The vanished fizz of the Mumbai Mayhem

It’s been a year since 10 young men without soul though, shook the financial capital of India. But has anything changed yet? Have our politicians who took moral responsibility of the attack and resigned done something concrete for beefing up the security of the nation? Chuck the selfish politicians. Have people realized their duties and taken some materialistic steps to protect the dignity of our motherland? Has the “Fizz” behavior which they showed by thronging roads of Gateway of India in lakhs on December 3, 2008 led to something substantial?

Things have definitely changed in the course of time. There were waves in the political industry after the terrorist attack. Our Home minister then Mr. Shivraj Patil now only enjoys the Rajya Sabha seat unlike before where he was privileged to be our Union home minister too. And lets not forget that he is been considered as one of the candidates for Governor of Punjab’s seat too. Seems a remarkable change, huh? The renowned Deputy Chief minister of Maharashtra then Mr. R R Patil has had a rollercoaster ride. He resigned quoting he had gone by his conscience and hence decided to step down but I wonder what moral grounds made him comment then that “small incidents like this do happen in big cities.” Post 26/11 he enjoyed the cushy party head post of Maharashtra for NCP. That’s the change, where you are debarred of one postion and you get the other. On an astonishing note he has been awarded the Home ministry again after the 2009 elections of Maharashtra. A notable change that he has gone through personally is that his conscience, on grounds of which he resigned, is dead as he has accepted the Home ministry again. The Chief Minister then, Vilasrao Deshmukh, who took famous Bollywood director Ram Gopal Verma along with him to the terrorized location The Trident, so possibly that he could make a movie or probably a mockery out of the shattered lives of many, comfortably holds Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises enjoying a Cabinet Minister status. Is this the real change we are looking for? 200% the answer is NO.

We as citizens of the country expect more safety. We want modernized safety institutions which can protect our country effectively. We want more transparent system where the government is answerable to the public of its every act which probably would enhance accountability of government towards public. We demand more respect for people guarding us i.e the Army at the borders, the Police Force, the NSG, the CRPF, the SRPF, the RPF, the Navy, the Air force. Governments please wake up and provide them with modern equipments to fight terror. Please do not treat our security forces as garbage. Assign them proper accommodation unlike the SRPF jawans who are posted at the Taj and Trident since two months but have only their van where they eat, sleep, change. Will even a single elite minister survive in a van, forget around 20-30 surviving in one like them? Those people consider it their duty to guard and hence are keeping all atrocities faced by them aside. Ministers, please learn a lesson from this that duty comes first and then the self interest. Although the NSG has already landed in the island city but they are facing “N” number of hurdles to set themselves up. Can’t the process be smoothly carried out for the force protecting us risking themselves. Government it’s time you realize “All said Nothing Done” will not work. It’s high time you stop pampering Ajmal Kasab. Nail down the culprits of the nation. Rise to your responsibility.

Although I feel it’s not only government but every individual’s duty too. Rise to the call of your nation. Convert the “Fizz” behavior depicted in the road show of strength to concrete actions. Question the government for injustice then only would the government be compelled to answer. Ensure that you vote to bring the right person to power. Let’s not forget Maj. Unnikrishnan, Gajendra Singh, Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, Tukaram Omble and 10 other policemen who sacrificed their lives in line of duty. Let’s not forget every soldier of nation who has till date always kept their personal lives on back burners against their work. Let’s rise and be one of them. If that’s not possible at least we can make sure they get due respect and recognition for their work. Every individual has the potential to make a difference however small it may be. Let’s collectively make the difference a huge one. Let’s get out of our habit of deafening ourselves at the call of a poor citizen. Let the call of justice be same for the rich and poor.

So folks at the tragic anniversary of Mumbai carnage where around 183 people died and 500 plus injured, let’s take an oath to change the face of nation. Let’s unite and pledge that the shape of our nation will be different at the carnage’s second anniversary. Let’s swear that we will together work to take our very own India to new heights every year, every day and infact every moment.

Swine Flu panic in India!

