Thinking of bombs from Islamabad to Mumbai

By Reuters Staff
November 27, 2008

                                                      By Simon Cameron-Moore

Anyone who lives in Islamabad will recall the  moment they heard the explosion of a suicide truck bomb that killed 55 people at the Marriott Hotel on a Saturday night in September.

Sitting in their homes, watching television, having supper, putting their children to sleep, they were physically hit by  the shockwave.

The cause was unmistakable. The sight of flames leaping from the windows of a place where we had all dined, met contacts, and attended conferences was chilling.

A month later, I left a depressed Islamabad for a week’s leave. Many of the foreigners and their families had left the Pakistani capital for good. I just went to India for a break to
see colleagues and old friends I first met in the late 1990s during an earlier assignment.

Living in a city spooked by security scares and covering bomb blast after bomb blast inevitably results in a certain morbidity.

As I visited old haunts in Delhi and Mumbai, the
vulnerability of India’s beautiful hotels  was all too obvious.

I told my friends that I feared  it would only be a matter of time before the five star hotels were targeted.

The militants had hitherto mostly sought to create panic and mayhem by attacking the general population as they shopped at bazaars or travelled on public transport.

India’s luxury hotels are centres of excellence, they are masters of hospitality, full of grace and style. They are where elites and foreign businessmen and wealthy tourists go.

Security at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai had tightened when I visited in early November.

The side and back entrances, which journalists often use, were closed, and the only way in was via the main front entrance.

I passed by the elegant, colonnaded swimming pool, and thought how easy it would be for someone to toss a grenade over the wall from the street behind. as they did at Islamabad’s
Luna Caprese restaurant in March.

A few years ago there was an explosion at a taxi rank opposite the Taj, where the road curls round by the Gateway of India. After that, I think taxis were barred from dropping passengers on the covered concourse apron at the foot of the steps to the lobby.

Since then the hotel management took a further step, introducing a security check at the entrance to the concourse from the road that visitors on foot would pass through.

It seemed rather thin protection for someone used to hotels in Pakistan. I walked past the Taj and the Oberoi on Nariman Point, and I thought of the truck bomb filled with explosives,
spiked with aluminium powder that created the inferno at the Marriott.

The results were devastating even though the truck never made it past the entrance from the road thanks to a retractable steel barrier that rises out of the ground to stop vehicles entering freely before being checked.

And then I thought how the security industy’s infrastructure would
change the landscape of India’s porous cities when their enemies shifted targets.


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India at this moment has to contain any reactive violence from the fundamentalist Hindus, which is very likely and possible. So India has to condemn that by not blaming Muslims. They have to identify the exact groups.
This is a tragic and horror drama that Indian authorities have organized for Muslims (like the American government organized 9/11 to disgrace Muslims) specially Pakistanis, and once again Indian dupes and fools are not able understand and happy to point their fingers on Muslim Community. But remember this gives an escape to the actual guilty party. We all know that Hindu activists and militants have committed terrorist acts in the past. However, you need to look at the particulars and recognize that there is a problem with terrorism in south Asia coming from Pakistan. Just for the reason that you are Muslim do not feel the need to shift the culpability, we must clash this problem together, terrorists do not serve to help Muslims grounds anywhere.
In short, The Indian government prearranged the whole series of the murderous attacks, including the last one, just in order to discredit Muslims.

Posted by Muhammad Tariq | Report as abusive

I would like to mention that I am a hindu residing in India. Hindus are so tolerant, thats the reason Islam and Christainity flourish in India. Pakistan was created only based on religion. So, Mr.Muhammed Tarq, please double check when using words like Hindu Zionists

Posted by Sudha | Report as abusive

In my money, we haven’t grown up yet. DO we think once before we say Muslims or Hindus or Christians are terrorist. The 180 odd people died in the recent Mumbai terror attacks included devotees of all these religions. Is tackling of terrorism still a blame game? Or is it just another event that we watch live on TV as it occurs? It was so helpless to see the place where you born burn into flames and the so called leaders (I doubt the definition these days) blaming each other and the security agencies much like their political speeches. The home minister’s resignation was the govt could do as of now. Is it going to solve any purpose? Why can’t the govt come out with a solid plan to counter terrorism? The govt should learn some lessons on professionalism from the terrorists. They inform you much ahead of their act about the attacks and the govt reacts not acts much after the incident. This has been a regular practice in India. After the 9/11 attacks, there is no such incident reported in the US and here in India we forget the bloody act days after the incident with much ease. Also, what about India’s emergency control architecture look like? Looks non-existing. Saw, how they were dealing with the injureds? We dint have the necessary life saving gears to deal with a critical condition. Even if someone comes out injured, it will definitely succumb to its injuries by the time he reaches the hospital. lots of things to do India..lots of things. There is no time to think, its the time to do. Just do it

