The latest terror attacks in Mumbai, three serial blasts to be precise, have claimed 21 innocent victims while seriously injuring 200 people.
The attacks come at a time when the world has gained renewed hopes of fewer terrorist activities after the killing of Osama bin Laden. Far from it! Soon after Osama’s death, Pakistan has witnessed a few terror attacks, and the latest Mumbai blasts show that the war on terror is alive.
In the midst of usual condemnation by global leaders, and Indian leaders’ assurances to bring the culprits to justice, there’s a bleak feeling among Indian citizens that this is their fate, and they have no choice but to get used to it.
The 25-million strong Indian Diaspora feels fortunate to be living away from the country that’s just short of a civil war in many of its states. But the feeling of helplessness towards their family and friends left behind soon takes over.
After all, the Indian migrants moved to far-away destinations not just for a prosperous but also for a safer future.
The threat of terrorism is as much real in India as it is in the US, the UK or Australia. And people of Mumbai are not new to the blast experiences, which feeds the apathy towards terrorism by the state government.
The city that survived 13 serial blasts in 1993 was preparing for worse years ahead. In 2006, bombs planted in Mumbai’s local trains killed 200 travellers at various locations. While the memories of those blasts were still fresh, a group of armed men entered Mumbai by sea in 2008 and took a large number of Indians and foreigners hostage at two elite hotels. With this history of bloodshed, Wednesday’s blasts appear pale in comparison.
However, on the backdrop of stronger global political stance against terrorism, these attacks almost seem to defy the international resolve to counter terrorism.
Unfortunately a country can’t choose its neighbours, and India lives among civil-war-torn states like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, while China keeps India awake on the borders every night with its frequent infiltration.
The global opinion in unanimous about Pakistan’s role in not just harbouring but also training and funding terrorists. Despite global pressure, Pakistan hasn’t cooperated with India in arresting the masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, especially the Lashkar-e-Taiba men. LeT has been responsible for all the blasts since 1993, either directly or through its affiliate groups.
Succumbing to international pressure, Pakistan arrested key suspects of many Mumbai blasts, including the LeT chief, but the trial hasn’t achieved much yet.
Following the US military action in Pakistan that killed Osama, there was a growing opinion in India that the government should follow a similar pursuit to arrest the key suspects of Mumbai terror attacks. Pakistan was quick to warn India of dire consequences if India even thought of doing such a thing.
While major cities in India have been put on high alert, there’s growing fear about a potential, bigger attack, and unease about the country’s inability to curb the growing militancy in its neighbourhood.
Political environment has worsened. It was only last year that Mumbai’s neighbouring city, Pune, witnessed a blast at a bakery patronized by foreigners, which killed 17 people. David Headley, who conducted reconnaissance for the Pune blasts was also linked to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
However, Headley’s statements have worsened the chances of any improvement of ties between the US and Pakistan, and India and Pakistan.
Pakistan has remained in denial of any involvement in terror attacks and has been very quick in condemning the Wednesday blasts. Indian authorities have vowed to arrest the terrorists. The resilient people of Mumbai are probably planning a candle-lit vigil for the victims, while the city follows its British legacy of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On!
The author is managing editor of The Global Indian magazine.