Last week, I returned from a week long vacation with my family to Mumbai, away from work pressure. Instead of cherishing the memories of a week long break I was quarreling within with “Emotional Flu”. Yes, I was down with fever and did have a travel history but were those symptoms enough to prove I had contacted Swine Flu. For my family they were more than enough to arrive at a conclusion that I had to visit the government hospital for screening.

My mother went a step ahead to buy the masks for family. And yes masks were distributed according to the need as enough N95 were not available for our joint family. My cousin who is four and I get N95’s, the only two masks which she managed to buy in black from the chemist. My pregnant Bhabhi and grand mom get a three layered mask which she managed to buy from other chemist and the rest of the members manage with masks bought at the traffic signal when my mom waited there for lights to turn green. But is my family to be blamed for there over precautious behavior? I believe they reacted in a very normal way considering the hype of “The Swine Flu” that was created by all forms of media. Any parent or in that matter any human would react this way if they see a new “Breaking News” every ten minutes on the news channels.

I wonder why the media doesn’t make 572 deaths a day due to normal flu, and large number of deaths due to Tuberculosis, Malaria, Dengue and other diseases an equally important “Breaking News”. Why doesn’t our Health minister call an urgent meeting to discuss diseases like malaria which takes a huge toll of human lives too? May be malaria patients can wait for some time longer as most of them are neither NRI’s nor they belong to elite group who can afford a vacation abroad. With Swine Flu thoughts occupying my house and slowly spreading to my neighborhood I called up my very good friend and a doctor by profession asking him how would I discriminate whether its “The Swine Flu” or normal flu. He explained to me that the Swine Flu symptoms could be towards pneumonia side and with just fever and normal cold like symptoms I should not conclude that I have contacted it. He told me to wait till two days and take normal medicines prescribed to treat normal flu as going to the hospital at the shot to screen myself would be more dangerous. There were chances I would catch the virus if I wouldn’t have till then. Luckily my phone was on loudspeaker then so my parents got some gyaan too. Two days from the whole panicky episode I have normal body temperature and am all energetically penning my experiences of the false panic we underwent. But this whole episode, taught us to stay composed as fright created was spreading faster than the Flu itself. We did not give in to false media panicky and heard the doctor treating Swine Flu, which I feel proved a boon to us.

I urge the media to give neutral reactions to the issue and not to blow the matter out of proportion as not everybody would be as lucky as I to get a doctor friend nor would every parent wait for two days as my parents did on the doctor’s advice. And for the rest of you Swine flu is not that a dreaded disease and has a death rate of seven in thousands much less compared to Normal flu, Malaria and Tuberculosis. Also the Swine flu deaths recorded so far have not been only because of the H1N1 virus but due to some other complications intermingling too. So just take normal precautions like washing your hands, drinking plenty of water, exercising and you should be away from the virus.

And my dear elected government, there was no point keeping the theatres, schools and colleges shut as this was more of emotional response from your side than on medical grounds. Your decision of shutting of schools did no good to millions of children as they enjoyed days off from school playing in the societies, as my cousin did and the college going crowd enjoyed shopping and hanging out as they had all the time in the world. Did it actually act as the isolation you had thought of? We just need better medical facilities to treat the pandemic and more awareness regarding it. Try spreading the correct word in your families, societies and we shall be better able to fight the H1N1 virus.
Prevention is better but panic is not!