Posted by Gyan | Report as abusive

Being an Indian Muslim i never felt any sort of discrimination from rest of my Indian brothers. Who ever it is either the government or our neighbors has the same respect with the religion i follow. I am really surprised to see so many posts which say that the conditions of Indian Muslims are not good. I feel i would have had this same life even if i were a hiindu.May be every one watches only Kashmir. But just look at the whole India we have the same right to get educated, to vote, to get jobs, to earn, to do our business and to follow our religions as like Hindus. I feel i am in a better situation and environment than if i were in Pakistan or Afghanistan. I don’t think when Indians raise against Muslims in their post they don’t really mean all the Muslims, atleast deep inside their heart. But every one are certainly anger on the Terrorist who have their religion as the reason and hide in Muslim countries. That doesn’t mean that the country altogether is blamed but it is blamed on the Government who has to restrict this, and this is as like people in India blame their leaders for not taking actions against terrorist. May be Muslim or even a Hindu who is a separatist will be discriminated or even ill treated… even by my self. But for the rest India is a better country for Muslims.

Posted by Shibu | Report as abusive

I object to comments made by Muhammad Tariq to this blog. I expect an organization as credible as Reuters would screen and blank out.

Posted by Rajit | Report as abusive

I do not agree with that. if this is the case why Pakistan\’s name is coming everywhere ..leave Indians. Pakistan, Afganistan, Iran, Iraq…. These all are Muslim countries and muslim extreamists in these countries are real problems for the world.
These kind of attacks on Indians by Pakistanis is not new for indians. There have been number for incidents like this from last couple of years and always there is a Islamic group which is behind it. See what is happening in Nigeria, number of Christians are killed by Muslims. I am sorry, May be i am wrong but i feel the most dangerous people on this earth are from Islam.

Posted by John H | Report as abusive

How to Beat The Indian Politician
Section 49-O of the Constitution:
(A Repetition worth a read)
Did you know that there is a system in our Constitution, as per the 1969 Act, in Section “49-O” that a person can go to the polling booth, confirm his identity, get his finger marked and convey to the presiding election officer that he doesn’t want to vote anyone!
Yes such a feature is available, but obviously our seemingly notorious leaders have never disclosed it. This is called “49-O”.
Why should you go and say “I VOTE FOR NOBODY”… because, in a ward, if a candidate wins, say by 123 votes, and that particular ward has received “49-O” votes more than 123, then that polling will be cancelled and will have to be re-polled. Not only that, but the candidature of the contestants will be removed and they cannot contest the re-polling, since people had already expressed their decision on them. This would bring fear into parties and hence look for genuine candidates for their parties for election. This would change the way of our whole political system… it is seemingly surprising why the Election Commission has not revealed such a feature to the public….
Please spread this news to as many as you know… Seems to be a wonderful weapon against corrupt parties in India… show your power, expressing your desire not to vote for anybody, is even more powerful than voting… so don’t miss your chance. So either vote, or vote not to vote (vote 49-O) and pass this info on…
“Please forward this mail to as many as possible, so that we, the people of India , can really use this power to save our nation”. Use your voting right for a better INDIA

Posted by Reynold | Report as abusive

Fellow Indians! let’s accept the truth. Our coward vote greedy govt will never go on offensive as far as this terror is concerned. It’ll certainly wait for the anger to die down. Till then, hear the rhetoric.In some days, media attention will shift to fresher TRP friendly themes & we’ll forget, this time too.
We will be afraid of moving out from our homes & Hafiz Muhhamad Saeed will again fearlessly shout in Lahore-’Run India run,lashkar is coming’.
If innocent Indians are dying, they must as cowards have no right to live.

Posted by Milind | Report as abusive