Mumbai After Terrorist Attacks

As Mumbai recovers from the recent terrorist attacks, social worker Katia Savchuk reflects on how cities can be resilient to terrorism.

"Civilizations find their most visible expression in cities, and iconic sites come to serve as symbols that define collective identity. Desecrating iconic sites like Mumbai's Taj Hotel is a way to destroy much more than lives or historic structures -- it is a way to attack the heart of the city and nation....Threatened or actual attacks on every mode of transportation – airplanes and airports, trains and railway stations, buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws -- seek to paralyze is through reclamation of city space that people affirms their resilience in the face of terror."

Full Story: My Mumbai



Mumbai Terror attacks

November 2008 Terrorist attack on Mumbai:

What should be a nation’s response to terrorists attack like the one on 26th November in Mumbai, India.?

Many claim that an aggressive response would play into the hands of the masterminds of the terror probably indicating an aversion to a ‘tit for tat’ reaction , though such a response may become necessary to ascertain and declare a nation’s resolve to uphold its sovereignty and independence. If the attacks were clearly meant to be a provocation, should Indians not allow themselves to be “provoked” even after a cosmopolitan area, home to19 million people and also the financial and entertainment capital of India was shaken?

One would agree that ‘barricades and bunkers’ are a theatrical response that achieves little except causing inconvenience to the citizen.. But this theatrical response (like road barriers, sandbags with machine gun totting commandoes etc) can help to instill a sense of security (even if false) and being “under protection” to the common citizens. Is it not as important?

No amount of security precautions and what may be called “theatrical responses” can resolve the problem because a terrorist is a “dedicated’ and fanatical individual who knows that he will not live through his suicidal mission. The only possible remedy is to have a very strong and intensive intelligence net work. to fore warn an impending strike .

We have to take into consideration the geo-political realities in the subcontinent. Despite its subdivision in to two nations of Pakistan & India in 1947, the former has never accepted the realities, not being able to overcome the hangover of the Mughal empire that ruled India before the British. With that hangover, Pakistan, since 1947, has waged 5 wars with India, of its own making and lost all of them most ignominiously! Despite its religious fanaticism it has the sense to appreciate that a nuclear war with India may destroy part of India but will physically annihilate Pakistan completely. So, what could be an option?

When studied in this perspective we should realize that what happened in Mumbai in November ’08 was not a random terrorist attack by a terrorist group (as is the case in many European countries like Germany, Spain, etc.) but a “Trial Run” of a state sponsored undeclared war ! If, just 10 well trained commandoes can hold a city of 19 million in terror all it needs is a few hundred to devastate the whole of urban India! If a few well trained commandoes in the garb of ‘Terrorists’ can achieve its objective, why should Pakistan wage a formal war and antagonize the whole world?

Such a terror war instills a fear psychosis amongst the urban populace, shakes their confidence in its elected government and creates doubts about the entire system of democracy and democratic governance! That is the objective of such attacks by a terror state like Pakistan. Having successfully tested its new “Terrorists Weapon” that did not elicit any reaction except verbose appeals for peace, India can expect similar attacks on all its cities from Pakistan trained Commandoes in the garb of terrorists.

We need to realize and understand these geopolitical realities in the Indian subcontinent
which are unique and quite different from any where in the world except those that exist between Israel and its neighbors.

Prakash M Apte

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