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Archive for November, 2008

Shivraj Patil quits, P Chidambaram becomes Home Minister- Hindustan Times

November 30, 2008 1 comment

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has resigned, owing moral responsibility for terror attacks in Mumbai and Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram has been given the charge to head the home ministry. PM takes over the finance portfolio.

The resignation is likely to be accepted and more resignations of top officials responsible for country’s security and intelligence gathering cannot be ruled out, they said.

Patil’s resignation has also put a question mark on the continuation of Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is also under intense party pressure to step down. (via Shivraj Patil quits, P Chidambaram becomes Home Minister- Hindustan Times)

This is a turning point

Blaming 5500 politicians who are temporary office bearers, is an escapist fare by the intellectually devoid. The greater culpability (for not taking actions) and the credit for the brilliant commando operation is with the bureaucracy.

Taking down Shivraj Patil is small consolation. The rewards to the various people for handling this operation so well, starting with the Mumbai police – and to those who have twiddled for years, starting with the Indian diplomatic community, the IFS and the Finance Minsitery bureaucrats, who have not earmarked enough attention to these areas, is more important.

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Mumbai Massacre – The real blame and real culprits

November 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Vital stats of the Mumbai siege operation

On 26th November, a Wednesday night, ten terrorists, (nine killed and one taken alive), mounted a terrorist strike in Mumbai. They attacked at least ten venues (Cama Hospital, Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, CST Train Terminus, Leopold Cafe, Girgaum Chowpatty, Metro Junction + the four buildings occupied) and later occupied four building complexes ((The Oberoi Trident Hotel; The old Taj Mahal Hotel and the new Taj;The Nariman Building), killed nearly 190 people over a space of nearly 60 hours. These terrorists came with machine guns, machine pistols, grenades, incendiary bombs, satellite phones, credit cards, Indian currency and US dollars, conflict rations of dry fruits like almonds, raisins, etc.

Indian commando On Nariman House, Mumbai

Indian commando On Nariman House, Mumbai

The assault on these terrorists, initially by local police and later by the elite NSG and MARCOS commando units spread over 60 hours, sanitized nearly a 1000 rooms, covered nearly 70 kilometres of passage ways, corridors, alcoves, enclosures, rooms and  passages, in 4 building complexes, spread over nearly 1 square kilometre of dense urban population. Some 150 commandos were used – and final tally of defence personnel killed was 14 policemen and 3 commandos.

Jyoti Krishan Dutt

Jyoti Krishan Dutt

After this operation, crowds cheered and the commandos were surrounded by jubilant crowds. Indian media provided live coverage of this terrorist carnage with multiple cameras at multiple sites in a brilliant operation.

Israeli ‘experts’ were quick to condemn the Indian commando operation. Imagine the Israelis talking about collateral damage. ‘Experts’ carped about the total intelligence failure – whereas, it was clear that requisite intelligence information was drowned in the accompanying ‘noise’.

The aftermath

One day after the end of this operation, the Indian media and commentators are unanimous. Blame the politician.

The Times Of India, desperately somber, intones,

as heaps of bodies lie in morgues in a charred or decomposed state, and loved ones huddle outside to receive them one last time, it is time to ask our politicians: Are you going to go back to playing politics with our lives? Or are you going to do something worthwhile with yours? How many deaths will it take till you know that too many people have died?

Normally incisive, MJ Akbar,  falls into the trap of blaming politicians.

The most significant part of the outrage should not be obscured by the drama of events hypnotized by attack, we should not become oblivious of defence. We have been defeated by incompetent governance, both in Mumbai and Delhi … Complacence and politics gave the terrorists more protection than silence or deception could. But ineffectual leadership turning a tough nation into a soft state. We should have been world leaders in the war against terrorists, for no nation has more experience Instead we are wallowing in the complacent despair of a continual victim. Some three years ago, Dr Manmohan Singh told George Bush that there were no terrorists among Indian Muslims. Perhaps he was unaware of the 1993 Mumbai bombings. Perhaps he want ed to please two constituencies: Bush, who needed a certificate for his view that democracy was the cure for all evil; and local Muslims, who were not being given jobs but could always be offered the consolation prize of a pat on the back. Dr Singh certainly did not fool any terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba might even have interpreted such self-congratulation as a challenge.

