Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Dance of the Demons

The debris and the dead bodies from the carnage and mayhem unleashed on Mumbai for 60 hours from the night of 26th November 2008 may have been cleared. But the damage to a nation’s pride left behind by the Dance of the Demons cannot be undone.

Just a handful of men, ten by official count, armed to the teeth set sail from a neighboring country, landed on the shores of the country in Mumbai in a rubber dinghy, slipped in to the city with incredible ease and began, with equal ease, their spree of death and destruction as the entire country watched incredulously and shell-shocked in utter disbelief. They let loose their bloody carnage at five carefully chosen locations. These were: Cafe Leopold a restaurant existing since over a hundred years and popular with tourists, Hotels Taj Mahal and Oberoi Trident, CST, one of the main rail terminii within the city and a private building, Nariman House. They also planted at least eight bombs, two of them in taxis which exploded. They were obviously helped in their task also by elements within the country in different ways, and particularly in selecting the specific target locations, one of which, Nariman House housing Jews was so obscure that even most residents of the area would not have been aware of its existence and significance. The entire world watched how easily a country, whose leaders would make its people believe that the country would be a Super Power, could be shamed and humiliated.

Reams have been written and hundreds of hours of telecast have shown the details of the operation that followed where the city and the nation were held to ransom for a full 60 hours. In the end, the valiant efforts of the brave-heart security forces including the police and the National Security Guards, the naval commandos and para military forces as well as the fire brigade succeeded, as they ought to have, to bring an end to the sickening event. The ten men’s bloody carnage left 183 dead and 310 wounded, amongst them many foreigners. Twenty men from the police and the National Security Guards laid their lives. Of the ten terrorists, one man was shot dead and one captured by the police away from the main scene as those two tried to escape to nowhere. The remaining eight were killed by the National Security Guards.

Not in their wildest fears could the citizens of the country imagine that such an attack on the soil of the country could take place not by any regular armed forces but by less than a dozen men - no more than mere foot soldiers. The nation feels utterly humiliated and its pride is badly bruised and scarred indelibly. The bitter resentment, anger and frustration of the people at their own vulnerability and the intolerable callousness of the Government have been finding expression beginning with a spontaneous rally of a hundred thousand citizens protesting in Mumbai.

And who should be held accountable for the inexcusable failure to secure the lives and safety of the helpless and vulnerable people? Looking to events of the recent past, there is absolutely no doubt that the prime and paramount responsibility for the situation that emboldened the terrorists and made their task to carry out the attack not too difficult, lies on the political establishment at the Centre and the State.

Although, in principle, the entire Central Government should bear the responsibility it is clear to all that the two political parties that should bear the brunt are Congress and NCP. As far as the Congress party is concerned, it is Sonia Gandhi who must own full moral responsibility for the mess. It is she who not only hand-picked Shivraj Patil at the Centre and Vilasrao Patil in Maharashtra State, but also continued with these recognized incompetent men, lending them her full support till the end when their continuance became totally untenable. The second more important reason is that the entire approach of the Congress Party and policy of the Government towards terror and dealing with the problem must flow from the ‘guidance and advice’ received from the Congress President. This has already been brought out clearly in earlier articles (here and here and here). The Home Ministry, in particular, is the domain and responsibility of the Congress Party in the coalition scheme. It is unthinkable that the Prime Minister and the Home Minister would pursue any policy line that was not dictated or blessed by their Party Chief. The soft or almost non-existent, unstated policy on terrorism followed by the Government could not have been adopted unless authored or approved by her. Likewise, Sharad Pawar of the NCP must also bear the moral responsibility for the consequences due to absence of a firm policy or action plan on terror in Maharashtra where the Home Ministry which was found totally wanting is in the NCP domain and was headed by R.R. Patil all along. Besides, Pawar also being an important Union Minister could at least have tried to influence the Centre’s policy line, being a partner in Maharashtra and having a background of the terror related events in the State.

The Puppeteer
chi è responsabile?

