Friday, February 13, 2009

LOCAL SUPPORT MUMBAI 26/11: INVESTIGATION STINKS

Within days of Narendra Modi raising the question about local support for the Pakistani terrorists who carried out the attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008, and just as Pakistan was responding to the dossier sent by India to it, Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor sprang a surprise on the nation by admitting to the media that local support was indeed given to them.

This is what Gafoor said: "Fourteen to sixteen men, which includes Indians and Pakistanis, are wanted in the attacks". That is not all. "We have included names of these men in the dossier which has been sent to Pakistan", he added, revealing that "Two Indians have already been arrested while some are absconding about whom we have informed to Pakistan. So there are Indians as well as Pakistanis". About their role in the attack, Gafoor said that those wanted had conducted 'recce', given financial and logistical support and "they belonged to North India". Asked why names of Indians have been mentioned in the dossier, Gafoor said they likely escaped from India, and "we suspect that they might be hiding in Pakistan".

Within hours of that statement came the retraction. The list of those fourteen to sixteen "wanted" men was inexplicably modified by Gafoor to include the nine terrorists who were killed and Ajmal Kasab who is already in custody! The remaining six, he said, were Pakistanis, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander and suspected 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, who have perhaps never visited Mumbai. There were no Indians in the list any more. There was no mention of local support either. If Gafoor's complete turnaround is to be believed, there were only two Indians, Fahim Ansar and Sahabuddin, who were involved in the attacks and both had been arrested quite some time back by the police and are still in custody.

Just yesterday I had written in detail about various significant facts that had come to light immediately after the attack indicating strong local support and which had not been followed up at all. I had also questioned as to how it was possible that, based on Ajmal Kasab's confession, India had got all details about the Pakistan end of the operation but nothing about what Kasab and his associates did in Mumbai. I had also wondered whether it was possible that his investigators had not even asked him at least the following questions:
  • How and when did he and other members of his gang get Indian credit and identity cards? Who helped them get these documents?
  • Since they were to sink the boat they used to land in Mumbai, where were they to go to and whose assistance were they to get after completing their mission and escaping? How long were they to stay in India and where before going back to Pakistan?
  • How and when did they familiarise themselves so thoroughly with the hotel layout?
  • How many times did he and/or other members of his group visit Mumbai earlier to carry out reconnaissance? Where did they stay then and for how long?
  • Who pre-placed ammunition and explosives in the Taj?
Gafoor's initial admission yesterday about the local support that the Pakistani terrorists got was significant not only because it finally came after more than two and half months but also because he revealed that it was not Indians citizens but Pakistan which had first been informed by the government about it and that all those who had given local support had safely reached/been allowed to escape to Pakistan. That was damning in itself and pointed to the incompetence, even complicity, of very powerful people in the political and administrative establishment in allowing the guilty to get away.

If that was not bad enough, his subsequent complete retraction within hours, manifestly at the behest of his political masters in New Delhi, shows that something is seriously wrong somewhere and that the police and the government are hiding something very significant from the nation.

Ever since the attack on 26/11, scarcely a day has passed without there being a lot of noise made by the government about Pakistan's involvement in the attack, keeping of all options open, diplomatic efforts being made to bring the Pakistani masterminds of the attack to book etc. This has been accompanied by an eerie and unquestioned silence about the involvement of local actors in the attack. Till Modi asked, nobody in the media even thought of it.

It may be recalled that when the Mumbai ATS had uncovered the conspiracy behind the Malegaon blasts, the media was being fed leaks on an almost daily basis about the involvement of Hindu terrorists in other terror attacks too. There was saturated media coverage and the din created nationally then is almost at par with what is being witnessed through the 'pink chaddi campaign' that has been launched by a few politically connected rootless Indians, in response to the attack on a few girls in a pub in Mangalore by some Hindu hooligans.

Seen in this light, the complete silence all round about the involvement of Indians in the worst ever terror attack on India, followed by the disgraceful spectacle that the nation witnessed yesterday suggests that a very deliberate attempt is being made to con the country and shield all Indians who were directly and indirectly involved in the attack. It is entirely possible that the involvement of some of them may not be limited to this one attack only.

A few may well be having very powerful links in the top echelons of the UPA and any exposure about the extent of this nexus between them may prove to be disastrous in the forthcoming elections. There is a widespread feeling that all evidence of local support has already been systematically erased and that the operatives who were physically involved have already been sent to that impenetrable sanctuary of terrorists and criminals that calls itself a country.

What happened yesterday shows that there is a real stink here which the Central and State governments want to keep a firm lid on. Mumbai police is their willing accomplice and is hiding a lot more than what it has revealed about India's 9/11. One wonders whether and how much of blood money has been received by those who, some say, are merrily continuing to play with the lives of ordinary Indian citizens.

UPDATE

Any guesses about what Barkha Dutt has to say about what the Mumbai Police Commissioner has revealed? This is how she dismisses it in a column in the Hindustan Times today: "There was much media to-do after Bombay's (note, not Mumbai's) top cop said, rather matter-of-factly that the terror attacks did have some local links...Yes, perhaps he spoke out of turn and contradited the government's positon. To that end, the need to talk is clearly embedded in the subcontinent's DNA...So when Bombay's police chief made the point about local arrests he possibly goofed up in how he articulated it. But we need not spend much more defensive energy on it." (italics mine).

So, as per Ms Dutt, Gafoor's clear admission, made after almost 11 weeks of silence, only to be retracted a few hours later, is because of his DNA-driven need to talk. And the initial admission was only a goof up in articulation. Read again what he said to the media. Can you spot lack of articulation or any congenital problem?

Should what he said be dismissed and forgotten as Ms Dutt, who sounds more like a Congress party spokesman than a journalist, has and wants us to? Or should the nation be even more concerned that a powerful section of the media is little more than the mouthpiece of a government that really does have something sordid to hide?
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Readers may also read:
1. Mumbai 26/11: Local support and vote bank politics
2. Valentine's Day: It's chaddi vs langot!
3. India's Osama and Al Qaida found: Banish them!
4. Hindu terror at last. Thank God!