The Assault on Mumbai- India’s Leaders Need to Look Closer to Home

India’s Leaders Need to Look Closer to Home

The Assault on Mumbai


The terrorist assault on Mumbai’s five-star hotels was well planned, but did not require a great deal of logistic intelligence: all the targets were soft. The aim was to create mayhem by shining the spotlight on India and its problems and in that the terrorists were successful. The identity of the black-hooded group remains a mystery.

The Deccan Mujahedeen, which claimed the outrage in an e-mail press release, is certainly a new name probably chosen for this single act. But speculation is rife. A senior Indian naval officer has claimed that the attackers (who arrived in a ship, the M V Alpha) were linked to Somali pirates, implying that this was a revenge attack for the Indian Navy’s successful if bloody action against pirates in the Arabian Gulf that led to heavy casualties some weeks ago.

The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has insisted that the terrorists were based outside the country. The Indian media has echoed this line of argument with Pakistan (via the Lashkar-e-Taiba) and al-Qaeda listed as the usual suspects.

But this is a meditated edifice of official India’s political imagination. Its function is to deny that the terrorists could be a homegrown variety, a product of the radicalization of young Indian Muslims who have finally given up on the indigenous political system. To accept this view would imply that the country’s political physicians need to heal themselves.

Al Qaeda, as the CIA recently made clear, is a group on the decline. It has never come close to repeating anything vaguely resembling the hits of 9/11.

Its principal leader Osama bin Laden may well be dead (he certainly did not make his trademark video intervention in this year’s Presidential election in the United States) and his deputy has fallen back on threats and bravado.

What of Pakistan? The country’s military is heavily involved in actions on its Northwest frontier where the spillage from the Afghan war has destabilized the region. The politicians currently in power are making repeated overtures to India. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, not usually shy of claiming its hits, has strongly denied any involvement with the Mumbai attacks.

Why should it be such a surprise if the perpetrators are themselves Indian Muslims? Its hardly a secret that there has been much anger within the poorest sections of the Muslim community against the systematic discrimination and acts of violence carried out against them of which the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in shining Gujarat was only the most blatant and the most investigated episode, supported by the Chief Minister of the State and the local state apparatuses.

Add to this the continuing sore of Kashmir which has for decades been treated as a colony by Indian troops with random arrests, torture and rape of Kashmiris an everyday occurrence. Conditions have been much worse than in Tibet, but have aroused little sympathy in the West where the defense of human rights is heavily instrumentalised.

Indian intelligence outfits are well aware of all this and they should not encourage the fantasies of their political leaders. Its best to come out and accept that there are severe problems inside the country. A billion Indians: 80 percent Hindus and 14 percent Muslims. A very large minority that cannot be ethnically cleansed without provoking a wider conflict.

None of this justifies terrorism, but it should, at the very least, force India’s rulers to direct their gaze on their own country and the conditions that prevail. Economic disparities are profound. The absurd notion that the trickle-down effects of global capitalism would solve most problems can now be seen for what it always was: a fig leaf to conceal new modes of exploitation.

Tariq Ali’s latest book, ‘The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power’ is published by Scribner.

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2 thoughts on “The Assault on Mumbai- India’s Leaders Need to Look Closer to Home”

  1. true… not sure who said this, but it still rings true: I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.

  2. Tariq Ali has very nearly come close to explaining the reality of the cause of these recent events in Mumbai. The one way to make a story short is listen to the recorded conversation between Imran the young terrorist and a journalist. During the conversation the young man clearly expresses his disgust and frustration at the plight of the Musims living in India compared to the rathr affluent life of most Hindus.

    He says ‘We are tired at this deliberate neglect and injustice towards our society’. When asked why kill innocent people he replies with a rage: what happened to all your sympathy when innocent kashmiris are being tormented by Indian soldiers in Kashmir so much so that we are forcerd to give up our education and join in this freedom struggle;What happened to your sympathy when 30000 Muslims were killed in the most merciless manner by being burnt alive and brutally murdering them. Did you take any action to help them?’ When told that Nariman house was surrounded by commandos and that soon all terrorists wuld be killed Imran said :’Better to live and die like a lion than live a life without meaning ‘.

    Now this shows a clear frustration on the part of this terrorist group who are obviously voicing their concern of Indian govt’s indifference towards the Muslims of India.

    Hatred towards the jews was also revealed in the conversation.’What is the chief of the Israeli army staff doing in India ‘he asked. The journalist had no answer.

    Judging from this conversation we can understand that this entire action was a scathing act of revenge for all the atrocities being committed by the Indian army and police in Kashmir,revenge for the brutal tragic genocide of innocent Muslims in Godhra, Gujarat, bombing of afghanistan by British and US troops on a non stop scale and also bombing of Pakistan villages killing scores of innocent civilians mostly women. This is why the young men wanted to kill the British and the Americans tourists.
    When Americans and British bomb and kill thousands of innocent civilians using cluster bombs, mini atomic weapons,cluster bombs and even phosphorous bombs as done in Fallujah ,Iraq is it not terrorism?

    So before the Indians and the rest of the world begin to condemn this act of terrorism they should also look at the broader picture first. They should balance their arguments.
    True the killing of innocent civilians was not necessary in Mumbai. But then the killing of 1.3 million Iraqis mostly women and children was also not necessary. The destruction of the entire country by the US also was not necessary.
    Likewise the bombing of Afghanistan killing some 50000 innocent civilians mostly women old men and children was not necesary. It is still being done. Does the world care abcout it? As if this is not enough they are ‘hunting for Bin Laden’ by bombing innocent villages in Pakistan killing scores of poor villagers everyday . This is a killing spree of Muslims by the United States and Britain who fought a proxy war for israel in Iraq in order to give Israel full power in the Middle East as Iraq’s Saddam was supporting the poor Palestinian people in their struggle. So Saddam had to be stopped. The US obliged and is continuing to oblige by taking the war into Pakistan. How many more civilians in Muslim lands must die before justice is done?
    So why express shock and horror at the killings in Mumbai when you dont do so for the victims in Iraq,Afghanistan and Pakistan not to speak of 60-year terror in Israel occupied Palestine?
    Hate begets hate. There is no fire without a spark.

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