Thursday, December 4, 2008

We vs They (Off-topic: Bombay terror attacks, 26-29 November 2008)

Muslims vs others.

There seems to be a sentiment, more common in overseas reports but not unknown in India either, that these attacks highlight a muslim vs everybody else divide. They don't, & muslims as a community are not the enemy (though the attackers were muslim fanatics who thought they were on some sort of religious jihad). Here are some facts:
  1. Close to a third of the victims are muslim, according to a TV report. Someone apparently counted the number of muslim victims in the list published by the state government.
  2. Managements of muslim graveyards in Bombay are adamant none of the killed terrorists will get burial in their yard.
  3. If my personal testimonies count, I live in a place close to a muslim majority neighborhood; have never had reason to think of the community as enemy, & I often buy stuff from their shops. One of the five families on my floor is muslim. One of my closest friends in college was a muslim, & a deeply religious one at that.

Rich vs poor.

There seems to be a not uncommon view in Indian media that the reason these attacks are getting this massive attention is because they involved five star hotels & their rich patrons. I would beg to disagree.

The reason I'm not able to get these events off my mind is the 3 days of non-stop TV coverage. No other terrorist attack here has lasted this long. And more importantly, the complete helplessness of the state.

This event highlighted more than anything else that we need a complete overhaul of our public institutions. And most of the sane coverage of the event post-act is focused on this, apart from bringing the guilty to book. Of course there is sensationalism too, but that's comes with private media.

Unequal access to morgue.

This left a very bad taste.

Relatives of victims that came in early had to spend 10-12 hours, sometimes run across more than one morgue, to get the body. This time later went down to 1-2 hours & a single location.

Since most early victims were at CST (about 60 died when the automatic guns opened at the crowded railway station), & later ones from 5 star hotels, there may be an association; government servants aren't above giving differential treatment depending on the kind of cloths someone is wearing. Or may be it was simply that the systems got streamlined as time went by.

There is also at least one recorded case where a relative of someone rescued from hotel on day 2 was asked by hospital to shell out money before the treatment. I'm not sure of the extent of injuries on this victim.

Differential treatment at Taj.

While by & large, most rescued are all praise for the two hotels, I recall at least two unsavory accounts - both from Taj.

In one case, hotel was evacuating a lady described as a VIP but refusing to evacuate an ordinary journalist alongside. Journalist appealed to VIP, & VIP's intervention got her out early!

Second instance got a lot of coverage on TV - day 2 or 3. A doctor couple trapped inside were giving first aid to an injured hotel staff member. They called up someone from hotel - probably wanting to know where to find something at their current location. They were welcomed with a query about the department of the injured, interpreted by doctors as if the hotel cared more about some injured than about others.

News: A bomb apparently planted by terrorists on 26th at CST station was found & defused yesterday. No one was hurt, though it raises serious questions about the thoroughness of combing personnel. This was one of the at least 6 bombs they'd planted at the beginning of the attacks of which 2 actually went off that fateful day at different places, killing 3.
Update 5 December 2008: Cops say each terrorist was carrying an 8 kg bomb - making 10 bombs in all. All 10 have now been accounted for.


  1. All posts about Bombay terror attacks, 26-29 November 2008.
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Krishnan said...

Tinkoo: It was heartrending to read about one Ansari family who lost six of their family members in the CST attack. Cafe Leopold I understand is owned by a Muslim. So it is clear that terrorists' agenda was to kill as many as possible and not target only foreigners or Hindus.