Thursday, November 27, 2008

Explosions, Gunshots and Hostages

I am still trying to come to terms with what is going on in the city I live in. It is close 20 hours since terrorists boldly opened fire and lobbed grenades in certain areas in South Mumbai. In the midst of the intermittent firing and grenade explosions that the militants have smartly spread across more than two locations in the southern part of the city, two of them got away from the Victoria Terminus, the main railway station in South Mumbai.
A TV channel just aired CCTV footage of two guys slinking away from Cama Hospital. All this is still sketchy for me but what is amazing is that these guys got away in police vehicles! Of course this was much later after the initial firing in Colaba yesterday around 21:30. It is almost 18:00 in the evening today — 9 terrorists have been reported killed, 5 arrested (allegedly), 10 are still holed up in the Taj Mahal Hotel (a 5-star hotel), 5 more on the 19th floor of the Oberoi Hilton (another 5-star on Marine Drive), and another lot in Colaba in a building called Nariman House. There are some who seem to have escaped too. There are hostages — lots of hostages in the Taj Hotel and Oberoi. They include hotel employees and foreign nationals.
(
The numbers are changing all the time. Right now, none of these numbers hold true anymore. Now they are not talking about any of the arrests made. I am tired just keeping a tab on this, cannot imagine what the hostages and the commandos are going through. Hopefully, even the terrorists are getting tired and lowering their guard. I came to know my sister's friend just managed to get out of one of the hotels by the skin of her teeth. I hope these guys are caught and punished with the authorities.)
According to NDTV, there have been 10 attacks, 9 in southern Mumbai.


Who is the Deccan Mujahideen?
It is said the authorities received an e-mail originating from some Russian IP address staking claim over the incident. The group calls themselves the "Deccan Mujahideen". There was never a group that existed with this name! There is the Indian Mujahideen and they are also still a new outfit.
A TV journalist reported a terrorist had been arrested from Oberoi Hotel (I personally do not believe it yet, since the exchange of fire is on the 19th floor) who had divulged his name and nationality — mohameddan name and from Pakistan. He could have been fibbing but the TV guys love to report anything.
One foreign national who was lucky enough to be evacuated from the 5-star said they hid themselves in the kitchen for a while. The terrorists waved at them to move somewhere, the women were freaked out so they let them go. When asked what the militants looked like, he said they looked very young — 22 years old, short hair, clean cut face. Then he hesitated...but said the men did not resemble the typical Islamic militant.
I was told there is a possibility that one of the militants inside the Taj Hotel is a woman. Don't know how true that is, they saw a long-haired person at one of the balconies. Noone on TV has made a mention of 'her' again.
Today's paper carried a picture of one of the guys at the Victoria Terminus. Another one with a full front shot of both the men was shown on TV, along with the CCTV footage of them escaping. They are smart looking men dressed trendily — just like any other youngster in the city.
The CCTV footage has been uploaded on a news site but it will not play, possibly due to the traffic. If you watch it you will notice the way they move. It was like out of a Counter Strike game.

The Police are Never Prepared — Even if They Were, They are Always Outsmarted
The cops took ages to call the army in. The police has never strengthened its operations since the serial blasts back in 1993. They still function like a small town 'chowki'. They tried their best but their underpowered effort has cost over a hundred lives plus their own encounter specialists and seniors.
There are over 20 of them. One of the youngsters has been seen carrying a large rucksack. How did all this go unnoticed? How can someone walk into a hotel inquiring about the guests' nationality with an AK-47?
And...terrorists got away! One militant shot at an anti terrorist squad (ATS) officer at point blank range and got away in his car. And I am left thinking, shouldn't those cars be easily trackable?
Most of the cops do not have bulletproof vests, their body language (around the scene) shows they have not received any training to deal with such situations.
They do not use any sort of special equipment or any presence of mind to assess the situation and deal with the purpose of "containment".
Finally the army is doing something, they have entered the hotels and have a gargantuan task of scouring each and every hotel room. The Oberoi has around 800 rooms. There has to be a better way. The only consolation is that the army has experience in dealing with these situations because of the militant activity in Jammu and Kashmir.
The army has stated that it could be a while till we see a result but atleast they seem to be working at it. Our police is not capable of tackling such a situation — mentally, physically or tactically.

Who is Responsible?
It is too early to blame anyone. And quite pointless too. The media is cornering people who also stand to lose a lot from this attack but they still hound the owners of the hotels.
I wonder what the Central Government has to say about this? At the end of the day, the Center is supposed to provide funds to improve security in cities has been targetted by militants.

I just hope and pray I wake up tomorrow to hear that the situation has been brought under control, the hostages safe and next step of finding the culprits begins.

1 comment:

Droomvla said...

I was actually thinking about you and your family when I saw the news on TV. That must have been quite a scare!

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