Bandra Worli Sea Link: 21st century symbol of classism

Bandra Worli Sea Link which was inaugurated last week has captured the attention of all the citizens of Mumbai. This mega project is developed by MSRDC (Maharshtra State Road Development Corporation) and HCC. The budget of this bridge shot up 4 times from initial Rs 400 crores for 16 lanes to Rs 1634 crore for 4 lanes. Isn’t something interesting? The opposition parties have already demanded for probe by central agency for corruption in the project.
BWSL is said to be the major project in Mumbai after independence. There are two landmarks in Mumbai now, the gateway of India and Bandra Worli Sea Link. I was enjoying the rains of Mumbai on Saturday at Worli Sea face with my friends. We decided to have a look of BWSL which was 100 m away from sea face. I went there with anxiety but on reaching the sea link, I realized that this link is not meant for the pedestrians and 2-3 wheelers. I was bit surprised and chuckled. The government has made majority of Mumbaikars fool. The one who does not owns a car is not allowed to enter the sea link. Gateway of India was made for Prince and this bridge has been made for rich. This is the vision that government has for aam aadmi!! During British times we had a hoarding “Dogs and Indians not allowed” and now there will be hoarding at sea link “Pedestrians and Bikers not allowed.”
I want to ask government whether they have constructed a bridge or opened a 5 star hotel. A major infrastructure project of which Mumbai is boosting is zilch for ordinary person. This is against the Article 21 of our Constitution which gives me this right to go to any place which is not private. It just shows that we are still held by the evils of classism. This sea link, an Engineering marvel, is the symbol of 21st century classism. Let me tell you that anyone can go and walk on Golden Gate Bridge in California. They have dedicated lane for pedestrians and 2 wheelers. But then this is India. Nawab Malik, cabinet Minister of state in an interview on television said that the pedestrians are not allowed on the bridge because they will commit suicide from it. What a silly reason? Has government done any survey or something on this? We can say this statement as a statement of government unless government disowns his statement. Today I want to ask all of the readers that are the infrastructure developments meant for rich only?
The citizens must join hands and agitate against this discrimination. As a tax payer, I have also contributed to building of this bridge. And even if i have not then also government cannot stop me from walking on to the bridge. The government will have to answer to the citizens about the stupid logic of depriving majority from using the bridge.

Racism in Mumbai!

Last week there has been series in HT on how we treat foreigners and those who might be different from us. Our racism is largely, but not exclusively, based on colour. Caste and ethnicity is the biggest factor in India’s racism. As a student and now as a professional, I have also felt sometime that we have some rooted prejudices. Mumbai, the largest city of India and having population of over 1.5 crores is perhaps very proud of its cosmopolitan culture. We have people from all parts of the country. Forget whether we are racist in treating blacks and whites from foreign countries as it has already been covered by this newspaper. Lets’ talk about racism that we have for our own country men on basis of their ethnic origin.
The identity politics of the state has further fueled this racism and is a dent on image of Mumbai worldwide. Politicians are trying to make each of us realize that we belong to  particular community, speak specific language, have different cultures and this is leading us to feel that we are not  ‘Indian’ first.
Some decades back we had a political propaganda against “Lungis” (South Indians), then Muslims and most recent “the Bhaiyyas”(North Indians especially from UP and Bihar). In our daily talks, I have heard many of us using phrases/slangs like  “Kya Marwari hai” for a person whom we consider miser, “typical Gujju mindset” for the one who is more interested in money,  “Chinkis” for any resident belonging to North Eastern part of the country. Maharshtrians are identified by the word “Ghati.” Though it is meant simply for the people living around Western Ghats but now this term is mostly used in derogatory manner.  Anyone south of the Vindhyas is a Madrasi, and never mind if it includes residents of Karnataka and Kerala. They are ridiculed for their accent. Once during my college, a batch mate asked a friend that if he is South Indian then How come he has “fair skin”?  A dark complexioned guy/gal is always jeered. We had a friend in hostel who was very dark skinned and automatically many of the hostelites started calling him “kalia” or “kallan”.
“The Bhaiyyas” is used as abusive slang. Recently I was in a garment store at Dadar. A customer and shopkeeper had heated argument on price of jacket. They were abusing each other and trying the customer was trying to make shopkeeper realize his “aukat”. Then as he was leaving he said “Bhaiyya hai saala.” I smiled because they both didn’t argue in Hindi Language and yet shopkeeper was “labeled bhaiyya”. :)

Similar sort of racism you will come across if you are caught by a traffic police. If you know the tongue of traffic police you are easily let off else you are in trouble. Yesterday I complained to my flat owner that their was problem with the ceiling of flat. He said sarcastically that this problem was all because of “ghati” living on the above floor.
One more thing which i have noticed in Mumbai is so many organizations entertaining only people belonging to particular caste/community. As long as these groups are for cultural purposes it is very fine but the moment they restrict the group to themselves ONLY, it becomes racist. We have several groups of Marathas, Uttar Bhartiyas, Gujratis, Jains, South Indians, etc. Most of these groups are headed by political leaders and are used in creating and mobilizing vote banks. We have various housing societies which allocate or don’t allocate flats to people belonging to particular community.
We become perfect in whatever we practice. And with my experience I can say that in Mumbai Knowingly/unknowingly we have become racist. We all use racist remarks in everyday life and don’t realize that too. Interestingly we are practicing racism against our own countrymen. Mumbai is known for its cosmopolitan culture. Cosmopolitan means free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments. But within this beautiful city we are creating local boundaries.
The concept of inclusive society is slowly becoming farce in our Mumbai.

