Heaven rains down tears on Mumbai

November 29, 2008

The Heavens rained down tears of sorrow on Mumbai on Saturday morning as the death toll from the attacks on the proud city climbed steadily.

The unseasonal rain marked the third day of the siege of the city’s landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

I have spent the past three days covering the story day-and-night and sitting here in the rain on Saturday morning watching the flames pour from the 105-year old Heritage Building and listening to gunshots, I have to wonder why this has gone on for so long.

I’m sitting well back from the lobby area by the famous Gateway of India and even here occasional bullets are hitting TV trucks and whistling overhead.

When I arrived here on foot at around 1030 on Wednesday evening I certainly did not imagine I would still be here nearly 60 hours later.

During the long vigil the gunfire and grenade explosions have been intermittent with fierce gun-battles for a few minutes then long periods of silence.

As far as I have been able to tell the battles have been widely spread around the Heritage section of the hotel and the outbreak of fire have been similarly widespread.

I made my way round to the back of the hotel in the early hours of Saturday where the crack Sikh regiment was stationed.

It was very quiet and very dark and as rats scampered around our legs we chatted to the soldiers who were stretching tired, cramped legs and easing stiff back.

The language barrier meant it was hard to communicate with these fierce warriors but it was clear they had been on duty for many hours and at least as long as I had been.

I had been able to enjoy at least some breaks for naps but I do not think they had.

It was very quiet at the back of the building but I could still hear a lot of gunfire from the front of the building, again, it seemed to be ranging widely along the length of the corridors at the front and not around the pool area which is situated at the back.

The Taj is U-shaped with the pool forming the gap and I could clearly see the palm trees in the gardens surrounding the cool waters I had swum in on occasionally when visiting friends had found enough money to stay at the swanky hotel.

Sitting with the other journalists on Wednesday night we all thought the siege would be over by the morning.

Dawn broke with no change in the situation. Moving back and forth between the three attack sites during Thursday and everyone thought “This will be over by nightfall” was the perceived wisdom.

How wrong that prediction turned out to be as the Trident/Oberoi and Nariman House sieges continued.

The Nariman House siege was particularly puzzling after I counted at least 13 commandos were dropped on the roof by helicopter.

It is only a five story building after all, surely it would not take long for crack troops to resolve the situation?

But the siege dragged on as the militants managed to evade both the bullets, grenades and capture.

In the rabbit warren that is the Taj and the Oberoi the running battle also dragged on and on with resolutions coming only slowly.

It will certainly be interesting to find out, if indeed we ever do, the fine details of the assaults and exactly how the battles were fought.

Compared with similar situations around the world in the past these sieges do seem to have taken a long time to resolve.

As I sit by the Gateway of India writing this, the siege at the Taj seems to finally be over.

The famous NSG ‘Black Cat’ Commandos who were ranged around the perimeter have moved it towards the building and fire trucks are arriving to attend the various fires which are still burning.

The body language of the troops would certainly seem to indicate that at long last the nightmare of India’s 9/11 is finally over.


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Mumbai incident is not a shock but it is a SHAME for a Country like India.
Now an important message should go to Indians that we are all Indians, not a Maharashtrian not a North Indian, not a Malayalee not a Tamilian not a Kannadiga not a Telugu.When Mumbai is under this terrorrorist attack, whether we have considered the people who were on the life threatening operation to save Mumbai as well as the pride of our India- Taj as they are belongs to any State or Religion or any Cast? So many good officers are lost their lives in this operation.Whether they are from Maharashtra only? NO…..A BIG NO.As Indians, they have sacrificed their lives to that City, they never considered Mumbai is not our City, Mumbai is not belongs to our State, Mumbaikars are not talking our language. NO.A BIG NO. So THIS IS THE MESSAGE(WE are INDIANS) TO BE SPREAD IN INDIANS WHO ARE KILLING EACH OTHER FOR RELIGIOUS RIVALRY,POLITICAL REVENGE,CHEATING EACH OTHER FOR THEIR OWN BENEFIT.

THIS is the TIME for INDIANS to UNITE and DECLARE WAR against TERRORRISM which will destroy INDIA no doubt……..

