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2009 February 26 [Thursday]

Three months later

... Its been three months since the first terror attacks on Mumbai on Nov26 last year which was a haute topic of debate for the media ; certainly not a day easily forgotten. It should'nt be forgotten until justice is done either. By the time our Republic day dawned two months later, the heat reduced to glowing embers and it seemed that we would have to live with a failed police and judicial system, yet again.

Even though the Indian prosecutors managed to get their act together yesterday, with the Mumbai police filing a 11,280-page charge-sheet in the 26/11 attacks case, naming 35 Pakistanis as wanted suspects out of the 47 chargesheeted for terrorism ; I wont be alone holding my breath (literally) on this one, despite the public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam's promise of justice in 3-6 months.

The 284 VOIP calls the terrorists made have been traced to a serving Pakistani colonel but there are also news reports of an Italian link while the Japanese were into nuclear business with Pakistan which is intent on being as uncooperative as possible by raising polemic questions  :

Pakistan has sought an explanation, for example, why the terrorists’ maritime movements did not come to the attention of the Gujarat and Maharashtra governments and how their ship escaped the attention of India’s costal radar defences.

Given that Pakistan’s investigators are well aware that the terrorists reached Mumbai in a hijacked Indian fishing boat — a fact India’s dossier of evidence makes clear — the question is mystifying.


Its no secret that the US army is training Pakistan with a number of US military advisors but the USA has virtually no control on how the Pakistanis use the training against them (like the 26/11 attacks) a fact acknowledged for many years now.  Even the FBI is going to find it hard to get Pakistan to unravel its terror networks, especially when terrorists are intent on razing their home.



2008 December 7 [Sunday]

Does religion ask you to be violent?

The one thing that refuses to go away from my mind .... reading reports of the Jewish hostages being tied up and tortured before being killed. That they were killed painfully is extremely disturbing and for personal reasons. Around 195 died and included Hindus, Christians, Muslims, who who were killed in the attack but the terrorists didnt ask any of them the religion before they killed them except the Jews, who they decided to torture and then slaughter. That sounds so much like Aurangazeb torturing the last Maratha Peshwa alive, slowly skinning him whilst hanging him by his legs, for refusing to convert. That the last Peshwa chose to die a slow painful death on the 21'st day of torture, instead of converting to Islam, was something never taught in our history textbooks.

That lack of tolerance for another is similar in this singling out of the Jews. It irks me because I've lived for years in close proximity, shared innumerable laughs, tears, jokes, Sabbath's and Puja's with one such family who treated me as they would their own child. They were more Indian than most Indians - think long hair, sari, bindi .... and you know what I mean. I still remember the disapproving look I got for cutting my waist-length hair.

And that is why, it is disturbing and scary to even imagine that people you have known as a child and have grown-up with could be tortured and cruelly killed because they follow a different religion than you do.I am yet to overcome the fact that for some people religion is all about intolerance and fanaticism. Its a harsh truth, but it is.

Julio Riberio says his ancestors were Hindus from India and they never had an issue with getting along with other religions. I cant argue with that fact but its scary to think what India is degenerating into. We Indians are selfish, as after walking at a protest rally or blogging (like this), we will return to our excitingly mundane daily life until the next incident occurs and its time to repeat the circus all over again. Not to forget all the publicity-hungry stars who will hog the media bytes with inane comments about the spirit and tolerance of the the great Indian (re)public !! Talk of collective amnesia !! Easier to hold hands, have a candlelight vigil, and just impossible to control who gets voted from our constituency. THAT and Corruption would be two root causes of our misery. Our apathy is just icing on the cake for a public servant.