26/11 Mumbai Attack: Scam in procuring Bullet Proof Jackets for Police?

The bullet proof jackets procured for Mumbai Police were of low quality.
This allegation has been levied by the opposition and media on Government of Maharshtra post 26/11 attack on the financial capital of India, Mumbai.

A reply given by Mumbai police to an RTI application seeking the information on bullet proof jackets used by Mumbai Police has raised some sort of suspicion. The reply shockingly stated, “Since the file relating to bulletproof jackets cannot be found, the queries cannot be answered.”

CNN IBN claims that sources in Mumbai Police that the file was not lost, but was being protected from public scrutiny to possibly avoid controversial details from coming out in the open. If this is the truth then it is certainly a matter of great concern. The news channel also says that these jackets were sent for testing and they failed. Every single bullet went through the jackets even though the rounds were fired from a distance. The trial was followed by an enquiry into the spurious jackets but the results of which were shrouded in mystery and now as the police has been claiming, lost along with the file. Sources have claimed that the quality of cloth and special wire mesh used in the jackets was inferior and the vital steel plates were usually corroded.

This is yet another case of rampant corruption in political circles. After Bofors and coffin scam this is yet another instance where the politicians have insulted the saviors of the city and nation. This is perhaps the saddest part of the whole issue. It is directly related to the organization which has to ensure that law and order situation is maintained in the city which is always under the threat. If we cannot provide best equipments to our soldiers and police then that is really very pity. The brave officers laid down their life for the people but it saddens me that have they given better jackets many of the officers might have been saved. It seems that the life of a patriotic soldier has no value for the politicos.

CM of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan has his own sets of arguments. But whatever be the case both government and opposition must ensure that truth does comes out. If the opposition is so concerned then they must provide the proofs of their allegation and government who is “so determined” to tackle terror must also not try to cover up the whole issue.

We as a citizen have shown in the recently concluded Parliamentary elections have shown our concern for the city by “coming out in large numbers to vote”. Hopefully we will show greater concern this time and ensure that we get the satisfying reply. The families of slain police officers have already demanded an enquiry on the entire issue. We must also pressurize our politicians to tell the truth. And if allegations found true; stern actions should be taken against the culprits.

But will it actually happen?

It all depends on us. If we are genuinely concerned about our safety and regard soldiers with the highest respect then we must act and act tough!!

Reference: CNNIBN

Chai, sutta, politics & the Marathi Manus

Tired of communal politics & mudslinging in Maharashtra?
Tired of debating endlessly on communal tension in Mumbai?
Have you started religiously hating someone because of him being a localite or vice versa?
Why do you think this is happening?

Around a week back, I was chilling in my balcony, sipping delicious masala chai, enjoying the 3 am breeze, before being rudely interrupted from my ‘half awake’ state by one of my roomies.

“I hate all of this communal bullshit in Mumbai” he proclaimed.

I turned to find P, M & Patty engaged in a rather heated conversation involving Mumbai’s political scenario, complete with facts & figures thrown around, with swearing loud enough to make my rather docile gujju neighbors raise an alarm. Having a sizable number of Maharastrian & ‘non-Maharastrian’ friends, I’d been through this situation so many times! A wave of déjà vu hit me as I sat there silently thinking about all the hate & paranoia encompassing us.

As I sat there listening to P joking about declaring Mumbai as an independent country, my mind raced back in time. It brought back innumerable questions put forth to me by my Marathi friends. I’ve listed down a few which actually seemed justified to me.

  • How does a localite, with a family to feed, compete with low cost laborers from other states?
  • Mumbai is bursting at its seams! We’re at each others faces! What do we do?
  • Why don’t we get as many opportunities?

