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Mumbai massacre masterminds yet to face punishment

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, ISI, Pakistan, Mumbai massacre, Taj Mahal Hotel, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Muslims

Counterterrorism

Mumbai massacre masterminds yet to face punishment

However, none of the masterminds of Mumbai massacre have been brought to justice up to now; most of them are thriving in Pakistan. All cases against the internationally designated terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed were quashed by the Lahore High Court in October 2009, and he remains an influential religious leader in Pakistan, with the backing of the ISI and Pakistani Army. Writes Ashlyn Davis

On November 26, 2008, ten heavily armed Islamic jihad terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Taiba organization stormed into the iconic Taj Mahal hotel in India’s financial capital, Mumbai. At around 9:38 PM, while making their way through the lobby with their AK-47s, grenades and ammunition, Abdul Rehman Bada and Abu Ali shot down anyone and everyone they saw.

Shoib and Umer entered the hotel through its La-Pat door and started firing at guests by the poolside. Four foreigners and security official Ravindra Kumar, along with his Labrador retriever, became their immediate victims. Mumbai police surrounded the Taj by midnight; hotel staff had huddled the guests in small rooms. The central dome of the Taj was bombed, leading to a massive fire by 1 AM.

Two hours later, the army and firemen arrived at the site, but the attack continued for three days. At 6:30 AM on November 27, a 200-strong battalion of commandos arrived from New Delhi to take charge of the situation. The evacuation took place in batches. At 10:30 AM, a fresh round of gunfire was reported from the hotel; at 4:40 PM, these Muslims set a fourth-floor room ablaze. Ten grenade explosions took place between 2:53 PM and 3:59 PM on November 28, followed by another round of firing and explosions at 7:30 PM. After a nonstop ordeal lasting three days, the commandos declared that the establishment was cleared of the terrorists at 8 AM on Saturday, November 29.

There were 166 casualties, including six Americans. Over 300 people sustained serious injuries. It was a tough battle, and the shabby live coverage from the irresponsible media houses, giving away sensitive information about the rescue operations to the terrorists on live TV, made it tougher. India’s version of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, then-Maharashtra Home Minister Raosaheb Ramrao Patil, downplayed the Islamic jihad terror attack with his infamous quote, “Bade bade deshon mein chhote cheez hote rehte hai” (Small things happen in big countries). This was one of the major jihad terror attacks on the city after the 1993 Bombay bombings, and it was evident from the planning and execution of the attack that it was the work of Islamic terror organizations backed by Pakistan and nurturing immense hatred for India’s very existence.

Meanwhile, the “secular” government and the sinister media ecosystem denied, repeatedly and vehemently, the involvement of any Islamic elements in this attack. In order to protect Pakistan, they tried to blame it on India’s nonexistent “right-wing” and painted it as an act of “Hindu terror.” Within a month of the Pakistani terrorists’ orchestrated attacks, an Indian Muslim author, Aziz Burney published a book, 26/11: RSS ka shadyantra (“26/11: Conspiracy of the RSS”). The RSS is a Hindu volunteer organization that is detested with unparalleled passion by Muslims in India, whether they opt to serve the cause of jihad with the gun or with the pen.

The book blaming the Hindu organization for the attack was publicized by Digvijay Singh, an important politician of the “secular” (that is, anti-Hindu) political party The Indian National Congress. The presence of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt at the book launch helped promulgate the sinister narrative through the movie-crazy Indian population.

The conspiracy to blame the Hindus for the 26/11 Mumbai massacre was hatched even before the attacks happened. The attackers carried fake ID cards and wore kalavas, a Hindu ceremonial thread, on their wrists. Had it not been for the brave unarmed policeman Tukaram Omble, who took over 40 bullets from an AK-47 at point-blank range but still manage to capture Ajmal Kasab alive, Islamic apologists would have successfully passed the attack as a Hindu ploy.

Kasab, with a Hindu religious thread around his wrist, confessed that all the jihadis including him were trained and propelled by Pakistan’s ISI and Army. Humanitarians wanted the Indian government to go easy on the “innocent misled” then-21-year-old jihadi, but Kasab was sentenced to death by the Bombay High Court and executed on November 21, 2012 after the president rejected his petition for mercy.

However, none of the masterminds of this massacre have been brought to justice up to now; most of them are thriving in Pakistan. All cases against the internationally designated terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed were quashed by the Lahore High Court in October 2009, and he remains an influential religious leader in Pakistan, with the backing of the ISI and Pakistani Army. The arrest of a key person involved in the attacks, Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, was just eyewash; he was released in 2015. Major Iqbal continues to serve as the ISI. Sajid Mir and Abu Qahafa appear to be living freely in Pakistan. David Headley, an American of Pakistani origin, is serving a 35-year prison sentence in the US, and perhaps is the only culprit who has been brought to justice.

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