For a change the US got tough talking with Pakistan who acknowledge the terrorists were its nationals trained by the army and LeT. This has significance for both USA and other countries. Now that the LeT has tasted success it can strike at will anywhere in India, target all foreigners who come to India whether for business or pleasure. Since the LeT wants to take Jihad all over India and Jammu&Kashmir is their entry point in India they can almost succeed because there is not a single state in India without a sizable Muslim population which Indian politicians love to play around with. Its their vote-bank politics of divide and rule. If nothing else we have something to learn from the Americans who after 9/11 changed the way the world looks at terrorism. Yeah individual freedom and liberty was curbed but who wants a democracy where one can get away with murder, just like that!! Almost impossible in India due to vote-bank politics and public servants (read politicians) who will equate slain martyrs with dogs, whilst claiming the tag of 'world's largest democracy' ... but that exists only for them with the Z+ security, government bungalows and other perks that they enjoy at the expense of the tax-payers money. They need to learn a thing or two from TATA's generosity.

This slaughter would not have been possible without local traitors to help them in planning and logistics. Do we have the courage to kill the enemy within our midst? Isnt the quintessential chalta hai (take it easy!!) attitude responsible for the current mess? We talk of corruption, corrupt politicians, but are unable to do anything because it needs collective action. One individual cannot do it. It has to be a mass movement and should start with the public servant's accountability to the Indian tax-payer and voter(s). Each voter has a right to petition for a "Reject Candidate Vote" which was lost when the electronic voting was bought in. Earlier one could stamp on two candidate and nullify one's vote as a form of rejection. With electronic votes that is impossible. So I am forced to vote for a candidate I dont like (or choose the lesser evil) or Not vote at all (which is not even an option imho). So do we really have it in us to stop corruption once and for all or are we going to turn the other way because it didnt happen to us. Why are we waiting instead of being proactive? It should be mandatory for every 18 year old person (including women) to serve in the military for a period of 10 years. That would give people a real life perspective and force them to be more patriotic and live *equally* as common citizens which is not the case now.

In all this I feel sad for Moshe, the 2-year old orphan ...i wonder if he will ever overcome the trauma of his parents brutal murder just two days before his birthday. That will be a horrific fact he will have to relive all his life just days before his birthday each year. How cruel - What kind of religion asks you to be cruel, terrorize and indulge in mindless violence?

2008 November 29 [Saturday]

the taj of terror

Now that the 60-hour Taj seige by terrorists in downtown Mumbai is finally over its time to take stock of the past present and future events.

PAST

Terrorism has never been new to India and although lakhs of Indians have been killed in terrorist attacks in India ever since the Kashmir problem escalated in the 1980's, India has never got the world's attention or sympathy when it came to acknowledging across the border state-sponsored-terrorism. Besides the fact that our governments dont give a damn about Indian citizens, the US, UK and every other developed nation always ignored us screaming that Pakistan was a petri-dish for mushrooming terrorism. The US always had a soft (blind) spot for Pakistan because of the latter's support during the Cold War and showed their gratitude with billions of dollars in Financial aid and the decades old green-card lottery system, whereby 50,000 visas each year would be doled out to Pakistani men who could later bring their spouses and family members on a dependent visa whilst educated Indians had to make do with a cap on the H1 visas annually. I came across a former Intelligence chief Vikram Sood's blog entry on Terrorism which makes an interesting read.

PRESENT

The Pakistani terrorists were able to strike at will as they had complete terrain knowledge especially the Taj Hotel and it was only when the terrorists singled out Americans and Britishers and Jews that the world smelt the coffee. 'Kashmir is just an excuse to kill at will in the name of religion'.

The Jews came to India more than 2000 years ago and one of my neighbour(s) in Mumbai was a Jewish family, which was my second home and I can never forget that they would never eat non-veg in my presence out of respect for my beliefs. Even my non-veg eating Hindu friends have never respected my beliefs as much as they did !!

One captured terrorist admits that they thought they would return to Pakistan alive and didnt know it was a suicidal mission. Duh.... anyone with half a brain would know that the moment you pick up a gun you become a terrorist, and for someone who has no qualms about killing other human beings, he wants the mercy of life for himself. The suicidal mission was well-planned some months ago when they had visited Mumbai pretending to be Malaysian students. By breaking it up into small modules with each unit having 'need to know basis' information, the Pakistani bosses had ensured that brainwashed souls would be remote-controlled at every stage and re-create an Indian 9/11.

