Analysis

Mumbai attack: A New Twist

Credit must be given to parents of three young couples killed in 26/11 Mumbai blasts for not being taken for a ride by primarily only external elements — “Pakistan sponsored” – being blamed for the terror attack. Indeed, it is amazing that despite being aware of the “terror-threat,” Taj and Oberoi-Trident hotels had not paid adequate attention to enhancing their security system. Irrespective of whether they receive a threat or not, ahead of key political leaders’ stay in any hotel, utmost attention is paid to ensure that it is safe and secure. Besides, till these politicians stay in the hotel is over, the security system remains tight and vigilant to prevent entry of any suspect element in and around the premises. It may be reiterated, security system is enhanced, irrespective of whether the hotel authorities receive a threat or not. If they do receive a threat, the hotels are expected to inform the politicians about the same for two reasons. One, the politicians may on their part take steps to enhance their security. Secondly, they have the option of cancelling their visit and/or stay at the hotel which has received the terror-theat.

In this context, it is indeed stunning that despite having received terror-threats, the Mumbai hotels apparently neglected security at their respective premises. One is compelled to wonder as to what prompted the hotel-authorities to pay no attention to lives of the people they were putting to risk by simply ignoring the terror-threats. If they did not have resources to increase security at their hotels, they could have at least spread a word about the terror-threat. They did not. They talked about having received the terror-threat only after so many lives had been lost in the Mumbai-terror strikes targeting the two hotels.  Why? Why did they remain so passive towards number of lives that they were virtually handing over to terrorists by ignoring their threat?

Considering that hype is usually raised, with action being taken to stage of targeting innocent Muslims as “suspect terrorists,” even killing them, without substantial proof and/or threat, it is indeed amazing that actual threats in Mumbai were virtually ignored. Irrespective of which country, group and/or persons were responsible for the Mumbai-strikes, the fact that hotels had been warned about the same cannot be ignored. Undeniably, criminals and/or terrorists may strike as and when they want to, targeting numerous people at different places. Definitely, such criminals and/or terrorists are bound to face the needed punishment. But, when and if they issue threat to hotels, the latter are naturally expected to enhance their security and also inform the concerned authorities and even hotel occupants about the same. Had they did, perhaps, the terrorists may not have had even the opportunity to strike at the two hotels.

Sadly, despite being aware of the terror-threats, by virtually ignoring the same, the hotel authorities put at risk the lives of all those who had opted to stay at the hotel. This aspect cannot be ignored by holding only elements, allegedly supported by Pakistan-based “Islamic” groups, as responsible for the Mumbai-strikes. One cannot ignore negligence displayed by coastal, national and hotel authorities by not being on guard for the entry of suspected terrorists from Pakistan. It is fairly well-known, that external elements are bound to use religious label- particularly that of Islam- to target Indian people and/or territory. What is disturbing is that in Mumbai-case, the hotel authorities apparently assumed, their failure to take adequate action for protection of hotel occupants would be ignored simply because the government projected Pakistan-based elements as responsible for the same.

True, the terrorists cannot be spared for carrying out the terror-strikes. But neither can the hotel authorities be spared for not having paid serious attention to terror-threats. Even if they had not received the threats, all hotels are expected to remain alert about who enters their premises. The latter point is supported by the sudden enhancement in security measures at virtually all prominent hotels after the Mumbai-blasts. Neither of these hotels wants Mumbai-like terrorist-strike to take place at their premises. They have, it may be noted, upgraded their security despite not having received any threat of a terrorist strike. This makes one all the more perturbed about why didn’t the Mumbai hotels upgrade their security system despite having received the threat?

One must compliment the petitioners who have appealed to the Supreme Court on Taj and Oberoi-Trident hotels having ignored the terror-threat, neglected security and for not having paid compensation to families of all the guests in the terror attack. There is another angle to the relatives’ move that must not be ignored. They have not allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the hype raised over Muslim terrorists, allegedly supported by Pakistan, being responsible for the strikes. Irrespective of what the terrorists’ religion and/or nationality be, the petitioners want an explanation on the security lapse displayed by the hotels. They have also demanded compensation for death of their relatives due to hotels’ negligence.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2010 on page no. 18

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