Mumbai City of Fear - How to safe our world from Terrorism? Your City is Safe? - C.Venkat Narayanan

They were the lucky ones, however: by the time police and Mumbai's anti-terrorist units arrived and the gunmen calmly wandered down towards Chowpatty Beach, ...
India: Terror attacks continue in Mumbai

Terror strike devastating: Sharmila Tagore

Attacks Trigger Flight To Safety?

12/2/2008 08:11:51

THE first indication that Wednesday November 26 was the start of a four-day terrorist outrage that would be India's equivalent of 7/7 came at the ramshackle docks that are the pulsing heart of Mumbai, the country's commercial engine. The jumbled collection of wharves, piers and warehouses are just a few hundred yards from the city's gleaming financial centre, but a world away.
It was almost nine o'clock and, in the half-light, fisherman Prasan Dhanur was preparing his nets for another hard night of trawling in his 13-foot boat, as he did at this time each evening. His routine barely ever changed, yet on Wednesday he saw soADVERTISEMENTmething he instinctively knew was out of the ordinary.

A black inflatable lifeboat equipped with a shiny new Yamaha outboard motor threaded its way among the small, wooden fishing boats at anchor and pulled up to the slum's concrete pier. Ten men, all apparently in their early twenties, jumped out. They stripped off orange windbreakers to reveal T-shirts and blue jeans. Then they began hoisting large, heavy backpacks out of the boat and on to their shoulders, each taking care to claim the pack assigned to him. Dhanur flipped his boat light toward the men, and Kashinath Patil, a 72-year-old harbour official on duty nearby, asked the men what they were doing. "I said: 'Where are you going? What's in your bags?'" Patil recalled. "They said: 'We don't want any attention. Don't bother us.'"

Thus began a crucial phase of one of the deadliest terrorist assaults in Indian history, one that seemed from the start to be coordinated meticulously to cause maximum fear and chaos, and which would leave almost 200 people dead, including an estimated 18 foreigners. The details are still fragmentary, with Indian officials saying little publicly and whisking away any witnesses to the attacks, but from snatched interviews with survivors it has become clear that the men on the boat were joining a larger terrorist force which included attackers who had embedded themselves in Mumbai days before the attacks. Much is not known, with estimates of their strength varying from 20 to 40, but what is clear is that the military precision of their synchronised assaults suggests a high level of training and preparation.

Dhanur and Patil were later to tell police that they had not seen the guns hidden in the backpacks, which is why they did not call the police as they watched the 10 men casually walk into town, leaving their boat and windbreakers at the dock. Not long afterward, fanning out across south Mumbai, as other attackers spread out after landing in other boats, the men began unleashing deadly assaults everywhere they went.

By the time the attack had ended the insurgents had unleashed a torrent of violence at 13 different sites, including two hospitals, a cinema, council offices and the state bank. Although it is impossible to downplay assaults by gunmen wielding AK47s and lobbing grenades, those were relative sideshows compared to the massive firepower unleashed at their five main targets, each chosen for its unmistakable symbolic value.

Collectively the Oberoi and Taj Mahal Palace hotels and the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus, the old Victoria terminus, are what Mumbai-born Booker-prize-winning author Aravind Adiga calls "the central civic institutions that define the city". Those two hotels have an importance in the life of Mumbai that has no obvious parallels for us: these are places where marriages happen, where people of all economic backgrounds go for a coffee; they're the city's commercial and cultural hub. Chhatrapati Shivaji is the gateway to the city, a place used by ordinary workers, with hundreds of thousands passing through each day. It would be difficult to imagine three targets that are richer with symbolic significance for the people of Mumbai.

Nor are the remaining two main targets short of symbolism. For militant Muslim terrorists intent on wreaking destruction and garnering headlines, the Jewish centre in the five-storey Nariman House, just three blocks down a narrow lane from the pier where Dhanur had first seen the gunmen land, was an unmissable opportunity. If the Leopold Café, a relaxed hangout popular with Westerners and wealthy Indians and famous for sidewalk dining, was a less obvious objective, then the message sent by the devastation of this softest of targets is no less clear.

As the centre of India's burgeoning financial sector and with its proximity to Pakistan, Mumbai has been targeted by Muslim militants on several occasions. Yet when the firing started, few could conceive that a full-scale terrorist onslaught had begun. The range of assumptions people made about the noises and clamour are vast: many thought it was firecrackers, others a gang-fight, some even believed it was birthday celebrations. Many ran towards the noises, only to turn tail moments later as the true horror dawned on

12/18/2008 15:42:05

Fellow Weebly User,

Acting in a straightforward manner, I have learned, is a humane policy. As such, I felt like you would appreciate the delights The Galley has to offer. So I chose to contact you with this message. I hope you do not find this disrespectful. In the event that you do, please accept my apologies and disregard the following message.

This is an invitation to The Galley of Chef M Mots ( Kindly indulge in its debut presentation entitled The Broccoli + Samboussa Selections. Please vote or leave honest feedback/criticisms at The Galley's Guestbook located at The entire presentation is now available as a free download. Unless you subscribe to the e-mailing list of The Galley, you can be rest assured that you will not receive comments such as this again.

Thank you for your time and all the best with your endeavors.

The Galley of Chef M Mots.

[PS: I do remember hearing about the attacks. Now sure what to say. The world, in its daily affairs, is surely complex. May peace be with the victims, the survivors and the attackers.]

4/10/2009 04:41:13


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