FUTURE

Terrorists do not believe in the philosophy of any religion ...they are just selfish in action and motives, either professional or political. India has never been good at politics and has always been bad at selling itself, the lack of spy intelligence notwithstanding. Our political parties will never take a stand and reach a consensus on tackling terrorism firmly. Rather they will indulge in debates about terrorism which will turn into a debate about Muslims being a minority in India, which directly benefits the terrorists. When will our so called secular politicians come out of this false cocoon and face terrorism with conviction without worrying about vote-bank politics ?!

While the politicians will have to bury their hatchets and work for a national agenda, we also need a neutral media which has the guts to focus on the truth and not just sensationalism and regional appeasement tactics to get maximum viewer ratings. The likes of Shabana Azmi, Arundhati Roy, Teesta Setelvad  and Barkha Dutt could do well and stop insulting our intelligence with their biased babble. Do they have the courage to live the life of a military commando or that of good officer(s) who get killed due to poor quality bullet-proof jackets in the line of duty ? Ofcourse not... instead we are bombarded with  their brainless chatter from those cosy news-rooms 24/7. For a change the media could focus on facts instead of sensationalism and minute-by-minute analysis. Why do we forget history in the form of the unforgettable hijack of Indian Airlines IC184 where we were unfortunately negotiating with terrorists and who can forget the time V.P.Singh released a dreaded terrorist Masood Azhar for securing the release of Rubbaiya Sayyed in Kashmir who went on to setup the LeT.

Today we are glued to the moving images on TV but tomorrow as a nation we just move on, certainly not any wiser or more unified on the issue of weeding out terrorism. We conveniently forget about it till the next episode. That is our history and unfortunately this horrific incident is no less tragic than the gazillion terrorist attacks all over India but our esteemed politicians will grab media bytes to lob accusations and counter-accusations on who is more serious about fighting terrorism than actually doing something about it. Will we ever learn from history ?!

Atleast let's not forget to pay our tributes to the military martyrs and their counterparts - the civilian heroes.

UPDATE : Wanted by Interpol, sheltered by Pakistan and Dubai, Dawood Ibrahim, provided logistics to the terrorists. From the ET : "Instructions were passed on to the jihadis outside using satellite phones. Also, some terrorists were tracking the movements of ATS officers on TV and accordingly instructed the jihadis located closeby to attack them. Even after the agencies realised this and switched off the cable/satellite TV feed to the hotels, the terrorists continued to get updates from their local handlers having access to TV channels". Besides, they were also instructed to kill till death and used Google Earth Maps for geo locations of their targets. Apparently  four terrorists are still believed to be at large and a hunt is on for them..... Scary and depressing !!

2008 November 28 [Friday]

the 11/26 mumbai attack

First, thanks to all those who mailed me to find out if I am ok and I realize I should have blogged but then...... its raining, cold and depressingly sick and ..well, never mind ! So although I moved out, half my life is still in Bombay and it was very upsetting to read that Mumbai has been held hostage yet again .... "The most audacious terror attack in Mumbai began Wednesday night, when militants attacked high profile landmarks, including the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, Oberoi Trident Hotel, Metro Theatre and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) railway station." says NDTV.

Nothing new that all of these are landmarks especially when the terrorists had ample resources like google and yahoo maps to trace each path of attack and plan maximum damage physically and mentally. This is not just Mumbai's 9/11 as this time the terrorists targeted British and American nationals and not just the aam aadmi (common Indian)..... " The involvement of westerners, including Americans, Britons and Israelis as victims and hostages in the ordeal also ensured greater coverage than usual with US experts trying to connect the dots and link the attack to Kashmir and al-Qaida, and its possible repercussions on United States." says the TOI.