Posted by K.K.Manoj | Report as abusive

unlike other such operations around the world, the attempt at all the three spots in mumbai was to save the lives of hostages at all cost. this was amply demonstrated at the jewish centre building. the effort contrasts with how the authorities tackled the moscow theatre seizure.

Posted by kavaseri krishnaswamy | Report as abusive

We the inhabitants of the region of South Asia are traversing the toughest of times in our history. Our territorial economic, and political weakness are exploited by the predators who are exoploiting us and financing such lamentable events for their own unjust agenda s in this region. Such attacks at this large level could have not been possilbe without an organized antisocial instittutions behind these.The political governments of all countries of this region should unite to handle the situation at present instead of blaming one another for the violences like these. God Help us All!

Posted by Dr.Saad Maqsood Pakistan | Report as abusive

The Indian Politicians have shamed and let down India. We have had Death of Policemen and civilians because of them. They should be held responsible and punished for letting the nation and people down.
In couple of days we will go back to normal and other news like the ODI or Twenty twenty will become this nations obsession, which is very sad.
If we as a Nation don’t wake up to this call, not sure what will. Lets hold our political class responsible for this.

Posted by Murali | Report as abusive

The Mumbai Terror Attack was aimed at a few objectives.

Create terror and awe in Mumbaiites & International Community that Al Qaida, LET, Taliban continue to have sharp nails and fierce teeth.

Causing staggering tragedy by as much damage as possible to himan life and symbolic spirit of India & Int. Community – Ch_SHIVAJI_Terminus, TAJ mahal, Israeli Rabbi and singling out US, UK & Israeli Nationals.

Hit the Indian Economy by terrorizing International Business Community & Tourists from visiting India.

And although unearthing a shockingly soft administration vulnerable to terror attacks, The surgical “Low collateral Damage” painstaking,daring, highly skilled and equipped Operations successful in containing the plausible major Human casualty by the India’s National Security Guards will definitely be a shocker for the hard corest of terrorist.

Posted by Prem | Report as abusive



1. Fighting or warring.
2. Having a combative character; aggressive, especially in the service of a cause: a militant political activist.


A fighting, warring, or aggressive person or party.


a person who commits or has committed murder

This is simple enough for most of us. The left wing’s political correct crowd will be outraged.

Posted by robert bluejacket | Report as abusive

Being a common man, I will prefer to recommend the Indian Govt to snap all ties with Pakistan and tell all Pakistanis to leave India immediately. In future refuse visa to all Pakistanis for visiting India. This will reduce the opportunity of any further terrorist attacks by Pakistani terrorists.

Posted by chander | Report as abusive

these are the of

wonder people
alive our would alive

they made the wonders of the would.
and they want to destroy.
I quess
thiir grandpa
will be happy being relating to you
and making thid=s better for all of us
just go kill and have fun
Satin you are
to devil
kill a mother
to enjoy your country
your are evil
give are money to
but you are evil

Posted by miriam | Report as abusive

Mumbai, your pain is very intense… we mourn with you. we are with you in your pain, in spirit and in prayers! Have courage, God is with you.

Posted by Lilac in toronto | Report as abusive

From one American and his family to the people of India and Mumbia,

Our prayers and thoughts are with you, particularly with the families of those wounded and killed. It is again time that the entire world stands as one and condemns the cowards and murderers who will strike at civilians, women, and children in the name of their religion. We must all stand against these animals, or they surely will strike again and again.

To the military, commandos, and hotel staff who bravely tried to help when they could and then eventually overcame these animals your courage is an inspiration.

Posted by CraigF | Report as abusive

i think this is fault of indian government who don t care about the terrorist attacks either by which ever side it may be,any how our brave men done that they defected terrorist from now indian government should serous think and act on terrorist point by making intelligence strong.
Islam does not teach the killing of innocent people according to islam killing one innocent human being s killing whole human being now the terriest they are telling they are doing in the name os islam then they are ruining the name of muslims and islam
the BJP got a good issue to get government gain by developing this topic as national topic and converting it into hindu-muslim issue i think its shame on indian politics even now they dont united to fight against terriorsm

Posted by imadur rahman | Report as abusive

This attack must be an eye opener for all of us Indians and seems to be a pilot scale operation fully encouraged by our hostile neighbours to check out our reactions.

