On 26th November 2008, Mumbai witnessed a glimpse of proxy-war that extended to around 60 hours, and one that left the city crippled.
The terror attack was operated by one of the many militant groups. The face of terror in this instance was projected in the form of young armed men that targeted the economic capital of India, Mumbai.
This attack was an attempt to crumple India’s image of a prospering nation. The fidayeen tactics were planned to target foreign investors, tourists and thus jolt the Indian economy directly.
Mumbai Under Siege
The militants infiltrated Mumbai using boats through the ‘wide-open’ seacoast escaping vigilance of coast guards and security agencies. This was clearly not the first time that terrorists harbored the oceans to sneak in. In spite of warnings from the intelligence agencies, no political leadership was responsive to this threat.
Such a catastrophe has befallen Mumbai many a time in the past but the terror attack on 26/11 was one of the deadliest and also radically distinctive from the earlier ones. The terrorists resorted to indiscriminate firing on people on the streets and people were being taken hostage in five-star hotels.
The modus operandi this time was not of ‘hit and run’ but to inflict maximum casualties on innocents. The Mumbai terror attack was a very well-coordinated blow. The attack struck at 10 places in Mumbai including major landmarks like luxury hotels, a restaurant, hospitals and busy train stations.
What if the number of militants was 50-100? What if the gunmen had ammunition to kill 5000 people or maybe more? Can a possibility of such a planned execution be ruled out in the near future (in India or Internationally)? Has it become so easy to interrupt the security fabric of a metropolitan city?
The chaos created on 26/11 would only have been multifold if the terrorists were in numbers of 50 or maybe 100 with ammunition like RDX, grenades and assault rifles. It would have been impossible to surmount the attack then. The bravery of National Security Guard (NSG) commandos, the police officers and firemen is definitely commendable.
It’s noteworthy that operation Cyclone was successfully implemented in huge heritage structures (Taj Hotel) without access to blueprints, which made the combat even more difficult. The militants knew the topography of the buildings, yet NSG advanced through obscure corridors towards uncertain outcomes in an attempt to release hostages and nab the militants.
Coping with the Global Impact of Terror
Be it Mumbai’s 26/11, or the US 9/11 – terror attacks should be tackled by addressing its root cause. Powerful intelligence networks, disaster management, taking proactive steps in security scenario and stringent laws against terrorist, are the far-famed measures always suggested to fight terrorism.
However, a closer look into the whys and hows of the terror attacks all over the world will shed light on the broader picture. In this (or) (any) case, the young gunmen involved in the attack displayed unparalleled religious zeal in accomplishing the task of wreaking havoc on innocent people. They are the ones who fought honestly for the wrong reasons and were blindfolded by ideologies of their so-called preachers.
The very ideology that the militants cling to needs to be studied, checked, analyzed, corrected or destroyed – whatever it takes! So instead of targeting (only) the perpetrators, the primary postulators who brainwash and misguide people should also be punished severely. They are the ones who misinterpret the religious scriptures and impart false ideologies to create a distorted mindset amongst the youth. Radical fundamentalism, extremist ideology, fanaticism or militant mindset whatever you call it …these are different expressions of a common mythos.
In an attempt to curb the global war on terror one has to first figure out these radical views, understand and then eliminate them. Anything less would definitely be suicidal. Until that happens, the world will remain a silent spectator eventually to be shocked – time and again!