Their planning and accuracy shows the goal was to instill fear and dread within the Indian economy and business industry. Although Indian lives may be cheap, its nice to note that the US and EU dont treat their citizens as dispensable objects. But since I dont have very high expectations from the Indian government political parties as this terrorist attack will be used as another vote-garnering tool for the next elections.

I have no great solution or suggestions to a very large problem that is now poised to be a world problem and the US would indeed be smart if it stopped doling out 'development aid' to Pakistan. Its not difficult to see how your Financial Aid Dollars create a (b)lasting impact. Another root cause of all of India's problems and evil is CORRUPTION and until such time that every citizen does not learn ethics and values, to say "NO Bribes", we will accelerate the downward spiral. The same goes for foreign businesses that come to India. Take a stand, say NO to corruption and kickbacks. Life is circular.... and I'm done with Mumbai !!

Updated the title to 11/26, not 28.

2008 September 15 [Monday]

++LClabs

Its fantastic to see an idea grow and carried forward because other people believe in it. Thrilled to announce that we have a new addition to the LC family -- Labs in DELHI :-) YAY !!

FAT-net has agreed to host the space and bandwidth and its open to women learners only but men are allowed to conduct technical talks. Check the 'fat-net.org' website for their addres. Contact Hassath [hassath gmail com] and AjayKumar [ajuonline gmail com]for more details. With Delhi its 4 Indian metros covered ...the others being :

2.MUMBAI: At the Bigadda office in Malad. Contact Jayashree Pare [Jayashree DOT Pare # GMAIL DOT] or Warren Noronha - Email: warren.noronha AT gmail.com { Phone: +91-989-280-6204}

3.PUNE :  Contact Swatee Karpe (swateekarpe # GMAIL dot COM) for further details.

4.BANGALORE : DeepRoot Linux Pvt. Ltd., #93/4, First Floor, Nandidurga Road, Bangalore - 560 046 INDIA Phone: +91 (80) 4112 4781 / 82 / 85. Contact Mr. Abhas Abhinav or me.

2007 December 2 [Sunday]

Run Lola Run

Have you ever been in a situation where you and another person are physically present at the same place at the same time, but he is fine while you feel hunted and stalked ... ?!?!

The other day, I found a man following and trying to stand very close, under the pretext of examining items on display at a store. There was tons of space so knowing what was coming next, i wandered away each time he came too close for comfort. After 10-15 min of "dodge-the-creep", I got fedup and hoping he would go away on seeing me with another man, I returned to stand next to AP who was busy enjoying the antics of a kid playing with a weighing machine.  Even so the creep was audacious enough to saunter next to us (near me actually) and listen in to our conversation. Irritated, i strode up to the weighing machine, banged my fist on it and looking at AP said, "Yeh dhai kilo ka haath jabde se connect hoga toh bahut darrd hoga kya? - Will it hurt a lot if this 2.5 kg fist connected to a jaw?"

Prone to exaggerate quite well, AP went on about how i broke his shoulder the other day, hand-two months ago, blah, blah.... I didnt choose to correct him that the last time he had fractured his hand was as a kid, rather, i enjoyed his exaggerated claims as the creep standing next to him was putting as much distance between us as possible. I don't find anything wrong in re-claiming my private space. On our way home I told him the whole story. So even if two people are physically present, each one is poles apart in terms of what we experience.

Back in Bombay, M and me were climbing down the stairs to the platform one day, when a train pulled in at the station. A wave of men rushed up the stairs from the arriving train. Now overcrowded places are perfect spots for men to misbehave and blame it on the crowds. Usually i use a blocking technique we had learnt in karate but yet this creep got an opportunity. In a flash i turned after him and wove my way up the stairs (i was going down) through the milling crowds, with one mojri on my feet (the other one having slipped off in the bustling crowd). After a few hundred yards when few people were around us, i (barefoot, silent) reached him and was amused to see the shock on his face on facing me. As he crawled away I turned and the crowd around me had frozen in time for a moment, then it was life as usual....all this in less than two minutes.

