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Whistling in the wind: Revisiting the ghosts of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts
Never probably since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima had so many people lost their lives in such a short span of time like on 12th of March 1993 in Mumbai (Bombay).

Described till now as India's 9/11 moment, the Mumbai blasts were an unprecedented act of terror; a terror act which however had genuine causes. To put it simply, it arose as SH Zaidi, veteran investigative journalist has described in his book 'Black Friday' from the communal pogroms initiated against Muslims by Hindu mobs. That of course is not to condone what happened but to put it in its proper context, without which what ensued would only appear as madness.

One only wishes that what caused those riots should also have been discussed in a book like this. These blasts are also significant in a way that they set the stage for further terrorist outrages in the same city in 2008 and more recently in 2011.

What renders this terror incident without parallels is that it was originally intended according to the author as part of a string of attacks against major Indian cities which however didn't materialize owing to poor logistics, he says. One wonders for how long India will continue to be lucky in that respect for as the subsequent terror strikes in Mumbai have shown this would not be a one time outrage.

To be fair to those who indulge or perpetrate terror as an instrument of state policy or who shield its perpetrators from justice, cannot but experience a blowback effect. This is amply evident in the terror incidents in Pakistan and to a lesser extent in China.

However, be that as it may, it's also pertinent to look at the context in which such incidents occur. Social polarization brought on by competitive communalism creates a favorable environment for such incidents. By far attention has only been focused till now on communalism pursued by the majority community. This conveniently is dubbed as communalism or fascism.

What is however conveniently ignored is that such communalism is in many respects a response to minority communalism. The relevant aspect is not one of nomenclature, whether communalists should be called as communalists or as fascists which ignore that fascists are often also communalists, as were the Nazis. This is as relevant as the response to terror; where the west has often been accused of adopting double standards or of subordinating anti-terror measures to corporate interests as Noam Chomsky has alleged in his book 'Failed States.' One of the characteristics of such states Chomsky says is that they are unable or unwilling to provide their citizens with sufficient protection against terror. Despite that it must be acknowledged that there can be no effective counter to random terror attacks except to address its causes and thereby remove factors favorable to lead people or groups to launch such attacks.

In the south Asian context however what is important is that social polarization marked by a sharp communal divide is to be seen in many parts of northern India from places as diverse as Kashmir, Gujarat and UP apart from of course Maharashtra as a major causative factor for such incidents.

In some places this also has an underworld nexus such as the Mumbai blasts though the involvement of some of its major figures is only based on circumstantial evidence. In a context where Indians believe Pakistan has given a quiet burial to the 26/11 terror trials its worthwhile to note that ultimately for a case of whatever nature to stand up in court it must be based on irrefutable evidence and not something that is inconclusive or speculative.

It's a different matter of course whether the Pakistani authorities have at all the political will to prosecute something of which they are accused of being the mastermind. Be that as it may, what we should also bear in mind is that criminality, of which terror attacks are a manifestation, is as old as mankind, only its nature and scale has changed with globalization.

Eternal vigilance might be the price of security but it's unlikely to be fool proof for tackling what can only be described as a social malaise. It also shows that we continue to live with the aftereffects of the partition of 1947 in south Asia and that those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it.

Nevertheless, one would like to congratulate the tireless investigators and resilient citizens in their endeavor for normalcy amid chaos. It's important to realize also that people have the right to be different from one another. Unfortunately those believing in this simple truth are today left whistling in the wind…

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