If this is not contained now, what prevents our enemies and terrorists to carry out similar attacks on a mass scale, with hundreds of them at the same time, in multiple cities within India, and that too having a vast number of their symnpathisers in our midst to support them. Just the thought of it is mind boggling.

I hope the right signals are conveyed to these attackers in order to prevent a complete breakdown of our beloved country.

Posted by Sooraj | Report as abusive

We Indian should now
1. ensure that we should not be bullied by the politicians
2. be united. Incase of any communial rites, we should not run but face them with courage
3. educate the Indian who fall prey in hands of the politicians
4. more importantly, we should have some type of way / systems wherein we can detect such terrorism….

Posted by Violet | Report as abusive

The terrorist attack on Mumbai has opened a deluge of emotions for all Indians.We all need to PAUSE for a moment and think of the REMEDY.The need of the hour is to take corrective measures to enhance the security apparatus of India. There are so many security & intelligence agencies that do not coordinate among themselves.Let us make a Federal Agency that will take a wholistic view of intelligence inputs and have a coordinated approach to such threats. Merely accusing the two Ps (POLITICIANS & PAKISTAN) is not the solution.

Posted by Abhijit Roy, Delhi | Report as abusive

“heaven rains down tears” , for the following reosens :

Because of our deeds ,
we are selecting those people as our leaders , who are reigning us on the policy of “divide and rule”, who are not honest,who are not sincere to their jobs and are not upright,who considers us as herd of sheep .
For example , very recently,when these terrorist were busy executing their plans in Mumbai, we were busy enflaming more important problems of marathi-bihari divide,nurtured by one of us .Subsequently ,our very efficient police was busy encountering a lone aggressor, from Bihar.Later on, our police was busy talking to press and lauding themselves of catching the biggest terror network within our country .
“What is terror ” has once more been shown to us and
there will be many more to come , if we are not ready to change . Remember , the reosens of the 700 years of foreign rule , which was not long ago on the time scale , though our memories are very short and we are destined to learn and stay united only ,when we are kicked ,like donkeys , by somebody outsider .

Posted by vingns | Report as abusive

I think India was taken completely by surprise. We as Sri Lankans mourn your deaths as we have faced similar situations many times before in Colombo. India should not just invest in Nuclear weapons which is not sufficient in these situations. Invest in training and technology for your forces. Have a mechanism to deploy Special Forces quicky rather than waiting for hours. After all its an emergency right?
India should not hesitate to learn even from Sri Lanka if it requires. We have faced this terrorist problem in the hands of LTTE and have gone through all these before India.

As always, we Sri Lankans are deeply shocked and shaken by what took place in Mumbai. This is the time we should hold hands together as democracies to eliminate terrorism whatever its objective is and protect our values. LTTE started this by targeting Rajiv Ghandi. Others are just following their footsteps.

Posted by Lankan | Report as abusive

Politions never cared when ordinary people were killed in Train and Market blasts. In this year alone around 1000 people were killed in blasts in Inida. Look now, when the elites are being targeted political heads rolled and the weak minority appeasing Congress Government is taking some actions.

Posted by Raju Cherian | Report as abusive

As a human being, not just as a citizen of India I would like to ask the people all over the world to stand as one and see this as an atrocity to human kind. What kind of people are these terrorists or why do they have so much hatred in them that are able to slaughter others like cattle. It is heartbreaking to see and hear all this violence.
I was just going through the comments before mine and I saw one person who has written that Paks should be banned from India. Y?? These terrorists do not have a nation..no religion…no brothers or sisters. It is just the mastermind of some devilbrained people who have been taking innocent people and training them with hatred.


Posted by soumya | Report as abusive

This was one of the worst terrorist strikes India have experienced. People have lost their lives fighting the terrorists. Our sick politicians are busy blaming each other for the massacre. For God’s sake start developing more secure system where there are very less loop holes for these terrorists to activate their plans. Stop criticizing each other because you all politician are no less than any one. Get over it pull up your socks and prove that you are worth of the chair you all are sitting on. Or else no Indian would vote any one of you loosers. I salute to all the Commando’s and police officers who have lost their valuable lives. I hope this incident goes straight in to our minds and stop discriminating amongst ourselves on the name of religion. I would pray for all valuable souls who lost their lives.

