My esteemed friend Chris Van Vechten posted this article recently discussing the need for Indians to carry guns and this might have somehow prevented the tragedy in Mumbai.
First off, I never predicted any sort of terrorist activity was going to happen. In fact, I wrote “This is the first time I have actually been a little scared for both my life and for something serious happening in Kerala. I don’t think something is going to happen. But something might. The local police are really cracking down on the different groups. It is quite stunning to much of the local population. There is very little rivalry in Kochi like there is in the North.”
The people that were arrested in Kerala have two different fundamentalist strains. Those who are supporting the insurgency by the Muslims in Indian−Administered Kashmir and the Hindu nationalists who-at the cost of being a little non-pc−want their culture raised above all else. The people in Kerala are mainly small time agitators with minimal connections to the major planning areas that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai received in Pakistani-Administered Kashmir.
There is a second insurgency being waged in India, in the Northeast of the country, where many Bengalis want greater autonomy. That was the jumping off point of my original post. Please note, that those active in the Northeast have very little in common, and presumably, little contact with those active in Kashmir.
Finally, Sri Lanka is nearing the end of its Civil War with the Tamil Tigers. India’s Tamil Nadu, a state on the southeast corner of the country, obviously has a large Tamil population. More importantly, Tamil is a very important race, culture and language. There is a lot of ill will within Tamil Nadu towards the Sri Lankan governments’ rather violence campaign to eradicate the Tigers (the Tigers themselves are no angels either).
These are all different. Also, you have native Hindus who have become even more violent towards other cultures at the suppression of Hindu superiority. Raj Thackeray and his ridiculous attacks on North Indians. There is a lot of conflict.
Chris argues that “like America’s pre-wire taps 9/11, practically everyone in India’s intelligence community knew something was coming.” This is simply wrong. There is evidence now being reported in the local media that there were rumors of some sort of attack at Western frequented places in Mumbai, and more specifically the train station, but those rumors died down in September. These reports surface all the time. Probably because there are always new plots being hatched and then shut down.
More importantly Chris wrongly asserts that the cops only had bamboo sticks. Not true. The biggest problem was the complete lack of infrastructure for most of the soldiers and the community. The fire trucks took three hours to get to the Taj and start working on the fires. Many of the police officers have bolt action rifles. In one security camera scene being replayed endlessly here in India, a police officer at the train station had a good shot at one of the terrorists. However, his gun jammed. The terrorists saw him and sprayed bullets at him, but he escaped. They had guns. They didn’t work.