Mumbai terrorist attack : its impact in Nepal
Triple bomb blasts rocked three busiest and most crowded areas of Mumbai, financial capital of India on the evening rush hour of July 13, 2011. 19 people were killed on the spot and more than 130 injured. 7 people have succumbed to death recently, who were said to be injured. There was a large hue and cry among those who were survived and injured, just after the blast. Blood covered bodies lay on the street and people hugged and wept. Others carried the wounded to taxis to take to the hospital. In connection to this incident, Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi just after the incident that this was a coordinated attack by terrorists. In the mean time, the administration put entire city of Metropolitan Mumbai on high alert to maintain security.
These events have impacted security concern in Nepal in connection to the ramification of the serial blasts in Mumbai. It was envisaged that Mumbai terrorist could cross the border and may hide in Nepal. It is because that India and Nepal has an open border regime. There are some ungoverned border spaces between two nations as well. So the terrorists and unwanted element could transit from one country to another easily.
In connection to Mumbai blasts, an emergency meeting of the central security committee was held in Singha Durbar, Kathmandu. Nepal government directed to the security agencies to keep vigil on suspects in Nepal-India border and Tribhuvan International Airport. It was also instructed to ensure that the terrorists involved in Mumbai attacks may not use Nepal as their shelter and transit point. To implement the directives, special security arrangements were made along the porous borders and the only international airport.
This proves that large scale incidents in India have undoubted affects on Nepal. Generally, terrorists create havoc in India and they flee into the Nepali territory and vice versa. This is largely due to the fact that there is an open border between two nations.
Heart pinching attack
It is really a shock that triple bombings were the worst terror attack in three locations of Mumbai within a duration of ten minutes. The first blast struck the crowded bustling Jhaveri Bazar, which is famous for the trading of wholesale gold and jewelry market. A minute later, a second blast hit the busy business district of Opera House, which is called ‘Diamond Hub’ for India’s prosperous diamond exporter. This is also the tourist destination of Mumbai. After ten minutes, the third bomb exploded in the crowded neighborhood of Dadar Kabutar Khana (Pigeon House) junction, where businessmen on their way to the railway station often stop to feed grain to the pigeons.
It was presumed that the bombs were made of ammonium nitrate, an ingredient for fertilizer commonly used in improvised devices with electronic detonators. The first bomb was planted along the road under an umbrella and the second one exploded in a scooter motorbike, and the third one was kept on the roof of a bus stop.
No radical organization has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the Indian government has laid suspicions on the Indian Mujahideen (IM), an underground terrorist group sworn to avenge the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in the neighboring State of Gujarat. On the other hand, India thinks that a remote possibility is the Pakistan-based separatist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, known for its sympathies for al-Qaeda; since LeT has been providing ideological and physical training to the IM for some years.
In response to the incident, some of the countries consoled India on the loss of life of Indian people and called to unite against terrorism. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State expressed ‘I believe it is more important than we stand with India, deepen our partnership, and reaffirm our commitment to the shared struggle against terrorism.’ Similarly, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei expressed that ‘China condemns the attack. We are willing to work together with the international community that includes India to combat terrorism.’
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed their deepest sympathies to the Indian leadership on the loss of lives, injuries and damages to property in Mumbai. Likewise, President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal sent messages to their Indian counterparts describing the blasts as a cowardly act of terrorism. It says ‘Nepal condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations.’
It is to be noted that those who expressed condolences, they have used the word ‘terrorist.’ It denotes that the perpetrators disregard for national boundaries. So it has to call for strengthening border management to obstruct the terrorists.
Chronology of attacks
This is not the first time that Mumbai has to tolerate such bomb attacks. The November 26-29, 2008 LeT gunmen attacks on two hotels, railway station and Jewish center of Mumbai killed 195 people and 3 hundred 27 were injured. Ten militants laid siege to India’s financial capital for sixty hours and paralyzed the city. Similarly, serial explosions blasted at a time in seven railway stations on July 11, 2006 killed 209 persons and seven hundred wounded. On August 25, 2003, 50 persons died and 244 injured at the explosion in Gateway of India and Jhaveri Bazar area. There were also similar type of explosions and bomb attack in thirteen places around Mumbai Metropolis on March 12, 1993 by Dawood Ibrahim gang. As a result, 257 people risked fatalities and 1100 were injured in the incident. Numerous attacks of smaller scale have occurred in Mumbai too.
Why Mumbai is targeted?
It is well known that Mumbai is the financial capital of India. Not only the people of India, but also the people of the other side of the globe say that Mumbai is the heart of Indian economy and richest city of the nation. It is the palpitation of the progress of India. Some other says, Mumbai is the lifeline of India and it is like a golden bird.
On the other hand, large number of foreigners stays there and Mumbai is home to several powerful organized criminal gangs that run extortion, money laundering and smuggling rackets. There are active real estate and in financing and distributing Bollywood films as well.
India has long been under the threat of militant attacks by a variety of groups including separatists in the north-east Hindu nationalists and Islamists. The Maoist rebels control vast swathes of India’s countryside, the so called ‘Red Corridor.’ The Indian Mujahideen is described by global intelligence firm to carry out low to medium intensity attacks. These groups are eyeing Mumbai as their priority. If Mumbai cracks down, it will affect the economy of entire nation. So Mumbai is soft targeted by the terrorists.
Regulation of border
There is an open border regime between Nepal and India. People of both nations can cross the international boundary without any interrogation. Terrorists and unwanted element may cross the border in a disguised manner as Indian or Nepali inhabitants; as their face, attire, posture and behavior resemble. It has enhanced the cross-border crimes and illegal infiltration year after year.
It is interesting to mention that suspected criminals of 1993 Mumbai bomb attack, Salim Abdul Gani Gazi (alias Asfak Ahmed Shah) and Riyaz Khatri (alias Riyaz Ahmed Lone) were arrested by Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Crime Division in Thamel on September 4, 2008. The Police handed them over to the Indian government on the request of the National Central Bureau (NCB) Interpol, India. The duo happened to be staying in Kathmandu for 12 years in the guise of a manpower agent and an employee at a handicraft store in the city. They would often travel to Dubai and Saudi Arabia under assumed names. This was possible largely, because of the porous border. So the time has come to adopt some alternative measures to replace the existing system, to maintain security in both the nations.
The first alternative measure may be to introduce the identity card system that has to be produced while crossing the international border. Next alternative will be fencing the frontier with 180 exit/entry points. In this context, Indian State of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has demanded that the Indo-Nepal border should be properly fenced to check for illegal infiltration, smuggling of narcotics, fake currency and human trafficking, criminal and other related activities from across the Nepal as well as home grown Red-extremism’ (Times of India, February 4, 2011). It is imminent, with such incidents, that the Nepal-India border be regulated to at least to introduce ID card system and increase the number of Armed Police Force in order to block unwanted people that could not affect Nepal by such incidents occurred in Indian cities.