To make it very very simple, locals are unhappy. Why? Now that is `the` issue we need to address!

I see every minute and not-so-minute issue been taken up and blasted way out of proportion everyday by the media.
I see politicians with magnetic personalities give inflammatory speeches which drive people into a violent frenzy!!
Why glorify or hate people who misuse civil unrest?
Instead, why not address the core issue.

Till date, I have only seen hefty accusations & anger-invoking insults being flayed.

I hope this post does not invoke similar responses here. Rather, I would like to open up this forum so that people can talk about what’s bothering the ‘Marathi Manus’ and probably come up with some useable and feasible solutions for the same.

Muslims in India after the 26/11 attacks

Muslims across the country are a worried lot post 26/11. Whenever there has been a terror strike in the country, Muslims are subject to suspicion and discrimination from the other communities and investigating agencies. Their loyalty to India is doubted. Unfortunately, some elements from both the communities (Hindus and Muslims), along with the dubious political class always ensures that there is continuous rift between the two communities so that may take advantage of it.

The common man is full of anger post-Mumbai attacks and Muslims too are not leaving any stone unturned to condemn the terror attacks. Even the celebration of E’id was scaled down. They want to present their viewpoint that terrorists are enemies not only of humanity, but also of the country, Indian Muslims and Islam. The clerics of the community have also refused to allow the burial of terrorists in any of their graveyard. “The bodies of these inhuman plotters against our motherland must not be buried anywhere on the Indian soil,” they said.

Terrorism in India has affected the Muslims of this country badly. It has provided a more conducive atmosphere for the political parties who survive on divisive ideology and destructive politics. There was a story in ‘Hindustan Times’ where the teacher who was upset with a Muslim girl in a Delhi convent school, called her ‘Pakistani’ in front of the entire class. There was an incident in Jet Airways flight where a passenger heckled a Muslim flight attendant citing her religion. There are various other instances as well. What is coming out of this is that across urban India there is anger and open prejudice against the Muslims.

I have no doubt that majority of Muslims in the country believe in the concept of one nation and are as patriotic as you and I are. I would like to question all those hypocrites who would look upon Muslims with an eye of suspicion but will watch SRK’s latest film or will cheer when Zaheer topples the batting order of opposing teams or will admire APJ Abdul Kalam as an icon or recite the poetry of Javed Akhtar. But this same group will not think twice before raising doubts over fellow countrymen.

Simi Grewal does not know the difference between the Islamic and Pakistani flag and makes absurd comments only to apologise later. But dear Simi, you have already done enough damage. The same is true for the majority population, which is proud of India’s secular fabric but will not think twice before raising suspicion about Muslims.

The problem within our country is that we have never developed a thinking of our own and have always played into the hands of selfish, power-hungry politicians. They have ensured that there is always an atmosphere of animosity between the two communities. BJP and Shiv Sena protest over the use of the word ‘Hindu Terrorism’ but have no qualms in accusing Muslims after every terror activity. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav project themselves as messiahs of Muslims and will see every action in the interest of national unity as a bid to suppress the minority community.

Let’s face the real scenario. We as a citizen of this country are slowly and slowly shedding the concept of national integration. Muslims are made to believe by their top religious and political “messiahs” that they are being targeted in this country while Hindus leaders will attribute each and every problem related to internal security in the country to the Muslims. As a citizen, I want that there should be trust among all communities and we should be internally strong. The investigating agencies should carry the probe without any bias and influence from political authorities. If there is an anti-social element in any community we need to ensure that he is dealt with seriousness and is punished for his crime.

Greater political will is required to strengthen internal security. The issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants must be dealt with seriously. There should be no blame game in an hour of crisis until concrete evidence is available. Muslim clerics should also take the responsibility to protect their community members from any prejudice. Instead of issuing stupid ‘fatwa’ against Sania Mirza or Imrana, they should push for greater reforms within their community. They have the power to convince millions and they should use their reach for the betterment of the community.

On other hand, we should take a lesson from Pakistan that a nation formed on the basis of religion would end as a failed state and even an “international migraine”. The concept of India is based on its diversity and this makes our country special. We must not lose the beauty of our nation to such prejudice and bias. We need to work collectively to make our nation even stronger and that will be the fitting reply to all the anti-India forces.