Posted by Harsh | Report as abusive

We have seen time and again that our politicians are incompetent to handle terrorism and take a stance against it. In the up-coming elections we need to show them that this is unacceptable.
All nations supporting terrorism should be boycotted by the rest of the world. It has been proven more than once that Pakistan has terrorist camps in the tribal areas and that the funding for these comes from the oil rich nations. A tough decision needs to be taken in order to eliminate the terror camps and more importantly cease their funds. Only then will the world be at peace.
What the terrorists are doing is equivalent to the holocaust – and whats worse is that there is little resistance to these individuals.

Posted by anupama | Report as abusive

This planet has seen many wars and destruction to human life and humans are still not extinct. Let me a quote a recent example in this century. Japan was able to re build one half of the factory that was destroyed by bombs before the enemies come back to destroy the other half. The human organism is not interested in your wonderful ideas or any such thing. Its only interest is survival. Basically the root cause of all this mess is in our brains. The human thinking is born out of some sort of neurological defect in the human body. Therefore anything that is born out of human thinking is destructive.

There has been no qualitative change in man’s thinking; we feel about our neighbors just as the frightened caveman felt towards his. The only thing that has changed is our ability to destroy our neighbor and his property.

Food, clothing and shelter- these are the basic needs. Beyond that, if you want anything, it is the beginning of self-deception.

Posted by av | Report as abusive

the mumbai teror attack last week was not a tragedy but an apocalypse – which defies description in words.

so do I believe anything will change? Cynical as I may sound, I don’t think so. How many times before have we heard the term “intelligence failure”? Or the assertion that Intelligence Agencies had warned about the possibility of the attacks much in advance – but the police or state authorities did not act upon it.

is there any reason to think that now things will change for good – the nation and political parties will stand together as one – leaving aside considerations of their vote banks – to pledge that we won’t let this happen again? Those who think that this would prove to be a ‘wake-up call’ are being naive. The theory that, this time terror has struck the under-belly of the ‘rich and powerful’ who will make the establishment act – is based on an erroneous premise.

the rot has set in far too deep. The sacking of a Shivaraj Patil or sacrificing a Vilas Rao Deshmukh and R R Patil at the alter of electoral expediency wouldn’t make any real difference either.

nor will the creation of a Central Agency for National Security a la the US Department of Homeland Security or introduction of more draconian laws to curb terror – serve any purpose unless it is backed by political will and bi-partisan and unanimous support across the political spectrum.

what is required is an over-haul of the entire system – which is beyond the capacity or comprehension of our present day leaders who are too busy with their internecine fights to bother about fundamental structural reforms

we will continue to hear only pious platitudes (such as “the guilty will be punished” and “such attacks will unite us rather than divide us”) or indictments from the opposition trying to make cheap political capital out of a national tragedy – until the next one hits us, perhaps with even greater ferocity.

the armed forces remain the last surviving institution in this country. God forbid if even they are politicized, it would mean the end of India as we knew it.


Posted by Sandip Ghose | Report as abusive

Why should this tragedy be called India’s 9/11?
9/11 is nothing compared to the unfortunate history of terrorism India has suffered.

This is plainly an imperialist outlook. You could be slightly more aware of things especially if you were sitting at India gate! India certainly doesn’t need the sympathy of the US to survive. However, it is understandable if the ignorance [regarding global affairs] in US can be overcome by a statement like that – portray all global events as can be understood by the USA – India’s 9/11 indeed.

Posted by AJ | Report as abusive

I have been watching, reading and listening to an army of young journalists commenting on how long this stand off was, the number of hostages died, that India was ill-prepared.
The criticism that some so called “security” experts from Israel about NSG tactics (who happen to be trained by Mossad) was the last straw.
What strikes me odd is that nobody has bothered to research enough about these kind of stand offs and tried to compare them to past situations like this (good or bad) in India and worldwide to Operation Cyclone.

