Sense Of Déjà Vu Grips City, Terror A Given In Mumbai
Terror returns once again to rock the commercial capital. It’s time Mumbai got ready to look back in anger. The city that never sleeps seems a little dazed as terror acquainted with the city returned and ripped the city apart. Yet another date, after 26/11, marked the history of Mumbai with gore, it reads as 13/7 this time Black Wednesday. Three bombs went off in quick succession, first bomb tore apart Mumbai’s 150-year-old Zaveri Bazaar, killing five people instantly and injuring a dozen. Another bomb allegedly planted in a tiffin box exploded at Prasad Chambers, Opera House, a market which usually remains abuzz with diamond traders, this killed nine right on the spot. And the last exploded at Hanuman Mandir at Dadar’s Kabutarkhana. Around two dozen were killed and 135 were injured in this gory episode
The blast sends the chills down the denizens’ spine, not just Mumbai but the whole nation feels frozen with fear. Maharashtra CM’s statement startled everyone, “terror groups are active and can strike only when they want”. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram came down to Mumbai with a local MP Milind Deora and said: “Every city of India is a sitting duck to an attack by terrorists.” This is not all, even Mumbai Police Chief Arup Patnaik indicated that some terror elements and the underworld dons triggered the blast. It shows that they need to study the system well before fortifying it otherwise they may miserably fail to blunt their attack.
Though, no militant outfit has claimed the responsibility of the attack yet Indian Mujahideen (IM), an offshoot of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), is alleged to be behind this blood bath. Safdar Nagori from MP, a man behind this organisation, is believed to have orchestrated these serial blasts in association with the Bhatkal brothers, Riyaz and Iqbal.
Mumbaikers, the victims of faith, by and large have got used to living in a state of panic but they always want an answer to such carnage. Such monstrous strikes will raise their ugly heads in times to come if they are not crushed in their wombs. Administration and the police must pull up their socks and work in tandem with effective co-ordination between them. The gaping chinks need to be filled, if not now then there seems no other appropriate moment that staunches the festering wounds.
In these 18 years since 1993, Mumbai has experienced several attacks at close quarters in as many as 45 places and among all of them Zaveri Bazaar and Ghatkopar have been attacked many a time.
Swinging into action after any holocaust has been a common feature of security agencies, high alert in the country is par for the course after every tragedy of this nature and magnitude. Mumbai police have constituted 12 teams to probe this case, Crime Branch under the supervision of Jt. CP Himanshu Rai, and the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) being led by Rakesh Maria, they are delving deeply into this case. But then the faith in the police machinery seems to be going up in smoke, looking back on the 2002 Mumbai Central case, a MCOCA judge is yet to be appointed; in the 2002 Ghatkopar case, all eight accused got acquittal; in the 2003 Zaveri Bazaar and Gateway of India blast cases, a POTA court sentenced LeT operatives to death but appeals in this very regard are pending in the Bombay High Court, the July 2006 train blasts case, the MCOCA court trial was stalled by the accused twice before it finally got under way through an apex court order last year. It seems that the government is going to meet its waterloo if it keeps its head buried in the sand.
But as of now, the investigation is focusing on analytical inputs, information, e-mails rather cyber movements and data, more specifically, the call details within hours before and after the blasts. Through a source in MHA calls it a handiwork of the Indian Mujahideen. However, the investigation is under way and the police claim to nail the culprit soon as they are also examining other angles pertaining to the blast than just zeroing in on one particular terror outfit. In addition, the police do not rule out the possibility of a fIdayeen attack, a suicide bomber.
Despite the fact that the police are taking the case, like ever before, on a war footing but it does not hold water as the Mumbai nagri feels choked with fright that has been posing a terrible threat to Mumbaikers for long, the shadow lines are getting even darker and the fear haunting the city rather too constantly is chillingly frightening one and all. Mumbaiwallahs want to know why the police took half-an hour to reach the spot, Zaveri Bazaar though the jewellery market has three police pickets. They want to know why the police had no prior warning of such an attack. They also want to know what the top brass were doing sitting in Mumbai PHQ.
Where is the answer to those unwept tears, answers to not providing security to the wounds still raw, muffled cries of those who had to fossick around the piles of corpses for mutilated pieces blown up in the explosion so that they could put all of them in one to cremate? Mere meets and press briefing cannot poultice the oozing wound. The system that has long suffered a short term memory lapse must cure its malady of going into oblivion before the situation that seems even graver slips through their fingers. No blame game! Where does the buck stop? Questions galore are still awaiting an answer.
By Syed Wazid Ali