We have forgotten them and we will forget them again

India has been shaken by the recent terror strike in Mumbai. There are lot of demonstrations and processions going on across the city of Mumbai against the ineptitude of our political leaders. The government of India is also trying its best to dilute the anger of citizens by taking some actions. The citizens of this nation are showering praises on the martyrs. This is not a new thing considering that Indian people have always showed unity in times of crisis, though they have very short memories and forget the sacrifices soon.

The 13th of December was the anniversary of the Parliament attack. How many of us remembered those brave soldiers who ensured that terrorists are stopped at the gate itself and laid down their lives in the process? To show their respect “our responsible MPs” turned to pay tributes and recalled the supreme sacrifice by the security personnel in foiling the attempt of the terrorists. The very next day, there were reports that the family of the martyrs are still struggling to get what was promised to them by our government. The kin of the victims accused the government of not fulfilling the promise of giving them compensation.

Vimla Devi, wife of ASI Nanak Chand, who was killed in the 2001 terrorist attack has said, “We don’t want all these tributes to be paid. I don’t have anything. Nobody listens to us.”

Sardar Singh (62), whose son Om Prakash, a Head Constable died in the attack, said, “We have been pleading with the government officials for so many years. At functions the ministers make tall promises but they forget after that.”

Jaiwati Singh, who lost her husband, Constable Vijendra Singh, is still fighting for her rights. “These days my sister is running from pillar to post to get the promised petrol pump but the officials say they have always had martyrs in the country and they can’t go about giving each one a petrol pump,” her brother Bhram Prakash said. (These are excerpts from a leading daily)

On December 16, we will celebrate Victory Day to commemorate the victory of the 1971 war. But did you know that there are still 54 Indian soldiers incarcerated in Pakistani prisons post the Indo-Pak war of 1971? It is an irony that even after the comprehensive victory, India could not negotiate freedom for her soldiers who were trapped by the enemy in the heat of war. Till this day there families are fighting against all odds but all their requests and pleas have fallen on dear ears. They are even more helpless considering this is an external matter. Today they remain forgotten, mere names in the files lost in the labyrinth of the South Block. It is a collective failure of the entire nation. Forget these incidents, a few days there was a television news where it was shown how one of the parents of the Akshardham temple attack martyrs from the NSG were denied the promise of a petrol pump allocation.

There is no denying the fact that martyrs of wars and those who sacrificed their lives in proxy wars are not being given their due respect. The government over the years has just paid tributes and then isolated the kin of martyrs. As a citizen, we bid goodbye to martyrs saying that we will always remember them but within six weeks everything is forgotten. Families of those brave souls feel alienated after some time. Is this the way our society functions?

The story will be repeated even after this terror strike. Our history is testimony of this. The valour of our martyrs soak in the wetness of our euphoric patriotism and dies soon as everything turns normal.

I bet that hardly anyone of us will remember Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Havildar Gajendra Singh and dozen of other martyrs “who failed to hit the headlines” for some unknown reasons. These names will also be lost in the pages of history.

As a nation, we have always displayed only callous indifference towards these soldiers who have fought to preserve the country’s freedom and integrity. Remember, History shows that only those nations survive who honour their soldiers. And this honour should be part of the mind set. If we forget our soldiers in times of peace then it is a betrayal. There are lurking dangers but we sleep peacefully, because we know that the brave soldier is awake. Do we really understand the value of our independence or are we taking it for granted? Are we as a society doing anything to give back something to the families of those brave soldiers who have died for our future apart from raising a memorial and showing anger towards the politicians?

Unless you sacrifice, you can’t fight terror: Col. R Hariharan

via Rediff

Colonel R Hariharan is a specialist on South Asia military intelligence. He served as the head of intelligence for the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990.

He is associated with the South Asia Analysis Group and the Chennai Centre for China Studies.

Colonel Hariharan spoke to rediff.com‘s Shobha Warrier about what needs to be done to avoid terror attacks like the one in Mumbai terror attacks.

Media reports say that the Indian intelligence agencies had prior information about the Mumbai terror attacks. After every terror attack, we hear reports that intelligence agencies had prior information about it. Where is it going wrong then? Do you call this an intelligence failure?