I only have to point to the success of Operation Black Thunder (only two wounded Black Car commandos) by our incumbent Home Minister Mr. Chidambaram and the massive failure by the US authorities in the Waco, Texas Massacre (ran for 51 days, 6 dead agents dead and 76 civilians dead who were not hostages but treated as such anyways).

Can you provide us with a critique on how any other country could have handled this operation? I think not. In realith the operations finished at a much faster rate than expected because the leadership (no matter how much we hate them) took only one line. No negotiations. If we had started to negotiate it would have ended like IC-814. Where we tamely gave in. If we had resolved that problem like we did during Operation Cyclone. LeT would never have existed and all those incremental innocents across the country would not have died nor what we saw in Mumbai.

I dodnt mean we needed to sacrifice the people on that airplane but we could have done an “Operation Entebbe”. No Western country sided with us that day because Taliban was keeping the Russians out and supplying them gas via Pakistan. They learnt that mistake with striking effect on 9/11 and 7/11.

I can already see your readers Googling all over what I mentioned above. But I hope that somebody, somewhere can re-analyse the effects of those tragedies and help us all make a decision on avoiding those kind of mistakes again.

Posted by Paul Raja | Report as abusive

there are some very thoughtful and intelligent comments in this section. there was one by chander which i thought was ignorant and senseless. this person mentioned how all pakistanis in india should be removed from india. first of all that doesn’t make any sense because if they are pakistanis then they would not be in india to begin with. 2nd most likely you are probably talking about muslims in india and even that is ignorant. let’s not pretend this is the 1st attack that has hit india. we have been seeing these types of attack from not only muslim extremist but hindu extremist parties as well. the BJP sponosored groups are just as much responsible for deaths of many as those invovled in this attack. you can literally see the BJP members eyes light up at the thought of being able to turn this into a hindu-muslim ordeal. that is pathehtic on their part. if anything now is time we show more unity amongsts all the people of our great nation regardless of caste or religion.to blame the pakistanis is also lame because they have a terrorist problem that is tearing apart their country as well. we can use this opportunity to work with them to not only mend wounded ties but to also hit these terrorists once and for all and make stronger south asian region.

Posted by vishal | Report as abusive

These terrorists are now infiltrating every country of the world. We now need to be united against these maniacs.
They are not religeous, as i don’t know any religion where it is written that you must kill innocent people and children. They are not heroes but cowards who shoot and bomb unarmed defenceless people. That is not brave.
The brave are the people put their own lives on the line to bring all terrorist groups down.
We must not argue among ourselves over who is to blame but channel our energy into finding these brainwashed idiots.
Only then can we have peace in this world

Posted by Sheena, Scotland | Report as abusive

this incident shows that man is in search of security and
in search of identity..and man has miss interpreted the meaning of religion.. so people awake..let us unite together and spread the message of love…

Posted by guruprasath | Report as abusive

This is an act of coward and henious nature on the innocent people including women and children, who doesn’t have any relation to the terrorism. The whole world has to unitedly fight and eradicate this terrorism and to live in peace in universal brotherhood.

Posted by Ramana Rao | Report as abusive

The attack on Mumbai was a nightmare which no one would like to be repeated. So many innocent lives were lost just because of a handful of maniac militants.Its a shame that India being such a huge country with so much of its finance spent on the Defense Forces was unable to prevent such act of terrorism. There is no point in finding faults now when the thing is over instead we should concentrate our resources into finding a strategy of avoiding such attacks in future.. Let us all unite together in universal brotherhood and fight terrorism only then can we make this world a peaceful place to live in!!!

Posted by Nahida | Report as abusive

Hi Paul Raja,

Pls check out this blog entry on the NSG- are they an elite anti-terro squad to handle such situations.

http://www.drishtikone.com/?q=blog/brave ry-commandos-and-soldiers

We need to know that we lack a lot in areas of strategy, equipments, tactics.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

the original blog is a poignant writeup and brings the situation at ground ZERO LIVE BEFORE OUR EYES

Posted by RAMAKRISHNAN | Report as abusive