India went through its own 9/11 yesterday when Mumbai,
the country's financial capital was turned into a landscape of
carnage and mayhem by the worst terrorist attack encountered by
Over 100 people were killed and hundreds more wounded when a
group of militants sprayed the city of Mumbai with gunfire while
laying seige to the landmark Taj Hotel holding its guests
hostage and also taking over other buildings including the
Trident Hotel with their occupants.
It was a night and morning of bloody mayhem and a stunned
world watched aghast as footage of the horror was beamed to
their homes live over satellite news channels. The terrorists
virtually took over Mumbai, the epicentre of the nation's
financial power. It was certainly the biggest ever terrorist
attack carried out in India which was ill prepared for it
according to commentators.
There were many parallels with the September 11 attack on the
New York World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Here too the
targets were famous landmarks, the sprawling Taj Hotel in Mumbai
being a treasured monument of Mumbai and a gateway to the city
in more ways than one, with the landmark Gateway to India
A shadowy islamic militant group claimed responsibility for
the attack and demanded that all its members held in Indian
prions be released in exchange for the hostages. At the time of
writing gun battles were still on and the hotels sealed off,
although Security Forces managed to secure the release of some
Those watching footage of the unfolding drama on CNN or NDTV
would have no doubt been awestruck by audacity of the attack.
The hostage drama, the frantic firefighting to the douse flames
atop vital city landmarks, the shootout between police and the
militants, the accompanying mayhem and anarchy were chilling.
This brazen act of terrorism would no doubt be roundly
condemned by world leaders. It is time however they move away
from this ritual condemnation and take concrete measures to deal
with the scourge that is growing in proportion with each passing
The carefully coordinated attack with minute planning goes to
demonstrate the sophistication gained by terrorists who are
getting bolder and bolder to act with impunity. There is
therefore an urgent need for world leaders to act fast to
counter the menace.
Any more dilly dallying could only embolden the forces of
evil to expand their activities. World conferences for
combatting terrorism and other such fora are of no use in the
absence of follow up action. The Mumbai attack has shown the
world that terrorism is very much alive and all pervasive and
that no country can escape its ill effects.
Sri Lanka too would feel the reverberations of the Mumbai
attack being a country that is no stranger to terrorist attacks.
There are lessons from this attack for the Lankan security
establishment - that of being alert and extra vigilant and above
all properly equipped to deal with such attacks.
This attack on the heart of India may also harden the
attitude against terrorism by the Indian Central Government
which would be in Sri Lanka's favour. It would leave the field
open to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to continue with his
military offensive against terrorists. This would lead to
enhanced joint action and cooperation to stamp out terrorism. It
would augur well for Sri Lanka now on the threshold of
witnessing the total annihilation of the LTTE.
India is bound to take seriously the threat of transnational
terrorism following the Mumbai carnage and step up
anti-terrorism cooperation with Sri Lanka and other countries.
Some positives may yet emerge from the Mumbai ruins that would
spell doom for terrorists everywhere.
As the saying goes, terrorism anywhere is a threat to peace
everywhere. This is why terrorism should not be looked as a
phenomenon limited to South Asia and a few other countries. It
is an international phenomenon, with terrorists helping out and
learning from, each other. Thus international cooperation
including intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism operations
is vital to crush terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
India does have the resolve to put this dark chapter behind
to fight terrorism. Sri Lankans are with Indians at this gloomy
hour. We feel your pain and anguish as we have been there
ourselves and together, as South Asians, we should not let
terror rule our lives.