If ever a victim musters up the courage to question her attacker, the first question (accompanied with an insolent leer) will be "batao, maine kya kiya? (describe what i did?)". Now which woman would want to describe the horrible creepiness she has been through, just so that the perpetrator can embarass the victim even more in public... most women i know prefer to curse a few bad words and walk away, with the assailants laughter or snigger or taunts echoing in her ears.

It would be impossible to pen each incident as i know its not the last and moreso I didnt experience anything different from what every woman in India whether she is from a city, town or village has at one time or the other in the course of her life experienced..... molestation, harassment in public or verbal taunting. Defined by Indian laws as "eve-teasing", each Indian woman is expected to tolerate and not retaliate. If a creep thinks he can physically assault me in public he should be prepared to take a fist to his face peppered with some very colourful language. In public, most men will not help because many guys think it happens to other women and never one's own....which is farthest from the truth.

Try this, ask each woman in your life about her experience and she will have a story to tell. Most women are embarassed to talk about it and have come to accept it as a part and parcel of daily life and frankly when one is groped, pinched, brushed by, verbally abused or commented upon almost on a daily basis, women tend to get stoic and desensitised to the reality of violation of the individual's private space in public spaces.

As for taking legal recourse, its an absolute waste of time, money and energy to approach the police or courts for eve-teasing and harassment complaints. Absolutely nothing positive will result from that. When I heard of the blanknoise project (IMHO, they propagate and advocate passive tactics which very few Indian men will understand) in Bangalore, I thought why does Bangalore need it ... its more spacious than Bombay (and less crowded) so with space available men will forget to accidentally bump, grope, brush against women. Err.. i was/am wrong.

2006 July 19 [Wednesday]

a prayer

The silence was deeply moving.

2006 July 18 [Tuesday]

violent identity politics

Today, Mumbai will pay homage to victims of the terror attack and we decided to take it to the streets with candles and silence at 18:24 IST. All along the 7/11 blast has been linked by the media to the Kashmir issue which has been an on-going tussle for 5+ decades, much before the advent of the 90's which changed the face of terror all over India. There is definitely no excuse and no root cause for terrorism, and violence should not be justified with illogical reasoning.

All our life we constantly struggle to define and understand human identity based on factors we perceive as important like religion, race, social / financial status, nationality or entirely out of imaginary mental feelings. Our experiences and circumstances also conditions behaviour and attitude in life which explains somewhat, why some people resort to violence in pursuit of an identity.

Probably change could start with : ‘Who am I?’ , which addressed individual identity via self-inquiry but this "non-attatchment to self" theory is also echoed in some sections of Theravada philosophy, both converging and sometimes taking parallel paths to self-discovery, an internal process.

2006 July 11 [Tuesday]

bomb blasts

Earlier in the day we heard of 5 bomb blasts in Srinagar, but a little over an hour ago, there were 6 bomb blasts on the Western Railway in Mumbai. The situation is chaotic as we dont really know the full details yet and since all the phone lines are jammed (including cell phones), this is a heads-up to say 'am ok.

Landlines and cells are jammed with no network coverage which is really stupid and short-sighted as it prevents people from informing friends and family that they are alive or get help or contact anyone who can atleast get help to them or know the status of their friends. Seemingly its been done to prevent rumours from spreading...get real, this is not disaster management, rather its compounding the difficulties by creating more stress and chaos in an already desperate and disastrous situation.

Update : The horrific synchronised terror attack has claimed 147 innocent people and hundreds more injured. The situation at each of the 8 sites where the bomb blasts occured is chaotic but the exact figures would definitely be higher. In 2003, I was plain lucky to have left the blast area five minutes before it happened and yet hearing about the blast did send a chill down my spine.
The railways is the lifeline of the city with 7 million people using it as basic means of transportation. Now that the trains have stopped plying people are walking along the roads to reach home but all major roads are jammed with traffic.