Declares, Lord Baron Meghnad Desai,writing in the Indian Express,

It is a test of leadership.

Can India’s political parties, tested for 60 years in the crucible of democracy, rise to this occasion and save our country? Can we set aside partisanship of our politics and forge a united front? Can the two major parties set aside differences in their visions of India and weave a common narrative of why India is a nation, united and single?

Hindustan Times joins in with its own two bits. Inderji Hazra writes, in a very superior fashion,

Frankly, the ‘lack of form’ shown by our political class isn’t a big deal for me. The pre-poll mud-slinging looks bad. But so does the shit on our roads. What makes me break into a twitch is something beyond this beggar’s opera. When pundits talk about ‘asymmetrical warfare’, they never mean lathi-wielding policemen vs AK47-armed terrorists, do they? And aren’t patrols and security checks, whether along sea fronts or at the entries of malls too much of a drag to bother about day in, day out? As for bringing about more stringent anti-terror laws — or even following standard procedures of law and order and investigations — is it worth all that effort when only two things really determine how easy or hard it will be for future terrorists to attack us?

The two things: political meddling and the law of averages.

Before coming to conclusions about this attack, let us also look at some other incidents across the world in the last few years.

Global Benchmarks

On 23rd October 2002, at a theater in Moscow, the Nord-Ost incident, some 40-50 Chechnyan separatist “Special Purpose Islamic Regiment” took an estimated 850 people hostage. An estimated 300 Russians died in an attempted rescue – and 39 terrorists were killed. This entire operation took was completed after 3 days by releasing a deadly poison gas – that killed many more hostages than the terrorists.

On September 1st, 1995, again in Russia, in the Beslan school tragedy, more than 360 people were killed in the 1995 raid, purportedly led by the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who escaped during the botched rescue attempt by troops. Basayev’s claims of responsibility for this attack on Beslan School Number One, are disputed. Basayev used a gang which turned out to be bigger than what Russian authorities initially claimed. An investigator, Mr. Torshin disputed the claim, posted on a Chechen website, saying it “could be a hoax”. Of the 32 hostage-takers, one was captured alive, 30 died and one was blown apart. And the number of time taken to ‘resolve’ this crisis was again about 3 days.

On 5th May, 1980. the ‘famous’ SAS rescued hostages from the Iranian embassy in London. On April 30th, 1980, six Iranian Arab gunmen, opposed to Ayatollah Khomeni, took hostages, demanding release of some nearly 100 Iranian political prisoners. After 5 days of planning, some 30 ‘crack’ SAS troops overran the embassy. Of the six gunmen, five were killed and one arrested. Of the twenty two hostages, ninteen were set free, one died and two injured in the cross-fire. A film was later made on this operation.

In Peru, the siege of the Japanese embassy began on 17 December when the Marxist rebels stormed a diplomatic cocktail party, seizing more than 400 guests as hostages. The Peruvian forces, with the help of the British SAS, took two weeks to plan this assault.On April 22nd, 1997, the hostages were finally released – after some 4 months.American FBI pitched in, claiming some credit for this operation.

In India, the Akshardham Temple attack took four days to clear.

Let us get real, shall we?

The Indian Government (Central and State together) have an employee base of about 55 lakhs. The number of elected representatives total around 5,500. The Indian population totals 110 crores (1100 million). It makes no sense to make scapegoats of 5500 politicians.

Blaming politicians, who are temporary office bearers, is escapist and is a well tuned strategy by the entrenched bureaucracy which bears the full responsibility for this –  the success of this operation and the lack of efforts to kill this problem at its root.

Future Actions

India needs to act differently. India must work on a three point agenda.

Pakistani tribesman makes a grenade launcher in the Darra Adam Khel tribal area, 47 km from Peshawar

Pakistani tribesman makes a grenade launcher in the Darra Adam Khel tribal area, 47 km from Peshawar

One – Close down the Peshawar arms bazaar. This small time bazaar became the sourcing centre for terrorists all over the world. Initially, stocked up with arms from the CIA funded jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Peshawar, has become a problem that never ends. If required, there should be a UN mandate to send in a multinational force to surround, capture and destroy this centre for arms and armaments.

