Devastation in Mumbai

![Demonstrators wave the Indian flag in front of the Taj Mahal Hotel. (Rajanish Kakade/The Associated Press)](/content/uploads/India.jpg)
Demonstrators wave the Indian flag in front of the Taj Mahal Hotel. (Rajanish Kakade/The Associated Press)
While many Americans rejoiced in commencing the holiday season, the citizens of Mumbai, India endured their first onslaught in series of terrorist attacks lasting three days. Terrorist gunmen attacked a variety of places, including two premier hotels, a hospital for women and children, a CST train station, several restaurants, and a Jewish center. The terrorists targeted foreigners, a departure from their previous policy of directing attacks only at Indian civilians. Still, the locations of the attacks led leaders like Sonia Gandhi, the president of the ruling Congress Party, to call these incidents an attack on the prestige of India.

The gunmen arrived in Mumbai by a boat from Pakistan and successfully carried out their suicide mission. The attacks call into question the domestic security measures employed by India’s current administration. As if this were not enough pressure, the government faces an election in six months. The attacks carried heavy political costs for Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who resigned from his position three days after the catastrophe.

Following the initial attacks, the Indian government developed a short list of suspected terrorist organizations that were likely involved. Among those groups were Lashkar-e-Taiba and Indian Mujahideen. A relatively new terrorist group named Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack, but many reports question whether it is a real organization, let alone a culpable one. The assumed group behind the mayhem, Lashkar-e-Taiba, meaning Army of God, is hardly a nascent threat to Indian security. Among other incidents, India has accused the Islamic group of an assault on the Indian Parliament in 2001, explosions in Mumbai in 2003, and an attack on Delhi, the nation’s capital, in 2005.

Although the Indian government has not ascertained an affiliation between the terrorist group and the Pakistani government, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blames the attack on the Pakistani government and especially its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency for allegedly allowing the operation of Lashkar-e-Taiba training camps in Pakistan. Despite the condemnation and rejection of Lashkar-e-Taiba by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Singh still claims Pakistan supported the operation.

At a press conference in Srinagar on October 10, 2008, Singh expressed his vision for India-Pakistan relations as one in which “both countries situate their bilateral relations in a cooperative framework of mutual understanding.” The escalation of tension between the countries as a result of the terrorist attacks will certainly impede the normalizing of relations.

The Indian government issued a report last week attempting to prove that the attacks originated in Pakistan. The precise nature of the attacks and Pakistan’s history of harboring terrorist groups is enough evidence for the Prime Minister. However, no final conclusion has been reached.

Most leaders in the international community echoed the responses of both President Bush and President-elect Obama who expressed their concern for the Indian people and their opposition to such acts of terrorism. These attacks on India’s financial capital resonate with memories of the attacks on September 11 and remind Americans of the seven attack-free years of protection they have enjoyed.

India now faces the task of rebuilding its morale. On Sunday, December 21 the country took an important step forward in recovering from the attack with the reopening of the Taj Mahal Hotel. This event symbolizes India’s recovery from the attacks and exemplifies its resilience.

Looking ahead, the Indian government intends to strengthen its internal security to prevent another assault on its people and visitors and hopes to bring to justice those who engineered and supported the attacks.

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