The Shield - Nursing the Headaches

The Puppets

The Auxiliary Support

In spite of this position, did these two worthies even whisper the possibility of accepting their responsibility? Did they show even a twinge of conscience? They did not. Instead, they cleverly pushed the blame on their orderlies. As far as the Congress is concerned, the Prime Minister was left defending the indefensible. Pawar went further and in his best tradition distanced himself and tried to shift the entire blame on the Congress by innuendo and oblique criticism.

The attack that in a way struck at the very root of the sovereignty of the country should have led these "leaders" and the Ministers concerned to hang their heads in shame. Yet, days after the event, these utterly shameless, callous and insensate persons were unrepentant, refusing to own responsibility and to be held accountable. The earlier articles on the subject bear careful reading as it would show how uncannily the history repeats every time there is a terrorist attack with the Government responses being entirely predictable, including blaming others for its own failure to deal with the problem on our own soil. (see here and here)

The impenitent political leadership once more started making empty noises, the intelligence agencies began blaming each other and the harum-scarum bureaucracy just remained impassive and unmoved. If anything, men like the Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta might have been elated that there was one more experience to learn from – going by his immature and imbecile comments last time when Delhi was attacked by terror. (see here)

When and only when the public pressure became too much, were the pawns in the game - the Home Minister of India, the Home Minister of Maharashtra and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra reluctantly pushed out. A day before he was forced to quit, Vilasrao, the brash Maharashtra CM, in a show of crass sauciness even took a movie producer with him on an “inspection tour” of one of the locations where the terrorists had created the maximum havoc. Incidentally, it is worthwhile referring to the following almost prophetic picture which was published in an earlier article in July 2008 (here). The suggestion intended in the picture was that the country had become a tourism destination for Terrorists. Vilasrao’s inspection tour, which has since been described as “Terror Tourism” has provided a strange twist and a somewhat different meaning to the picture.

Apart from a deliberately hazy policy, lack of comprehension of the gravity of the threat facing the country on the part of the Government and sheer incompetence of the Home Minister who did absolutely nothing visible while saying ‘It is not as if nothing has been done’ an environment existed (and may still exist) which could encourage the perpetrators of the attack. The shillyshallying bureaucracy at the Centre and the State obviously did not contribute anything towards improving the situation.

The intelligence and security failure
As details unravel, it is becoming clear that the success of the attack was due in no small measure to the failure of the intelligence and security agencies and the bureaucrats to do the jobs they are supposed to do. The absence of policy, effective direction and control from their political masters coupled with bureaucratic negligence obviously resulted in this state of affairs.

Amidst the usual cries about absence of actionable intelligence, information has filtered out to suggest that a considerable amount of intelligence, some of it even from foreign agencies, was made available to the agencies much before the attack took place. Even if the intelligence may not be “actionable” in the eyes of these agencies, certainly they would be expected to develop the same further and anticipate what might happen. The Terrorist threat is dynamic and demands preparedness and building threat scenarios all the time based on bits and pieces of intelligence available from any reliable source. It is certainly not just a question of waiting for actionable intelligence to fall into the laps. The task of the security agencies and the Ministries concerned is to visualize and build threat scenarios from valid intelligence and data and take appropriate steps. Intelligence programmes typically have several components viz. core systems, tasking, collection, processing and dissemination systems. It is how efficiently the entire architecture is put in place and executed that determines how effective the agencies are. There is no use insisting on intelligence that is complete and specific in every respect.

Actions that followed
Once the stupefied and indolent Government realized the full gravity of the situation and the implications – real as well as symbolic – on the credibility of the entire country and of the Government caught napping, it finally came out of its stupor and tried to galvanize itself into some action.

Its main actions are now directed towards putting pressure on Pakistan to stop its territory being used for terrorist activities directed towards India. This is an appropriate action under the circumstances. Even the USA sent Secretary of State Condolezza Rice to show solidarity with India. It, is however, also possible that the USA was quite alarmed at India’s vulnerability to such attacks, which was badly exposed. Being unsure of the Government’s response and handling, USA probably also wanted to discourage the Government of the day from taking unanticipated hasty actions that might disturb the situation in the region.

