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From financial capital to terror capital: Mumbai as bad as Karachi, Kabul

India’s financial capital, after the repeated attacks, is inching close to wartorn Kabul where 520 people have died and 1,836 wounded in the same period.

Updated: Jul 15, 2011, 11.57 AM IST
(This story originally appeared in on Jul 15, 2011)
MUMBAI: That Mumbai has emerged as the country’s ‘terror capital’ is evident . But what shocks is the fact that the situation here is nearly as bad as in Kabul or Karachi, cities in countries known as terror hotbeds. As many as 390 Mumbaikars have died and 1,349 wounded in terror strikes since 2005, the US government’s Worldwide Incidents Tracking System says. Karachi lost 500 citizens to terror attacks during the same period and 1,103 were injured.

India’s financial capital, after the repeated attacks, is inching close to wartorn Kabul where 520 people have died and 1,836 wounded in the same period. The Maharashtra ATS in fact pegs casualties in Mumbai much higher. The Maximum City has bled a lot more than other metros. Delhi’s terror toll stands at 97 and Bangalore’s at three since 2005. ATS records show that Mumbai’s terror casualties are nearly five times as many as Delhi. But, only 15 terrorists have been killed and four convicted in Maharashtra in the last decade.

It’s time to learn a few lessons from London or New York which have spruced up their security after their terror tragedies. London suffered two serial bombings of its underground network in 2005. More than 50 people died and 701 injured. The city has largely curbed the terror menace. New York has had no casualties, despite six terror-related incidents since 9/11.

But action in Mumbai is still wanting. Two-and-a-half years after 26/11, there have been no preventive detention of suspects who are part of sleeper cells. Asked why the police did not have an strategy to pre-empt terror collaborators, an officer replied, “On what charges should we book them?” A former RAW official said Mumbai remained a target because of its ‘financial status’. “A lot of publicity is given to such attacks. To prevent such attacks , a public-police relationship and a good police set up is a must.’’

But, the state police have had an abysmally low strike rate against terrorists , killing only 15 of them in the last decade. Encounters after all blasts between 2003 and 2007 have followed a script — ‘LeT operatives have been shot and automatic rifles and ammunition recovered from a Maruti 800. Take the case of Mohd Ali alias Osama. A Faisalabad resident, he was gunned down by ATS in a deserted Antop Hill building. After three blasts in 2002-03, Andheri crime intelligence unit officers led by now-disgraced Pradip Sharma shot three alleged terrorists near Goregaon flyover on March 29, 2003.

Those killed were identified as Abu Sultan (suspected to be LeT’s southern India commander ), Iqbal Vani, a Srinagar resident and Abu Javed. Sultan and Javed were Lahore residents. Police seized an AK-56, Rs 5 lakh, timers, switches, detonators and their Maruti-800 . They were behind the Ghatkopar blast, the police said.
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