Ten years after the Mumbai attack
Mains Paper 3: Internal Security
Prelims level: Mumbai Attack
Mains level: Security challenges and their management in border areas
- Ten years ago on this day, Pakistan carried out one of the most
heinous of terror attacks perpetrated anywhere in the world.
- The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, named after the date in 2008 when
the attack took place, is in some respects comparable to the September 11,
2001 terror attacks in the U.S. Comparisons with the Madrid train bombings
in 2004 and the London bombings in 2005 are, however, misplaced.
- India, and Mumbai city, are no strangers to terror.
- In 1993, over 250 people were killed in Mumbai in a series of
coordinated bomb explosions attributed to Dawood Ibrahim, reportedly as
reprisal for the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
- In July 2006, bomb explosions in a number of suburban trains in
Mumbai killed over 200 people and injured several more.
- The most audacious terror attack till the 26/11 Mumbai terror
incident was the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001 by the
Pakistan-based terror outfits, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
Into the 21st century
- Terrorism is hardly a post-modern phenomenon. Several of the
terror attacks in the 21st century, however, reflect a paradigmatic change
in the tactics of asymmetric warfare, and the practice of violence.
- Today’s attacks carried out in different corners of the world by
al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the Islamic State, al-Shabaab, and similar
terror outfits, are very different from those witnessed in the previous
- The tactics employed may vary, but the objective is common, viz.
achieving mass casualties and widespread destruction.
Significance of the 26/11 attack
- The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack was one of a kind, and not a mere
variant of previous instances of terrorist violence. It was the rarest
of rare cases, where one state’s resources, viz. Pakistan’s, were employed
to carry out a series of terror attacks in a major Indian city.
- It was a case of ‘war by other means’, in which the authorities in
Pakistan, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the Pakistani armed
forces, were involved.
- It is difficult to recall any recorded instance in modern times
where a state and its various agencies were directly involved in carrying
out a terror attack of this nature.
- The Mumbai terror attack was not based on a sudden impulse or
- Several years of planning and preparation had preceded the attack,
even as the the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, was talking peace
with then Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.
Involvement of Pakistan army
- The degree of involvement of the Pakistani deep state in the
planning and preparation of the attack is evident from many aspects that
have come to light subsequently.
- Seldom has any terrorist group then, or for that matter even now,
used such highly sophisticated, state-of-the-art communications, including
Voice over Internet Protocol.
- Planning for the attack involved the use of a third country
- Handlers in Pakistan were given unfettered freedom to provide
instructions to the terrorists during the entire four-day siege.
- The choice of the sea route aimed at deception and avoiding
detection, was again dictated by official agencies.
- The involvement of the Pakistani Special Forces in preparing the
10-member fidayeen group was confirmed by one of the conspirators, Abu Hamza,
arrested subsequent to the 26/11 terror attack.
- The training regimen dictated by the Pakistani Special Forces
involved psychological indoctrination by highlighting atrocities on Muslims
in India and other parts of the globe, including Chechnya and Palestine.
- The basic and advanced combat training; commando training;
training in weapons and explosives.
- The training in swimming and sailing all under the watchful eyes
of Pakistani instructors from the Special Forces.
- An even more unusual feature of the Mumbai attacks was the
involvement of two U.S./Canadian nationals of Pakistani origin, David
Headley (who at the time was a LeT operative) and Tahawwur Hussain Rana. The
10 attackers came via the sea from Karachi in a small boat, hijacked an
Indian fishing trawler en route, and reached Colaba in a rubber dinghy on
November 26 evening.
Horror over four days
- The targets were carefully chosen after having been reconnoitred
previously by Headley for maximum impact, viz. the Taj and Oberoi Hotels,
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the Jewish centre at Nariman House,
and the Leopold Cafe, since these places were frequented by Europeans,
Indians and Jews.
- The Mumbai terror attack went on for nearly four days, from the
evening of November 26 to the morning of November 29.
- Seldom has a terrorist incident lasted this length of time, since
the Munich Olympics massacre in 1972.
- In the wake of the terror attack, several steps were initiated to
streamline the security set-up. Coastal security was given high priority,
and it is with the Navy/Coast Guard/marine police.
- A specialised agency to deal with terrorist offences, the National
Investigation Agency, was set up and has been functioning from January 2009.
- The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) has been constituted to
create an appropriate database of security related information.
- Four new operational hubs for the NSG have been created to ensure
rapid response to terror attacks.
- The Multi Agency Centre, which functions under the Intelligence
Bureau, was further strengthened and its activities expanded.
- The Navy constituted a Joint Operations Centre to keep vigil over
India’s extended coastline.
- The ground reality is that newer methodologies, newer concepts
more daringly executed, and more deeply laid plans of terrorist groups have
made the world a less safe place.
- The actual number of terror attacks may have declined in recent
years, but this does not mean that the situation is better than what existed
a decade ago.
- Terrorism remains a major threat, and with modern refinements, new
terrorist methodologies and terrorism mutating into a global franchise, the
threat potential has become greater.
- One new variant is the concept of ‘enabled terror’ or ‘remote
controlled terror’, viz. violence conceived and guided by a controller
thousands of miles away.
- Today the ‘lone wolf’ is, more often than not, part of a
remote-controlled initiative, with a controller choosing the target, the
nature of the attack and even the weaponry to be used. Internet-enabled
terrorism and resort to remote plotting is thus the new threat.
- Operating behind a wall of anonymity, random terror is likely to
become the new terror imperative. There are no ready-made answers to this
new threat. Vigilance is important, but remaining ahead of the curve is even
Q.1) Consider the following about the National Data Sharing and
Accessibility Policy (NDSAP).
1. It aims to facilitate access to government owned data in
machine readable form.
2. It envisages proactive and open access to the data generated by
various Government entities.
Which of the above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
Q.1) Vigilance is important against new variants of terror, remaining
ahead of the curve is even more vital. Explain it