While the Government has taken a stern position against Pakistan, quite rightly so, it has also asked Pakistan once again to hand over certain persons wanted by India and living in Pakistan, including the notorious Dawood Ibrahim. Knowing the consistent belligerence of Pakistan with India on such issues, it is unlikely that this demand can yield anything. If the Government itself does not have the will or the ability to do anything to put out the assets and organization of people like Dawood within our own borders, it can hardly be expected of a not too friendly neighbor to deliver on a platter what India has demanded. Any actions that might follow either from our own Government or from other friendly countries to pressurize Pakistan into dismantling the terror apparatus on its soil and the like, may help in the long term but will not help us in the near future. And other than diplomatic actions of the kind that are already being pursued, there are no other hard options that may be exercised as the consequences could be quite unpredictable, particularly as the situation in Pakistan is far from stable with that country practically struggling to maintain its identity.

The main option before the Government is now to focus its attention on improving the situation within, from the ground up. The Ministers at the top have been sent packing. The Home Ministry still has a candidate who could be removed as a Minister of State whose role and usefulness appears to be limited to making controversial statements and criticizing the Opposition. Amongst the bureaucrats, by a stroke of good timing, some of them have already left the scene after the event. It may be time to take decisions on the National Security Advisor, the Home Secretary and the ever-so-controversial RAW chief. At the State level too, the new Chief Minister can be expected to let some heads amongst the bureaucracy and the police roll.

Other than that, the Government is talking of bits and pieces of actions to strengthen the security apparatus etc. but no comprehensive approach is visible even now. On the question of a special law to deal with terrorism, the Government so far has been cussedly opposed to it for reasons that are hard to fathom. Even now, its position on this subject remains ambivalent. It would still like to persist in considering terrorists as ordinary criminals and terrorism as a mere variant of organized crime at best! Such is the bankruptcy of thought in the Government and the political parties that are part of the Government. It is also now again talking of a federal agency for investigating terrorist related crimes. This is not something that can yield immediate results. Even now, the Government does not seem to have any stated policy on dealing with terrorism. The few disparate actions proposed are not what will remove the feeling of utter insecurity in the minds of the people.

The Governments both at the Centre as well as the States need to take actions that will lead to a visible change in perception that they cannot secure the life and safety of the people and so have lost the right to govern. What is needed is at once to instill fear in the minds of would-be terrorists and confidence in the minds of the people that the Government is in control.

Sadly, the situation is such that the people do not feel confident that the Government knows what it has to do or that it has the will or capability of doing it. The Government and the so-called leaders have proved themselves to be a disgrace to the country. The people can only hope that the end of the 60 hour Dance of the Demons does not turn out to be just an intermission, with more to follow.

Related articles:

Next see Living in the Shadow of insecurity - April 9, 2010


At December 13, 2008, Blogger Suresh Chandra Gupta said...

एक अच्छा विस्तृत लेख लिखा है आपने. यह मेरी और मेरे जैसे अनेक भारतीयों की भावनाओं को दर्शाता है. धन्यवाद और वधाई.

सरकार की और से प्रधानमंत्री ने माफ़ी मांगी है. कांग्रेस और एनसीपी के मालिकों, सोनिया और पवार को भी माफ़ी मांगनी चाहिए. मेरे विचार में, सारे राजनीतिबाजों, बाबुओं और असावधान सुरक्षा एजेंसिओं को भी माफ़ी मांगनी चाहिए. यह वादा भी करना चाहिए कि अब ऐसा नहीं होने दिया जायेगा.

At December 14, 2008, Blogger Lokadhikar said...

श्री सुरेशचंद्र गुप्ताजी
आपकी शुभेच्छा के लिये आपका आभारी हूँ.