I have no hesitation in saying that it was intelligence failure that led to the attacks. Today’s terrorists are more tech savvy than the establishment.

Intelligence failure is not only the failure of intelligence agencies. They have to process the information and make an assessment.

There are more than 12 agencies like the Customs, the Enforcement Directorate etc which collect intelligence information, and this excludes the state police.

Firstly, the quality of intelligence collected has to be validated. No agency shares the information with everybody because they want to score brownie points.

What we need is a central control room where intelligence information is shared and immediate action is taken. We don’t have a culture of centralised control rooms. I know the Intelligence Bureau has enough intelligent officers, but they don’t process intelligence information properly because they are in a hurry to push it so that the responsibility does not fall on them.

How important is processing the information?

It is the most important part of intelligence gathering. You may say, a terror strike is coming from the coast. But from where? Which coast? From whom? When? These questions are never answered. In military intelligence, we don’t accept this kind of nonsense.

The Americans failed in processing the information before the 9/11 attacks. We told them a year earlier that Islamic militant guys are being trained in flying. We had told Australia that they are being trained in Australian flying schools. They passed it on to the Americans but nobody took action because they had too much information.

We have to have management in our information systems. Technology is rudimentary in India. We are a lazy nation as far as the governing system is concerned. So, why blame the intelligence agencies alone? You should blame the government, the various departments and ourselves.

Do you think the current attacks will ring alarm bells and something concrete will happen?

I am not an optimist. I expect some more strikes to come. Will just changing the Union home minister solve the problem?

I am not seeing any action now. There will be more strikes. Something like what is happening in Bangkok has to happen in India too. Everything has to be stopped to make the government act. People have to take to the streets. Only that works.

The ordinary people of India feel that after the 9/11 attacks, the US could stop any further attack while in India, every month, there is a terror strike…

Are we prepared to sacrifice some of our fundamental rights? That is the bottom line. The US has sacrificed part of their fundamental rights. US laws are very stringent. We didn’t want POTA which guarantees witness protection.

Where should the overhaul start?

It has to be there everywhere; from the grass-roots to the middle level to the structural level.

Three things are important. At the state level, they must read and process the information themselves. The central agencies and state agencies should share information all the time. Today, they don’t do that. The culture of sharing of information should come. In Assam, I have seen only army guys in the meetings; the state guys won’t even turn up. Some sort of commitment has to come within the states.

Two, the country must learn to sacrifice some rights to fight terror. While fighting terror, you cannot have the same freedom. Unless you sacrifice, you can’t fight terror.

Three, our laws will not hold today’s times. You catch two out of 15 terrorists, but you cannot prosecute them. Human rights fellows will make a noise; courts will give them bail even if they are murderers. That is why so many Maoists are not being prosecuted. So, you require a special law.

The coast of India is controlled by many departments, and do you feel it is high time the coast comes under one agency, say the Coast Guard?

There are 12 agencies involved in the coastal security of India. In this country, nobody will give up power. Port security is under the ministry of shipping! What does it know of security?

In the US, when a ship comes to the sea, it comes under the Coast Guard. It is responsible for the coast. Here, it is not. The land is under police, the coastal police have become a big joke. The policemen do not know how to swim. They don’t have a sea orientation. Why should you have the same policemen doing the coastal job? You require marine police who should look after coastal and port security.

The Coast Guard has got huge deficiencies like the armed forces. They must make up the deficiency right now. Marine security must come under central authority and the Coast Guard is the best arm. It comes under the navy both in the US and here.

Create internal security separately as a ministry. The time has come.

There is a kind of fear and insecurity in the mind of the people of India.

It can happen in Chennai too. Are you sure it will not happen in the other coasts? In Maharashtra, it will change now just like it changed in Gujarat. Gujarat has a dynamic chief minister and he knows his job. He wanted a law which is similar to what Mumbai is having, but he is not being allowed based on party politics. The Centre also won’t bring the law and he also won’t be allowed to have a law, and he is asked to control terrorism. What are we afraid of?

When you were gathering intelligence as a military intelligence officer, what were the difficulties you faced?

