Monday, December 1, 2008

Snippets/ Mail Today, December 01, 2008

YOU’D expect someone high as M. L. Kumawat, special secretary ( Internal Security), to be leading the battle from the front. How wrong. The only time he was seen was when he came before TV cameras to say “ I congratulate all channels for the wonderful show these past few days.” With men like this, is it any wonder that questions are periodically raised about how equipped this government is to ensure the safety of our citizens.

But why blame the babu alone? home minister Shivraj Patil has proved time and again he has little clue about the job entrusted to him. He is so obsessed with his sartorial appearances that he would fail to hear a bomb blast if it were to go off outside his office in North Block. At an emergency Cabinet meeting convened to discuss the Mumbai attacks, he could not even get the names of the hotels right. I wasn’t surprised that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh didn’t even bother to call him to a meeting convened to discuss internal security. But it’s not unprecedented. It happened once before when Patil was asked to stay at home and away from his ministry. But this one takes the cake. Last week, many journalists got SMS messages informing them about Patil’s visit to Mumbai.

The SMS also said he would be taking about 200 NSG commandoes for rescue operations. Lest you think it was an anonymous source tipping off journalists, perish the thought. It was Patil’s office at work. I would just like to ask the minister one question: Since when have commandoes started to operate in the full glare of the media?

Failure has rewards for duds in govt too
SUCCESSIVE governments have set up innumerable committees, groups, authorities and what not to deal with emergencies like the one that had riveted the world for much of last week, but when disaster actually struck, their response was tepid as usual. I was in Mumbai last Wednesday to record a show for Aaj Tak TV when the terrorists sneaked in and let mayhem loose.
Though I was staying at the Taj Land’s End in Bandra, as soon as I heard the news in the hotel restaurant where I was having my dinner, I persuaded a reluctant taxi driver to drop me and a couple of friends near the Trident.
We reached there around midnight only and came face to face with the near indifference of those in charge to the human tragedy that was just unfolding. Police Commissioner Hassan Gafoor was there, accompanied by his senior officers, all of whom were standing outside the Trident and holding discussions among themselves.
A little away stood a group of Navy commandoes who I assume are based in Mumbai and therefore were the first to reach the spot. But apart from being there, they didn’t se
em to be doing anything of consequence. Can’t blame them, the young men perhaps were waiting for orders from above. Johny Joseph, Maharashtra’s chief secretary, who was supposed to call the shots in the absence of Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh who was away in Kerala presumably taking a good ayurvedic massage, was nowhere to be seen.
He is also the chief of the state crisis management committee. I don’t know if Johny Jospeh either sought or got any inputs that would have given him an idea of how to go about the job. The National Security Guards didn’t arrive in the city until 5 am the next day. If little Johny had acted with the urgency that the situation demanded, the elite force could have arrived at least four hours earlier. Those were precious hours lost.
But honestly, only a fool would have expected anything but this from the man. Three years ago, when Mumbai was devastated by the worst floods in living memory, Johny was the city’s Municipal Commissioner. There were a million voices demanding his head for the local administration’s shoddy response to the calamity in which more than 1,000 people died. But far from punishing him for his incompetence, he was rewarded and promoted to chief secretary.

Modi, the innate scene stealer
FROM the PM and the BJP’s PM- in- waiting to the selfanointed PM in waiting. On a day when Vilasrao Deshmukh, Maharashtra Chief Minister, dared do nothing more than whizz past the Taj and Oberoi in his bulletproof motorcade and Mumbai’s goons famed for targeting outsiders chose to stay indoors, Narendra Modi landed in Mumbai and held forth outside the Trident Oberoi in full glare of the world media. Though there are few administrators with better anti- terrorism credentials, Modi was, in fact, an unwelcome visitor.

On Nov 27, the man who has relentlessly and ruthlessly pursued terrorists in his own state had telephoned Deshmukh and Dy CM RR Patil and expressed a desire to visit the city but was told to defer it until the operations at the Taj, Trident and Nariman House were over. Modi would perhaps have gone by Deshmukh’s advice had the Maharashtra CM, not long afterwards, not tried to inject some needless politics into it.

Already under attack for fiddling while his showpiece city burnt, Deshmukh was further riled by news reports which said his government sat on tip- offs from Gujarat intelligence agencies which warned about the likelihood of terrorists using fishing trawlers and such like to enter Mumbai via the sea route. The reports were rubbished by Deshmukh and his aides at the Mantralaya, who said the warning from the Gujarat authorities were very general in nature and the inputs contained no specific information that could have averted this tragedy.

An incensed Modi then dispensed with protocol and arrived in Mumbai and headed for the Trident. Outside the hotel, he virtually taunted the Maharashtra government by announcing Rs 1 crore each for the three slain top Maharashtra police officers — as against the Rs 5 lakh that the Deshmukh government gave. And then drove over to ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s residence to commiserate with his family.

How ironic! The scourge of green terrorists paying homage to the bane of saffron terrorists.


anila said...


Pranshu Gupta said...

Dear Author!

Modi's visit may be unexpected but the ignorance of Maharashtra govt. officials & ministers is even more shameful. Let these people play the blame game but we shouldn't defame people like Modi who have been able to make their state the most progressive one in India .

Sanjay said...

There seems to be an assumption that Pakistan's real intentions behind the Mumbai terror attacks was to be able to wiggle out of its US forced involvement against Taliban and Al Qaida, and the western world be persuaded to take retaliatory action against Pakistan.
Pakistan knows only too well that US is not going to allow Pakistan to wiggle out of its involvement in Afghan border and let Taliban have a free run in Afghanistan which would tantamount to USs defeat in its war in Afghanistan, even if that takes asking India to resolve all its issues with Pakistan via negotiations rather than militarily. There may be a minute possibility of that happening provided India retaliates, but Pakistan knows it too well that it is not going to happen.
some also advocate that western world be persuaded to take retaliatory action action against Pakistan.
India has already lost its leverage on US against Pakistan on this issue by not taking part in the US declared war against terrorism after 9/11 whereas Pakistan has been forced to play a key role in the war against Taliban and Al Qaida, so we can't expect US to take retaliatory action against Pakistan at this point, and no country is going to take any sort of retaliatory action against Pakistan independent of the US.
By carrying out the Mumbai terror attacks the immediate aim if Pakistan Army is to remove the negative spotlight from itself which it finds itself in following the failure to prevent the spate of terror attacks on its own soil especially after Marriott bombings in addition to the forced removal of Gen. Musharraf and peaceful Kashmir elections and be able to say that see we are no worse than Indians. In the long run Pakistan Army wants to regain its lost 'izzat' in the eyes of the section of the Pakistan public obsessed with Kashmir by getting India to the negotiating table, or getting US to persuade India to do so on the Kashmir issue, as this kind of high profile attack can only enhance its perceived 'izzat' which is presently at its lowest ebb ever.
How can India counter this design of the Pakistan Army?
Firstly, India can not target innocent civilians in retaliation to what they have done, its just not there in our ethos.
Since military action is not going to be accepted even as an option the only alternative is to make our defenses against terrorism so strong that terrorists just don't succeed. Our security apparatus has to get inside the mind of the perpetrators of terrorism and foil their design in the bud itself. It’s not going to be easy, it will require a certain level of assurance against terror attacks not just for the handful of VIPs but also for every citizen on the street. India can't afford to lose.