Two – Withdraw all technology from Pakistan for all arms and ammunition. No RDX, no tanks, no F-16s, no APCs. Pakistan must be put on strict diet of military technology blockade by the world. No less.

Three – Secure Pakistan‘s borders with a tripartite agreement between China, India and Pakistan which will guarantee Pakistan‘s current borders. No disputes, no claims from Pakistan have any legitimacy any more. Let Pakistan take care of its current territory and people.

These three actions will rid the sub-continent of all tensions and conflicts – no less. It has to be underpinned by India and China. The West, and Pakistan will protest, but must be made to follow this prescription.

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TERROR NON-STOP: 101 killed in Mumbai attacks

November 27, 2008 1 comment

Hemant Karkare dons a helmet - for the last time

Hemant Karkare dons a helmet - for the last time

At least 101 people, including a foreign tourist and a top counter-terror officer, were killed and about 287 injured as terrorists struck in the heart of Mumbai in planned and synchronised attacks.

Terrorists were reported to be holding people hostage in two five-star hotels, the Taj Intercontinental and Trident (formerly Oberoi) facing the waterfront across the Arabian Sea, and the Madam Cama Hostel.

Three top police officials, including Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, were among the nine policemen killed in gunfights with the terrorists, police confirmed.

Among terror targets was the city’s busiest railway station, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). (via TERROR NON-STOP: 101 killed in Mumbai attacks).

An attack with a difference

An audacious terror attack (by US allies) on the affluent part of Mumbai’s population, the latest in the series, are different from previous attacks.

For one, these attacks targetted the rich and the affluent. Instead of targetting the poor in public transport systems or the crowds in the Mumbai stock exchange, these attacks focussed on tony neighbourhoods.

The second was of course, the modus operandi. The very attack mode was different. Earlier attacks used synchronized bombing of targets through timer devices. This time, the terrorists, started with random shooting from (Heckler and Koch) German MP5 machine guns, used grenades, incendiary devices to start fires and moved from target to target. Who uses the (Heckler and Koch) German MP5 machine guns?

Overall,the HK MP5 is the weapon of choice for most European forces and the United States in terms of close-quarters man-stopping power. More notable users include the United States Navy SEALs special forces, the German GSG9 group and the British SAS special forces.

Of course, the Pakistan Ordnance Factory makes the MP5 under license also. As does Iran. Bangladesh uses these too. And not to forget Indians.

Thirdly, after these attacks, some of the terrorists stayed back, have been captured, have been killed – and a few have escaped.  In earlier attacks, the terrorists vanished after the attack.

This time the attacks came in the night – after 9:00 pm. All earlier attacks were at peak traffic hours in the evening or morning. This time, the peak time of the affluent, the night time was slotted for these attacks.

How did the terrorists land in Mumbai was another difference. They came by sea – from Karachi and landed at coves in Colaba koliwada (traditional fishermen colonies in Mumbai). Earlier, these terrorists came from sleeper cells or infiltrated the border.

Initial clues

A Israeli mother and child escaped from these terrorists. This same family had ordered for a large amount of ‘dry fruits’ – which are excellent dry rations for such attacks due to the concentrated nourishment value, compact size and long shelf life. Why did these Israelis order such a large quantity of dry fruits?

India is mulling over a cricket tour to Pakistan – and England is touring India. Pakistan has not seen any international tours – and this has affected their national morale. If India refuses to tour Pakistan that will the last refusal that they can take. Now that England has called of the tour, India and Pakistan are even.

Who are the heroes?

The biggest heroes of the day are the Indian police.

India with the lowest prisoner population in the world and the lowest police-to-population ratio also,  treats it police force very badly. Underpaid, ill equipped, with bad housing conditions, long duty hours, manipulation by the rich and the powerful, the fact that they turn up for duty is wonder by itself. In appreciation all that they get are suspicion, and (a half valid) reputation for corruption.

