OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.

In no modern democracy will a Government or a Prime Minister be allowed to get away with this kind of delinquency in response to the worst terrorist attack on its soil

The first anniversary of the Mumbai commuter train serial bomb blasts on July 11th, 2006, is just a few days away. The stark reality staring us in the face is that not one individual has been brough to justice or held accountable to date. Offstumped had earlier recounted the first 30 days of investigation ensuing the blasts. It is sobering to retrace the last 11 months.

September 2006 saw 37 killed in the Malegaon blasts. The investigations into Malegaon have hit a dead end as well. September also saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describe Pakistan as a victim or terror on his way from Brazil to a smoke filled room in Havana from which emerged the fig leaf of an excuse in response to the Mumbai Blasts – The India Pakistan Anti-Terrorism Institutional Mechanism. September was also the month where the Prime Minister told the Left that War was not an option, and pleaded helplessness saying this was the best he could get under the circumstances.

October 2006 was an interesting month. The investigations suddenly got active much to the discomfort of the the Prime Minister who seemed to have written off taking any action.

On October 1st The Hindu reported a Hyderabad connection to the 7/11 blasts.

 On October 2nd the Mumbai police raised the heckles of the Manmohan Singh UPA Government. The Prime Minister was away in South Africa enjoying the sun when the Mumbai Police Commissioner A.N. Roy declared that they have concluded from their investigations into the July 11 serial train blasts that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) conceived the terror attack.

Mr. Roy said the Mumbai Police and the Anti-Terrorist Squad solved the conspiracy of the terror attack Fifteen people were arrested, of whom 12 were directly involved in the blasts. The Mumbai police also identified as principal conspirator a top functionary of the LeT, Azam Cheema, who also runs a terrorist training camp at Bawahalpur in Pakistan.

The comedy that played out in October needs to be appreciated in its entirety.

So here you have the Mumbai Police accusing Pakistan for 7-11 and the UPA Government rudely awakened from its slumber was fumbling for a formal response. It was neither the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who was partying away in South Africa nor the walking zombie of a Home Minister Shivraj Patil who gave a formal response or call. It was not even the Home Secretary.

It was left to the soon to be Foreign Secretary and then High Commissioner to Pakistan  Shiv Shankar Menon to issue the first formal response to the Mumbai Police announcement.

“This is something that we will certainly take up with the government of Pakistan and we will judge them not by immediate reactions or verbal statements, by what they actually do about terrorism,” said Mr Menon .

 The meeting he was referring to was expected to work out the contours of the joint anti-terrorism mechanism that has become the subject of media speculation and widespread criticism by the intelligence establishment and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP.

Belatedly on October 3rd an embarassed Manmohan Singh reluctantly issued a statement on-board his flight back to New Delhi, that

India will “test the waters” of the joint mechanism it has agreed to with Pakistan by sharing the evidence of the Mumbai train blasts…. Pakistan will have to walk the talk

The Pakistan Foreign Office meanwhile promptly informs us that it has not received any formal communication from Delhi, verbal or written, through any channel regarding Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the July 11 Mumbai blasts.

By October 6th the farce playing out in New Delhi and Islamabad gets even hilarious.

“India should communicate with Pakistan by having direct contact instead of talking about the Mumbai train blasts in the public,” US Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan C Crocker was quoted as saying in the media

On October 7th as if heeding to Ryan Crocker’s suggestion but misdirecting its pleas, the Manmohan Singh Government again through a bureaucrat informs us of the following

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will raise with the leadership of Britain and the European Union (EU) next week ….”We will certainly raise it (issue of terrorism). We will be discussing all issues, which include our recent experiences as victim of terrorism,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon

On October 10th Manmohan Singh finally gets the message and issues this statement

Addressing a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair after their 90-minute talks, he said India will provide “credible evidence” to Pakistan regarding the July 11 Mumbai blasts, taking advantage of Islamabad’s offer of cooperating in curbing terrorism.

Notice the emphasing on “taking advantage of the join terrorism mechanism”.

