November 27, 2008

life in general: horrific tragedy; who, how, why?

(the pic above has been taken from, casualties at VT/CST railway station) (updates to this post are given below)
As the intense nature of tragedy unfolds in Bombay this new morning (it is 10.25 am as I write this) (click
here, here and here), the question that is coming to most people's mind is 'Who did it, where did they come from last night, how many were involved?'.
It looks like a very organised operation that could have emanted from outside Bombay itself, except for recce operations done earlier. Very few terrorist groups have the capabilities to carry out operations of such a heinous nature -- Al Queda and 1-2 other Muslim extremist groups being the most prominent. It appears to be their doing.
But police and Indian intelligence agencies did have a whiff of this, for sure. The targets -- 5-star hotels and large railway stations -- were commonly known, but the likely dates of the strikes could never have been easily forecastable by anyone.
One more point: its not only foreigners that have suffered heavy casualties, local Bombayite-Indians have too. See the first news link above, and one of the pics below.

Pic 1 to the right: After shooting passengers in the waiting area for long distance trains at CST/VT, the two terrorists walk to the local/suburban platforms
Pic 2 to the right: This man, shot inside CST/VT, managed to walk to the subway entrance outside near Capitol cinema. Both pics are from

Update 1 (5.54 pm, Bombay time): From 3 to 4.30 pm, I commuted by road & rail from my home in Kandivli (north-west Bombay) to office in Worli (central Bombay) that is 30 kms to the south from my home. Am at office as I write this. Catching up on tv news footage and a lot is still going on. Terrorists are still there at the two hotels and also at a Jews-owned guest house called 'Nariman House' at Colaba area. Guests and visitors at these 3 places are still trapped inside.

Update 2 (7.15 pm, Bombay time): Ugly incidents (blasts, gun firing etc) still on at the 3 places although police/army commandoes are also inside 1/2/3 of these and carrying out combing operators.
An aside. Yesterday, senior police officials were killed, purportedly in action and by terrorist. I have my doubts though In the murky world of Bombay police and governmental secrets anything is possible. My hunch is that Hemant Karkare, one of the anti-terrorist cell (ATC) chiefs, that got killed yesterday, could have died in mysteriously unexplainable circumstances yesterday. It is very unlikely that the overseas/Pakistan-based attackers of Bombay would know they were shooting a chief. I suspect there is something very majorly wrong in the police-ATC-government-politicians-Hindu extremists nexus/hotchpotch that has led to 1/2/3 of these senior police guys being killed yesterday night.
Update 3 (8.30 pm, Bombay time): Its still on, unfortunately, but some rescues are also taking place but again they are being shrouded in secrecy by the police (which is pathetic). Updates at, or to get updates.
But I would like to briefly share a conversation I had today with a Colaba-residing friend who was at the Colaba Causeway Street yesterday and witnessed the post-firing part of incident at Cafe Leopold.
In his words: "I was about 100 metres near Leopold when we heard shots. We thought it was firecrackers being burst by cricket fans on winning yet again in a one-day international. But when it continued for 3-4 minutes we realised it could be bullets and some of us started moving in the direction of Leopold. We heard gun shots clearly. This was somewhere around 8.30 or 9 pm, and approximately 30 rounds of machine gun fire must have been fired. It lasted for about 15-20 minutes and then the 2/3 terrrorists casually walked out and started walking in the direction of the Taj Hotel. We went inside Leopold and I actually helped in pulling out about 25
dead bodies out. Later, we heard, the terrorists killed at least one, a little boy, while walking from Leopold to Taj, just because he strained himself to see them. Later, we also got to know how they or their earlier fellow-terrorists entered the Taj. There are shops at the side of Taj Hotel that have entrances from the streetside as well as inside (see the green arrow-marked area in the map-image to the left, click on the image to see it enlarged & clearer). If I remember correctly since some months they used to be shut from the streetside and entrance only allowed from inside the hotel. The terrorists went to one of the these shops from the streetside. First there is a iron grill door with a lock, then a glass door entrance. The terrorists first broke open the lock of the iron door, then shattered the glass door, went inside the shop and then through that the other side of the shop that opens into the hotel they entered the hotel and went on to the lobby. They opened fire when inside."
Update 4 (11 pm, Bombay time): Its perhaps getting over now, although the situation at Oberoi/Trident Hotel is still uncertain.
Meanwhile, some of my thoughts on the hypocrisies of corporate bigwigs when journalists were questioning them today on their thoughts about the terrorist attacks. Ratan Tata, who directly or indirectly, owns the Taj Hotel, blamed the government for not protecting the Taj Hotel. What crap! The government is what it normally is -- inefficient and inept. But what prevented his brilliant directors, managing directors, vice presidents and senior managers from posting strict security at all corners of the Taj Hotel, particularly when intelligence reports had given them the indication of being under threat. Why couldn't he spend a few millions extra to beef up the security and post gun-toting security guards at the back-side (where the terrorists seemed to have entered and even by making noise as they had to break the glass door of the shop) and at other corners of the hotel? Its typical of the corporate world to pass the buck of miserable failure on to the politicians and government bureaucrats. But my heart goes to the families of the employees (about 16-20) of Taj Hotel who lost their lives to the cowardly terrorist attacks.

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