By Sultan M Hali
India has benefitted tremendously from the visit of US President Obama’s visit. Nearly all the items on the Indian wish list have been fulfilled except having Pakistan declared as a “Terrorist State”. Unfortunately, most of India’s projections have been based on lies and deception. The first leg of Obama’s tour, which cost the US taxpayer 200 million per day on security and other arrangements, was meant to win the sympathy vote for India and have the US chastise Pakistan, which is blamed by India to be responsible for the Mumbai attacks. India also wanted to divert President Obama and the world’s attention from its own atrocities in Indian-Held Kashmir. India made the US president to stay at the Taj Hotel, one of the two hotels targeted during the Mumbai attacks, visit the 26/11 memorial, and meet the survivors and relatives of the victims of the November 2008 dastardly attack.
Let us briefly examine the Mumbai attacks and judge the magnitude of the damage and its aftereffects. The 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks often referred to as 26/11 were more than 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India’s largest city, in which at least 173 people were killed and 308 wounded. Eight of the attacks occurred in South Mumbai: at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital (a women and children’s hospital), Nariman House, the Metro Cinema, and a lane behind the Times of India building and St. Xavier’s College. There was also an explosion at Mazagaon, in Mumbai’s port area, and in a taxi at Vile Parle. India used the attacks as a plea to suspend the Composite Dialogue process for peace with Pakistan, blaming Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and ISI. Taking a leaf from the US’ action against Afghanistan, post 9/11, India contemplated surgical strikes against selected targets in Pakistan. The very first probe mission in Pakistan territory by Indian Air Force fighter aircraft, was intercepted by PAF air defence fighters, sending a clear message to India to desist from any adventurism. Seething with anger, India has been blowing the 26/11 incident out of proportion to gain world sympathy. Even a casual observer will challenge the veracity of India’s claims regarding the attacks.
To start with, it is difficult to comprehend how ten youth, who have had no naval or maritime experience, can commandeer a fishing boat, hoodwink the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and other security agencies and reach the sensitive port of Mumbai, which is also in the vicinity of Trombay, a nuclear installation, totally unchecked. The10 men came ashore in inflatable speedboats at two locations in Colaba, armed to the teeth with automatic weapons and tons of explosives. They reportedly told local Marathi-speaking fishermen who asked them who they were to “mind their own business” before they split up and headed two different ways. The fishermen’s subsequent report to police received little response.
It is also unbelievable that the alleged group, who had never set foot in Mumbai before, could reach the ten locations, unaided only with the help of Google Earth. Moreover, of the various targets, the two hotels are five star premises, where owing to the presence of VIPs, security is normally so tight that even an unauthorized pin cannot enter the location what to talk of two or more suspicious persons with a huge cache of arms. Moreover, the first casualties of the attack were Haimant Karkare and his team from Mumbai’s anti-terrorist squad, who were investigating a serving Indian Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, who was found to be involved in the Malegaon bomb blast two months earlier and was also alleged to have been responsible for the Samjhota Express inferno, in which 59 Pakistanis had been killed.
Hardliner Hindu leaders had resented the investigation and subsequent arrest of Colonel Purohit and had issued death threats to Haimant Karkare. His widow refused to receive the gallantry award announced posthumously and a Union Minister for Minorities Affairs Abdul Rehman Antulay set off a flurry of outrage by demanding a probe into the killing of Mumbai Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, alleging a conspiracy by Hindu radicals connected to the Malegaon blast case. It is apparent that the Mumbai attack was a drama, staged, choreographed and executed by RAW with multiple aims. Firstly to eliminate Haimant Karkare, secondly to provide a pretext to terminate the peace talks between Pakistan and India and finally to blame Pakistan for the attack and launch retaliatory missions and have Pakistan declared a terrorist state and castigated by the international community.
On the other hand, only continues to occupy the Valley of Kashmir, but has launched a reign of terror, in which it has massacred more than a hundred thousand innocent Kashmiris, molested their women and destroyed their property, incarcerating its youth under trumped up charges. For President Obama to be misled by India that Kashmir is an integral part of India is pathetic for a world leader. Obama has pointed out that India does not condemn the undemocratic practice of Myanmar government, however despite receiving a petition signed by 4,500 Kashmiris, US and British parliamentarians, President Obama refused to become a mediator or even nudge India towards ceasing the atrocities in Kashmir and implement the UN Resolutions on the subject.
President Obama avoided a direct response on Kashmir, but underscored the American view that India and Pakistan must find a way to reduce tensions. His expression of solidarity with the victims of the Mumbai attacks carries the impression that 26/11 was a greater catastrophe than the ongoing tyranny and oppression of the Kashmiris. US and the world should see through the chaff of Indian propaganda and express solidarity with the Kashmiris and throw their weight behind resolving the Kashmir issue.