अपने आपको नेता कहलवानेवाले यह लोग, जो ईन परिस्थितियोंके लिये असलमें जिम्मेवार हैं ऊन लोगोंसे जो आप चाहते हैं वैसा किये जानेकी कोई उम्मीद नहीं है. और यह देशका और देशकी जनताका बड़ा दुर्भाग्य है. अब जनताको ही पूरी तरहसे जागृत होना होगा, यह एक ही रास्ता है.


At December 14, 2008, Blogger Ajay Mehta said...

Good analysis. But just blaming these Politicians will not be suffice. Its we who haVE ELECTED them and now we must determine what kid of people we need to elect.

The entire political spectrum is empty where there is no leader who could evoke some confidence as to they will get justice. The feeling of those who laid their lives at Parliament attack, who have refused to take the help or gift from the India Govt. till Afzal Guru is not hanged.

Keep writing

At December 14, 2008, Blogger Gopalakrishnan said...

nice analysis. If we took the stand of entire politicians-blaming, then again it would prove the Congress to rule us becuase the uneducated lot still believes Congress as the savior of our country and they are conditioned to be like this by Cognress. The educated lot diverting their anger on political clan ignores BJP (who is an answer to Congress as of now) and indirectly this will help congress who in the name of selective secularism will spoil our country. It is high time BJP showed solidarity in their leadership and went on thsi plank without overkilling it. People of India have to wake up

At December 14, 2008, Blogger The Wise Man From Hell said...

It is a tough ask - transiting from being the eighth wonder of the world - what else would you call a country of a billion idiots, myself most definitely included, who elect rogues and nincompoops like the current lot of politicians from across the spectrum, and then wail about how these people are not doing anything for us... but we must try to make the transition, otherwise we will end up being a bunch of frustrated idiots...

What is required is a change at the grass roots level as well as a change at the organizational level... the machinery as well as the mindset needs to change...

more in my blog -

At December 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the ruling party have proved they cannot rise above petty politics, people with common sense have to get together and push the national agenda with priority for national security, national interest, national pride, economic growth and justice. National security cannot be ensured by being soft - yes, the leadership may talk softly but only iron will to be prepared for every eventuality can allow softness in public discourse. And when it comes to the crunch national interest has to override other spurious considerations. Today if the police do they are damned and if don;t also they are damned - this weakness is being consciously promoted by the enemies of the nation.

At December 15, 2008, Blogger keepcool said...

many of the writers above have said to the effect that instead of blaming the political leadership etc. people should blame themselves.

That may be ture in the larger contxet but the point is that the people who were already elected are supposed to protect the life and liberty of the people.THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE and we should not divert people's attention by saying that people themselvs are to blame. If leadership is not behaving properly, to show anger and blame them is also part of democracy. We cannot simply wait for five years to make a silent change through ballot box.

The other point about electing the right people is right in theory but what happens with the so called enlightened people??

The morons in Delhi once again elected Congress just after a few months when the capital of the country itself was attacked!!

So if educated people take such a casual approach, how can we expect the masses to make the right decision.

What is our own commitment towrds awakening as many people as possible and create a chain reaction?

At December 15, 2008, Anonymous manisha a. said...

the delhi voters, many of whom thrive on the corrupt system, must be mde to change their casual approach.

At December 15, 2008, Anonymous prakash pawar, nashik said...

that useless pawar is only interested in making money in cricket or politics.

At December 15, 2008, Anonymous Smriti Dhameeja, New Delhi said...

Sonia made a big show by resigining in the early stages when the office of profit issue came up.

Now when she is clearly responsible for the soft line of terror which has brought these attacks, she is not saying a word.

We should stop being soft ourselves and show these politicians their proper place.

At December 15, 2008, Anonymous Kunda Deshmukh said...

now the shameless sharad pawar is trying to embarrass the PM by insisting on fixing accountability on bureaucrats.

thats is fine. but what about his own responsibility? he is always wanting to find scapegoats.

first he should take responsibility too.

such phoney leaders are a shame on the country.

At December 17, 2008, Anonymous lionhartsingh said...