Well so the question Offstumped is posing to Manmohan Singh is – when did you actually take advantage ?

Well how could he, his bureaucrats had queered the pitch for him. By October 23rd the National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan had pretty much poured water on the Mumbai Police’s October 1st revealations.

He called the evidence “pretty good” but “not clinching”.

The farce cannot be complete without the verbal gymnastics of Abhishek Manu Singhvi. So here he is trying to salvage the public embarassment on October 24th

that Mr Narayanan had said it should be left to the court to decide whether the proof was good enough.

There you have it folks the mindset of the Congress which has the uncanny acumen to bring the most heinous terrorist attack on par with any contentious political issue the nation faces. Let the courts decide. Imagine President Bush on Sept 25th saying that to the American Nation, Let the Courts decide ?

On November 10th the PTI informs us that

India will use next week’s Foreign Secretary-level talks to put Pakistan to “test” by giving it “certain” part of the “clinching” evidence it has with regard to involvement of “elements” based there in July 11 Mumbai blasts and other terror acts in the country

The reference was to Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan meeting on November 14-15.

The farce continues through November.

The PTI on Nov 15th once again dutifully informs us that
 Pakistan was given information on cross-border links relating to terror incidents in India but the Mumbai blasts did not figure because the chargesheet is yet to be filed in court.

So between Nov 10th and 15th the Government found another fig leaf of an excude to not share evidence.

However in what was touted as the UPA Government’s biggest Anti-Terrorism achievement we were informed in the same release by PTI that

 a three-member anti-terror mechanism to be headed by K C Singh, Additional Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry and his Pakistani counterpart Tariq Osman Haider was setup

The mechanism will hold its first meeting next month. “We hope the mechanism makes progress,” Menon told reporters

So did the mechanism meet the next month to discuss July 11th ?

well not really, so when exactly did the mechanism meet for the first time.

It was not in December, not in January not even in February. A full 4 months later the mechanism met in March for the first time.

The PTI once again dutifully informs us

The India-Pakistan Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism, decided at a summit meeting in Havana in September last, will hold its first meeting in Islamabad on March 6.

Very important to note how the UPA soft pedalled taking any action on 7-11 and eventually sweeping it under the carpet. Remember the Mechanism was touted as the forum in which 7-11 will be taken up with Pakistan and tested if it will walk the talk.

So what happened ?

The day before the Foreign Ministry downplayed expectations

senior officials said India did not see the ATM as an “episodic” forum

They confirmed that the February 19 firebombing of the Samjhauta Express would figure in the talks with the Pakistani side.

No reference to Mumbai or 7-11.

In fact the extent to which Samjhauta bombing hijacked the ATM and focus away from Mumbai can be appreciated from the 21st Feb 2007 joint press conference between Pranab Mukherjee and Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri.

I have no doubt that the meeting of the anti-terror mechanism which is supposed to meet in Islamabad will take cognizance of this.

That was Kasuri on the Samjhauta blasts.

But March 13th the famed first day of the India Pakistan Joint Anti-Terrorism Institutional Mechanism should go down in history as the most comic day when the role reversal Manmohan Singh initiated in Sept 2006 came a full circle. Manmohan Singh then declared Pakistan a terror victim and on March 13th he handed Pakistan a forum to institutionalize it.

Islamabad’s demand that New Delhi share intelligence with it about the terrorist explosions on the Samjhota Express would put to test for the first time India’s intentions whether it was serious about implementing the “India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism” to remove the concerns of both countries.

That was pretty much it. The ghosts of 7-11 Mumbai have been buried for good. With the Samjhauta blasts the Anti-Terrorism Mechanism has been given sidelined as well. The victims and their next of kin of 7-11 awat justice

Offstumped Bottomline: In no modern democracy will a Government or a Prime Minister  be allowed to get away with this kind of delinquency but in India.

In response to the worst terrorist attack on its soil Manmohan Singh has not bothered to come back to the Nation and report where the investigation stands, where the trial stands, what concrete steps his government has taken and when it intends to bring to justice those responsible.

We should not forget, we should not forgive.



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