing what was behind the next turn.

The kind of detailed information that these terrorists had about all three hotels could simply not have been obtained by them without the active assistance of not one or two, but a number of reasonably well placed members of the staff of these hotels, who not only facilitated their previous entries on reconnaissance but actively conducted them around every nook and corner of the hotel till they knew the layout by heart. That is why, even 48 hours later no one knows how many terrorists are still holding out in Taj hotel and where.

It also needs to be noted that the terrorists still holding out have not yet run out of ammunition and explosives, after fighting hard for so long and after killing so many people. This only suggests that in a perfectly coordinated operation, some hotel employees had unsuspectingly smuggled in much more of the stuff than the terrorists carried in their bags, and placed them at multiple locations precisely marked during previous reconnaissance missions, before the terrorists came in from the sea. The recovery of 8 kgs of RDX from behind Taj hotel and 10 kgs from in front of it indicates that there were many others involved in this attack too.

The most disturbing fact is that no one got even a whiff that such an attack was being planned even though hundreds of individuals based in Mumbai would have been involved in planning this complex operation over many months before it was executed.

Is it a surprise that this attack has taken place? Will not even more daring and destructive attacks take place in future? Every one who is someone knows that there is only one answer to that question, but no one wants to do anything about it. Why? Because every political party wants to do or not do something solely to increase its vote bank and better its chances of getting to power. Worse, India's petty, uneducated and politically biased anchors have destroyed any possibility of developing a proper national response because they know nothing better than making politicians fight like idiots, and can see nothing beyond beating competition.

Why has there been no attack on the US after 9/11? Every one knows that the most powerful nation in the world swiftly put in place tough anti-terror mechanisms in place. Americans, used to almost unfettered freedom, willingly accepted the restrictions placed on them for the sake of the nation. But is it because of the Department of Homeland security and the Patriot Act that the Al Qaida has not attacked America again?

Every defensive, protective wall, no matter how strong, can be breached by a determined enemy. An enemy can be defeated only by determined offensive action that takes the fight to his side of the court. So, after 9/11, the US simply did not put up such a wall and sit back with a false sense of security. It went after the Al Qaida in its base in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden and his handlers in Pakistan have no doubt about what they will face should the US be attacked again. Is there any doubt about what Laden would have done by now had the US not gone after him in Afghanistan?

India has been facing Pakistan sponsored terrorism for two decades. That country has blatantly been giving offensive and aggressive shape to is unconcealed congenital objective of bleeding India to death by inflicting on it a thousand cuts. What has this country done to counter it? Nothing except sending to death thousands of its soldiers and innocent civilians, without making Pakistan or its agents of terror pay any price whatsoever.

Till day before yesterday, terror had touched only 'second' India, a country that is quite different from the India of its elite. Till day before yesterday, untouched by terror, they could comfortably discuss it academically and with a dishonest air of objectivity. Day before yesterday, terrorists hit them hard in places they thought were beyond the reach of 'second Indians' and terrorists. Day before yesterday, terrorists also hit politicians who were expecting to be rewarded by them for conning their own country men into believing that Islamic terrorism was a myth and that the only and real danger that India faced was from one motorcycle blast carried out by Hindu terrorists. Day before yesterday Pakistan's soldiers in Mumbai did their best to remind all of them with unprecedented violence that all of India is their enemy and all of it is under attack.

It is war, no less, and we know you can't fight; that was the taunt they gave to this nation of a billion plus people on November 26, 2008.

India is under attack. We have spoken enough and done nothing. Now is not the time for politicians to get into TV studios and allow mindless anchors to provoke them into petty political fights that ensure that all the action ends there itself. Now is the time for them to act. Without talking, much less talking at each other.

Now is the time for us to stand up and tell those who have shed blood for us that we are worthy of their blood. Now is the time for Indians of all religions and regions to unite and rise and defeat the enemy decisively.
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Readers may also read:
1. Forgotten 'non-Hindu' terror hits Mumbai again
2. India's Osama and Al Qaida found. Banish them!
3. Hindu terror at last: thank God!
4. Islamic terrorism: Muslims in India like Jews in Nazi Germany?
5. Tackling Islamic terrorism: what India needs to understand
6. Pakistan: dangers of the multi-ethnic Islamic state
7. Terror and national security: the failure of intelligence.