Implications Of A Fateful Day
On the evening of November 26, 2008, I was having a drink in my hostel room when I got a call from a journalist friend telling me there had been a bomb blast at Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station. It soon became clear the megacity Mumbai was under attack. The Taj Mahal Palace and Trident-Oberoi hotels and a Jewish centre had been occupied by gunmen. A backpacker bar–Leopold Cafe—had been sprayed with bullets. I spent that night and much of the following three days glued to the television set in our hostel’s common room, trying to grasp what was happening. It was one of the most intricately planned terrorist attacks of recent years, which took India to the brink of war with Pakistan, and has become known as India’s 26/11. The attack had a significant impact on counter-terrorism strategies around the world, with security services put on high alert to the risk of ‘Mumbai-style’ incursions on soft targets. A 59-hour siege ended with the shooting dead of the last terrorists holed up in Nariman House Jewish centre, the country was united in shock and grief. Ten young men had sailed from Pakistan armed with AK-47 assault rifles and carrying backpacks full of ammunition and attacked the city’s landmark sites with apparent ease, eventually killing 166 people, including 22 foreigners.
While the attacks were on, people across the world were anxiously scanning every possible source to get the slightest of information into the reasons for them —why the city of Mumbai was attacked; who were behind the attacks; and why had India failed to face, if not prevent, the attacks? These three questions, simple as they sound, tested the collaborative wisdom of the world in general and India in particular. The search for answers became tougher and murkier in the subsequent days. Critical questions remain unanswered on the events of the cold- blooded and devastating terror attacks in Mumbai on that fateful day. Fragile Frontiers: The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks, offers a lucid and graphic account of the ill-fated day and traces the changing dynamics of terror in South Asia.
Using new insights, this book explores South Asia’s regional dynamics of antagonism, the ever- present challenge to the frontiers of India, Pakistan and the terrorism question, the strife in Afghanistan and the self- serving selective US ‘ war on terror’. Investigative and introspective, this book will be an engaging read for those interested in defence, security and strategic studies, politics, international relations, peace and conflict studies, and South Asian studies as well as the general reader.
By Nilabh Krishna