In the coordinated bombing attack carried out yesterday in Mumbai,
India’s most populous city and financial center. At least 183 people were
killed and 400 injured when eight bombs exploded, in quick succession, on or
near seven commuter trains traveling along the Western Railway during the Tuesday
evening rush hour.
The bombs were timed and placed to inflict maximum loss of life. They blew
apart railway cars packed with passengers, sending blood and body parts in all
directions. The huge number of head and chest wounds indicate, police investigators
said, that many of the bombs were placed in overhead luggage compartments. The
death toll is expected to rise, as rescue efforts are still underway and many
of the injured are in critical condition.
As of early Wednesday morning , no group had claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s
terrorist attack. But the media are reporting that unnamed high-level government
sources have said that the bombings were “clearly” the work of Lashkar-e-Taiba
(The Army of the Pure), an Islamicist terrorist organization that is opposed
to the majority-Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir remaining part of the Indian
Union. The bombings, according to these sources, were aimed at provoking communal
strife within India, in the belief that a Hindu backlash against India’s
Muslim minority would rebound to the benefit of the anti-Indian insurgency in
Kashmir and undermine peace negotiations between India and Pakistan.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Islamicist terrorist groups opposed to Indian
control over Kashmir have repeatedly staged attacks on civilians and perpetrated
Earlier Tuesday, eight people were killed and more than 35 injured in Srinagar,
the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, in three grenade attacks that targeted
But if Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was the author of the coordinated bombings in
Mumbai, it would represent a new level of technical sophistication.
A spokesman for the organization has denied it had anything to do with yesterday’s
terrorist attacks in either Srinagar or Mumbai. According to the Hindu, LeT
representative Dr. Abdullah, condemned both attacks as “inhuman and barbaric”
in a telephone call to several media organizations in Srinagar. “Blaming
the LeT for such inhuman acts is an attempt by the Indian security agencies
to defame the freedom struggle in Jammu and Kashmir,” claimed Ghaznavi.
By their very nature, terrorist acts make it impossible to determine
where terrorist conspiracy ends and the machinations of intelligence agencies,
security forces and right-wing provocateurs begin.
India’s security forces have sought to crush the insurgency in Kashmir
and separatist agitations in other parts of the country through ruthless repression.
Torture, murder, infiltration and provocation, and campaigns aimed at uncovering
“terrorists” through mass detentions are routine.
It cannot be excluded that yesterday’s atrocity in Mumbai was
organized or facilitated by agents provocateurs working for one of India’s
intelligence agencies or that elements within the security forces allowed the
terrorist attack to take place, with the aim of panicking the public into accepting
increased repressive powers for the state. It is also possible that the Mumbai
bombings were the work of Hindu supremacist fanatics bent on stoking up anti-Muslim
Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil has said authorities were warned that an
attack was coming, but the “place and time was not known.”
In December 2001, India’s government, then led by the Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP), seized on a terrorist attack on India’s parliament, blamed
on the LeT, to push through a draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and
to threaten war on long-time arch-rival Pakistan, which it accused of supporting
the LeT. In an attempt to force Pakistan into making major concessions, India’s
government kept a million troops in battle formation near the Pakistan border
for almost a year.
The United Progressive Alliance, which replaced the BJP-led National Democratic
Alliance, as India’s government following the May 2004 elections, repealed
POTA, but many of its anti-democratic provisions were included in the legislation
that it introduced in its stead.
In contrast to the reaction of the BJP government in December 2001, the Congress
Party-led UP government has—at least thus far—leveled no accusations
of Pakistani involvement in either the Mumbai or Srinagar terror attacks. Islamabad,
for its part, was quick to denounce the Mumbai bombings.
The Shiv Sena—the BJP ally and fellow proponent of Hindu supremacy that
control Mumbai’s municipal government and forms the official opposition
in the state of Maharashtra—responded to yesterday’s terrorist atrocity
by demanding that the Congress Party-Nationalist Congress Party state government
resign, since it had failed to ensure the safety of the citizenry.
Shiv Sena party boss Bal Thackeray sought to blame the bomb blasts on the Congress’
pursuit of better relations with Pakistan. “The Centre is busy operating
bus services to Pakistan and Islamabad, on its part, is busy pushing terrorists
into India,” Thackeray told the Times of India. “I wish to warn
Congress that people’s patience is wearing very thin. If the terrorists
are not dealt with firmly, there will be an explosion of discontent against
Congress governments not only at the Centre, but in the states as well.”
For months, the BJP has been accusing the Congress Party-led UPA government
of being “soft” on terrorism and agitating for the government to
restore POTA in its entirety.
Once again Indian Muslims find themselves nervous about what the coming days
will bring. Will it be like Varanasi and Delhi, after which the whole nation
rejected the politics of hate and showed to the world that India is about pluralism,
or will it be like post-Godhra genocide which caused shame to every Indian.
No group has taken the responsibility of these terror attacks, and it is too
soon to find out through investigation who the culprits are; but once again,
the right wing parties are trying to take political advantage of this and will
try to blame the Muslims. Any terrorist attack on the general public is bound
to hit all Indians without making a distinction based on religion.
The Responses of the Indian Muslims to this attack against the common Indians
are full of anger and shock. All Indian Muslim organizations issuing statements
condemned this act as the most heinous and a crime against humanity.
The Bush administration, as would be expected, seized on the events
in Mumbai to try to promote its “war on terror”—the pretext
it has invoked in seeking to establish, through military conquest, strategic
dominance in the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asian regions and in mounting
sweeping attacks on democratic rights at home. “We will stand with India
on the war on terror,” declared Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
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