The major problem is of access to other intelligence agencies. There is no sharing of information. That is the biggest hurdle.

In Sri Lanka, that was what happened. The Research and Analysis Wing was involved in training the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) but it is so compartmentalised that when we went in, the guy from R&AW who was helping us did not have the figures because it was under some other department. So, we must take some hard decisions on sharing information.

Every month there is a terror strike. Will Indians have to learn to live with terror attacks?

Do you know such attacks are happening regularly in the north-east? This is the 8th terror attack this year. I am sure it will continue.

  • Unless we must have a transparent policy that will guide the structural framework.
  • Unless the media acts conscientiously. You give more prominence to Arundhati Roy for defending a guy who attacked our Parliament.
  • Unless the structural mechanism involves states and becomes federal in character.
  • Unless decision making is done by experts and not politicians.
  • Unless you make up the deficiencies of all the counter-terror mechanisms with modern technology.
  • Unless policy making, intelligence and execution work in tandem.

There are politicians in the US and the UK too, but they could manage to stop terror attacks.

Because they are Americans, and we are Indians, I am sorry to say. We have no commitment. Did people react the same way when the Mumbai local trains were attacked? They did not because the rich and VIPs were not involved. Because five star hotels were not involved. Only poor guys, who travelled by train suffered. Did you see the same candles then?

The Pakistani media is distorting Mumbai attack facts

Two weeks have passed since terror struck Mumbai. The investigations are going on at full swing and till date, according to Indian agencies, all indications are that Pakistan’s land has been used in this dastardly attack. Indian media has also tried to highlight the involvement of Pakistan which has created pressure on the neighbours as they are now bound to act. USA and other countries have openly supported India and want Pakistan to act fast and with sincerity.

As Indian media reports the facts and other information related to terror attacks, a total opposite image of India and her investigation agencies has been built by the Pakistani media. I have read few articles and videos of Pakistan media and was surprised and outraged by what they were showing?

A report said that Mumbai terror attacks could be the handiwork of “radical elements within the Hindu community” who are “unhappy with domestic and foreign policies of the Congress-led government” and speculates that these attacks could have been engineered to influence the outcome of the general elections. Another news channel claimed that the Mumbai attack was masterminded by the RAW itself to defame Pakistan. A video claims that Kasab is not a Pakistani and a Muslim, but a Sikh boy, and his real name is Amar Singh. Because of the band he was wearing. (Mumbai Police has now revealed that terrorists wore the band for deception).

A sizeable number of Pakistanis feels that September 11 attacks were the product of a Zionist-cum-CIA conspiracy to malign the Muslims and topple the Taliban and Iraqi regimes. And in this case also they feel that this attack is a handiwork of the RSS, VHP and BJP combine. This was to stop the probe in Malegaon case in which many Hindu extremists are involved. Geo News covered the attacks round-the-clock and blamed the Indian government for failing to anticipate the attack and mishandling the rescue operation. They interviewed people like Hameed Gul, former director general of the ISI, and Shirin Mazari, former director general of Institute of Strategic Studies and they repeatedly classified the Mumbai attackers as either Hindu militants or Indian Muslims, but definitely not Pakistanis.

If such news is reported in Pakistan media 24/7, it is bound to have its impact on the people of Pakistan. I have always been told that people on both sides want peace but if such unregulated and false reports are circulated in one country, it is just impossible to accept that mental state of people will change. This will lead to mistrust among the people. I don’t know what will happen next but I want a few things from my government.

Pakistan has openly claimed that India has no evidence of the involvement of Pakistanis in the attack and it will not charge any of its citizens unless given concrete evidence. If the claims made by Indian investigation agencies are true then they should be made public and the proof of the same should be submitted to Pakistan government as well as United Nations. Pakistan should be made to take action against those involved in the act of terror.

We should publicly disclose the details of the investigations so that Pakistan media can also be taught a lesson. Moreover, these reports should be made public by Indian authorities only and not US or UK. The truth must be told. At the same time, I would like the Indian authorities to do some introspection and tell the people where it failed and what steps it will take to overcome fallacies and weakness.

The citizens of the country have suffered the most and they have a right to know the truth.