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Archive for July 2011

13 July 2011: Terror revisits Mumbai

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13th July 2011, a new date adds to the list of ‘terror’ dates. Mumbai rocked once again with bomb blasts. Three blasts between 6.54 p.m. and 7.05 p.m. occurred at Zaveri Bazaar in south Mumbai, the second at Kabutarkhana near the Dadar suburban railway station in central Mumbai and the third at Opera House, also in south Mumbai. 21 persons got killed and over 140 are injured. Many attacks have occurred on the 13th or 26th of a month and terror revisited India on July 13th after less than three years of 26/11 Mumbai attack. Blasts in Jaipur (2008), Delhi (2008), and Pune (2010) happened on 13th while as Mumbai terror attack (2008) and Ahmedabad blasts (2008) took place on 26th.

Mumbai, the financial capital of India, seems to be a favourite of terrorists. The past terror attacks in Mumbai since 1993–

  • 12th March 1993: Serial blasts at 13 places; 257 killed and 713 injured
  • 29th October 1993: Blast in Matunga station; 2 killed and 40 injured
  • 2nd December 2002: Blast in bus in Ghatkopar; 2 killed and 49 injured
  • 6th December 2002: Blast in Mumbai Central station; 25 injured
  • 27th January 2003: Blast near Vile Parle station; 30 injured
  • 13th March 2003: Blast in train in Mulund; 13 killed and over 80 injured
  • 25th August 2003: Twin blasts at Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazar; 55 killed and over 150 injured
  • 3rd July 2006: Blast in Ghatkopar, 1 killed
  • 11th July 2006: Blasts in 7 suburban trains; 189 killed and over 1000 injured
  • 26th – 29th November 2008: Serial explosions and indiscriminate firing across Mumbai; 166 killed and over 300 injured

No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the 13th July bomb blasts (at the time of writing this piece). Defence and security experts while taking modus operandi of the barbaric attack into consideration suspect that Indian Mujahideen, a local but Pakistan affiliated group, may have carried out the bomb blasts. However, there is no official confirmation yet as who is behind this terror act. It is known to everyone that Pakistan overtly or covertly funds terror activities in India. Recently, we had foreign-secretary level talks in Islamabad with our neighbouring country Pakistan and we are going to have next level of talks in Delhi in the forthcoming week. Peace process should continue. But are we expecting peace on the expense of lives of our country men? Peace and bombings can’t go together. How can there be peace when our cities are bombed? How can there be peace when our people die day after day due to terrorism? These questions need to be answered.

Our President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Home Minister and other political leaders condemned the bomb blasts. World leaders also strongly condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with the Government of India and the people. Condemnation has become a usual affair. Isn’t it? Every time there is a terror attack, bomb blast etc. our government condemns it and the opposition flays the government for not protecting the nation against such terror attacks. And the petty politics starts and goes on and on. Press conferences by our leaders, visits to the sites etc. follow after the attack. There is exchange of statements and then unfortunately after a month or a two we tend to forget about such attacks and only remember it on their respective anniversaries by paying tributes to the victims.

July 13 is a chilling reminder that people in our country are not safe, despite claims of our huge security establishment. A failure on part of our well established intelligence agencies, security systems etc. In our country, terror strikes happen one after the other. It is evident that there is wrong somewhere in our system. Our internal security system needs to be overhauled. It should be noted that after 9/11 attack there hasn’t been any terror attack in United States of America and that is commendable.

The terror attacks need to be foiled. How many more terror attacks we have to tolerate? Haven’t these attacks, blasts etc. become a part of our life unwillingly? Heart goes out for the victims and their families who were killed in bomb blasts. The loss is irreversible. At the end of the day, human suffers!

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Written by Varad Sharma

July 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Children of Conflict

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Kashmir and conflict are synonymous for two decades now, since the arrival of insurgency and gun culture. Every Kashmiri family has suffered in one way or the other. Thousands of lives have been lost – many young children, hundreds disappeared and there are widows, orphans and ‘half-widows’ (the women whose husbands have gone missing). Children born and raised during the turmoil (post 1990) are the most affected in the valley.

Children there have grown in the environment of terror attacks, bomb blasts, shootouts, encounters, strikes etc. Almost every child’s childhood was spent in and around gun. What will be the memorabilia of children of valley? Guns, bombs, shootouts, encounters, and what not!

During past 21 years, according to J&K State Government, 43460 people were killed in Kashmir in which 21323 are militants, 13226 civilians killed by militants, 3642 civilians killed by security forces, 5369 policemen killed by militants. According to the figures available with the government, there are 27,000 widows and 22000 children orphaned during militancy. But figures of independent sources are higher than those government figures. According to Prof Bashir Ahmad Dabla, head of the department of sociology, University of Kashmir, there are 32,400 widows and 97000 to 100000 orphans in the valley. As per Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, more than 70000 people have been killed in Kashmir since 1989; around 8000 people have disappeared; at least 25,000 children have been orphaned.

Apart from terror attacks, strike calls by separatist elements in the valley have an effect on the life in Kashmir and especially the education of children. The separatist elements instigated the protest during summer of 2010 which claimed the lives of over 110 people and many a time security forces negligence was also to be blamed. Stones became the instrument of protest. And worst was the death of children in the anti-state protests. What does a 10-12 year old child know about so called Azaadi? These days we have more of strike calls, shutdown and less of terror activities. Fake encounters have also happened in the valley, which add to the problem and breeds more hatred against the state and security forces in particular.

Meanwhile, whenever there is mention of children who are affected by turmoil, we tend to forget children of an ethnic community of Kashmiri Pandits who are living in exile for more than two decades. Many children left the valley as toddlers due to the conflict in the valley and many were born in an unknown land away from their home – Kashmir. There is a ‘disconnect’ between the child and his/her motherland.

Who is accountable for the affliction of the children of Kashmir? Who is responsible for the deaths, killings of young innocent children? Who is accountable for the children who were forced to live away from their homeland? I would hold everyone responsible – terrorists, politicians, separatists, civil society, and the state administration. Terrorists for killing young innocents and also for the exodus of KP children, politicians for caring about their own interests only, civil society for not being effective in preventing such incidents and the state administration for not taking necessary and preventive measures.

And the saga of ‘children of conflict’ always brings conflict in our mind!

Written by Varad Sharma

July 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Kashmir

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