Friday, November 28, 2008

Mumbai Mayhem

Mumbai Mayhem

The mindless killings that started late Wednesday night in Mumbai are still going on.  Current indications are that the perpetuators came in speed boats, spread out and unleashed what the press is calling as the worst terrorist incident in India. 

While the news coming out is conflicting and sketchy, one thing is clear, the perpetuators are professional killers.  They seem to be highly motivated, trained and heavily armed.  It must have taken several months and good local knowledge to pull off this kind of an operation.  What else would explain the attack on a non-descript Jewish house?  They ought to have known about this Jewish congregation place and chose it deliberately to make international headlines.  So are their other targets as well, all high profile and all in South Mumbai close to the Sea. 

While our heart goes out to the families who lost their near and dear ones, I am also afraid that it will be business as usual in a few days.  Fourth estate will pen eloquently about the so called Mumbai resiliency, Politicians and bureaucrats would move on to next controversy or calamity.  It is the innocent Indians who will suffer time and time again. 

Are we Ready?

I believe, we as country are very bad in crisis management.  We haven’t learnt any lesson despite of going thru the highest number of crisis since independence.  Be it the 1989 kidnap of Rubia Sayeed or the 1999 hijack of IC 814, Indians seem to freeze when they need to act and act fast.  India has been repeatedly attacked by local and external terrorists on a regular basis because these guys know that India is a soft state and will forget and move on trumpeting their resiliency. 

But compare this to the aftermath of 9/11 in US.  Americans collectively resolved never to let another terrorist incident happen again and have so far succeeded in it.  One might not agree with all that President Bush did, but you must give it to him for keeping his citizens safe inside the country. (It is another story that Americans are dying in foreign soil due the ill conceived policies of the same President Bush).

While, no one can promise to prevent all future terrorist incidents, India can and must do a lot more on how they respond to situations like this.  There must an immediate mobilization of all necessary assets within a span of minutes not hours to immobilize the perpetuators and minimize loss of life.

India Must Stop and take action

I wish India doesn’t move on as usual this time around, but make the Mumbai incident a national priority.  While on one side it must methodically and ruthlessly go after the killers and their supporters, it must also shore up its emergency response big time.  This must be done apolitical way on a priority basis such way that it sends a clear message to the evil doers. 

As usual, fingers are being pointed at Pakistan and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it is going to ‘cost’ the perpetuators.  I hope he truly means it this time.