When senior police officers like Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salasker decided to lead from the front, it was a matter of pride for this country.

When India ignores this situation, it is a tragedy!

UPDATE

The Taj and Oberoi Trident hotels have been largely cleaned up. There has been little gun fire and incendiary bombs activity. The Nariman House is being flushed out with a pincer movement from top down and bottoms up operation. To resolve such an attack within 48 hours is an worthy achievement. The sad part was losing the police officers – which has given these fidayeens a ‘victory’ to talk about.

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Jack Welch sez …. Put firms into bankruptcy, reorganize, merge – livemint.com

November 24, 2008 Leave a comment

the auto makers’ boards should take the courageous step of putting their companies into bankruptcy. Some creditors might make the case for liquidation, but given the diminished worth of the auto makers’ assets, that’s a pretty unattractive scenario. Instead, creditors would most likely opt for the government’s stepping in as the debtor-in-possession financier supporting the reorganization.

Talk about a fresh start. For at least a decade, US auto makers have been chipping away incrementally at their massive legacy costs. But reorganization would finally open the door to meaningful structural change with the renegotiation of contracts with creditors, dealers and unions. And it would do so with a much improved chance of taxpayer return.

Once in Chapter 11, a merger would further galvanize fundamental change. Three companies are too cumbersome to unite, and Ford has a two-tiered, family-controlled structure, so we’ll leave them out of this solution for now and propose that GM and Chrysler join forces. (via Put firms into bankruptcy, reorganize, merge – Corporate News – livemint.com)

Jack Welch sez …

Chapter 11 … Bush wants to leave this problem for Obama … Obama is promising the moon …

I say, do whatever you want .. but do it quickly!

Let Unca Sam buy out the current shareholders, sell to the new shareholders (Chinese may want US auto) or build it up again (like Jack Welch sez) !!

If you want American auto to survive – that is!!

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Judge gives prisoners tips on early release-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India

November 24, 2008 Leave a comment

In a unique initiative, probably the first of its kind in the country, a sitting judge of the Bombay high court visited the high security

Arthur Road jail on Sunday and interacted with its inmates, asking them to take advantage of the recently introduced concept of plea bargaining and walk out of jail without waiting for a lengthy trial. (via Judge gives prisoners tips on early release-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India).

Scarcely … a week goes by …

With the world’s lowest police to population ratio a prison population which is again the lowest in the world, India is indeed different in its crime management. And the credit for this goes to the millions of people, the police, the judges who have centuries of tradition behind them.

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ISI disbands wing used to rig polls, will focus on terror

November 24, 2008 Leave a comment

The ISI official also said the agency would no longer “spy” on politicians and their activities. The agency has completely disassociated itself from making or breaking political parties and alliances, the official said.

The decision to wind up the agency’s political wing has been conveyed to the political leadership.

Several former ISI officials who served in the agency during the regime of former president Pervez Musharraf have recently admitted in media interviews that the organization played a key role in rigging elections in recent years. (via ISI disbands wing used to rig polls, will focus on terror).

Is this for real …

After many years, news coming out of Pakistan shows some real steps at political reform. The tribal jirga, the IMF loans, the cold turkey by China, US and Saudi Arabia.

All this is good news. Will it remain?

Will Pakistan revert to its mean?

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Korea’s turn to exploit Africa?

November 24, 2008 Leave a comment

South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics this week announced it had negotiated a 99-year lease on some 3.2 million acres of farmland on the dirt-poor tropical island of Madagascar, off southern Africa’s Indian Ocean coast. That’s nearly half of Madagascar’s arable land. Daewoo plans to put about three quarters of it under corn. The remainder will be used to produce palm oil—a key commodity for the biofuels market, Time.com reported on Sunday. (via World’s new bread basket: Africa)

Join the party …

In Liberia, Bridgestone inherited a similar lease from Firestone – which did this sweet heart deal with the American administrators of the ‘free’ slaves from the US. In the dark history of Liberia, this lease remains a darker spot.

Korea, learning from their earlier masters and their current American minders are using the same exploitative contracts in Africa.

Does Korea need this lease?

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