Hello,you have write right things at right time,but vote related politician cant hear cant seen,when thaire son and daughter not herted from those terrerist untill they sleeping and whane thay waikeup than time out no any solution available for thamwe have to fight like Israil no any way if we become unbeaten hindustan than

At December 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

very well written article...but this is well understood by all of us...there is no hope from these what next...the so called common man has to come out from the blame game and start taking onus of settings right on his start with following can be done by the common man: -
- be alert and vigilant, report anything suspicious to police, media, local people etc
- follow rules and regulations of the state...come out of chalta hai attitude
- do not take/give bribe (seems impossible)..why i am saying this takes just a few bucks in india to get any type of photo id card made...this is why terrorists can come in easily
- take part in electoral process... go out and vote and if possible contest elections as independents
- develop civic sense
- take responsibility...dont expect others to take first step
- help the fellow common man
- be informed about the latest developments...know what to do if u encounter a terrorist strike
- help police, security forces

if all of us start doing things right we will not depend on these dirty politicians anymore...
a common man

At December 23, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well written article. When all of Indian media is now in the hands of Congress-Marxist nexus, blogosphere is the only place where we can read and write independently. Keep up the good work.

At December 26, 2008, Anonymous Vijay H Patel said...

It's question of political will to combat with terrorism, but that even after these much, only political verbiage is seen, no satisfactory steps are taken.

At January 17, 2009, Blogger Berita dari gunung said...

An interesting view.

On political stage, it is never easy to balance out what is good for the nation and what is good for one's political stature in order to survive a day longer.

At January 20, 2009, Blogger hari said...

Sonia made a big show by resigining in the early stages when the office of profit issue came up.Now when she is clearly responsible for the soft line of terror which has brought these attacks, she is not saying a word.
We should stop being soft ourselves and show these politicians their proper place.

At January 22, 2009, Blogger amarendar said...

I am aamarender. This is nice article. You are giving good analysis about our durty politicians.


At January 22, 2009, Blogger Lokadhikar said...

to readers

thanks for your kind comments and views.

the only way to make a difference is to be determined not to allow these people, who have betrayed the people's trust, ever to come back to power.
it is also necessary to convince as many others as possible to reject such politicians at every level.

At February 09, 2009, Blogger Rohan said...

Very nice post about indian politics!

At February 17, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Brazilian soap operas(novelas), tv series, used to be seen by millions of people, in several countries. Now, Tv Globo brazilian channel is doing one names "Caminho das Índias" about Indias. The problem is that they are showing to the world an India in the 1950 like it was nowadays.

I am from Portugal, i have a poor english. sorry!

But in that tv show, they are showing that in India big cities:
Schools for the children are not buildings, but outside in a field.
That dalit children can´t go to school, if theu don´t any non-dalit friend that help them.
That hindus rich men are totally prohibited (by their famillies) to marry foreign woman.
That is normal a dalit with a phD and rich be humiliated by people of upper classes.
That is very common a little girl, 6-7 years, marry a little boy, too.

Brazilians and people who see their novelas, are thinkingthat all is true, common in India, even in the big cities.

India is being disrespected by Brazil.

From Portugal

At February 18, 2009, Blogger Lokadhikar said...


Thanks for your comments.

It is a fact that like every one else, film makers also have the freedom of expression and in their films, they will show the world with their eyes.

It does not mean that what is being shown about India is all reality. It also does not mean that what is shown is completely untrue. But it appears that the programmes you refer to are only showing the most negative side and that too with exaggeration.

India is a vast country like Brazil and there are all colors in the Indian rainbow as in any other country. No country, not even the wealthiest nations are free from a negative side.

If you wish, you may send an email to Lokadhikar (address in profile)

At March 07, 2009, Anonymous xanindia said...

Justice should prevail. No one should be spared. These attackers should be jailed for life.

At March 07, 2009, Anonymous Speakbindas said...

Very detailed article. Thanks

At March 24, 2009, Blogger Luckson said...

Better hope for the best for future. good analysis though!

At May 05, 2009, Blogger said...

aapne bahut hi achha likha hai thanks


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