Home » Mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack is still at large

Mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack is still at large

by Raju Vernekar
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By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, Nov 26

While 11 years have passed by after deadly 26 November 2018 Mumbai terrorists attack, in which 166 people (including 19 security personnel and a few foreigners) were killed and nearly 300 persons were injured, the suspected mastermind of the attacks, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is still at large.
Pakistan security agencies had claimed to have arrested Lakhvi, on 8 December 2008, after carrying out raids on “Jamaat-ud-Dawa” offices across Pakistan. The Islamabad-based Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) holding trial of Lakhavi and other accused arrested in the case, granted the post-arrest bail to Lakhvi and set him free on December 18, 2014. However Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) filed an appeal in the Islamabad High Court  seeking cancellation of the bail. However Lakhvi is out of jail and has been allegedly collecting donations to fund the LeT’s terror activities.
Another accused Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana was arrested in 2009 on the charges of plotting the 26/11 terror attack and was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber in 2013. He is set to be released in December 2021. After his release he is expected to be extradited to India.
Yet another accused David C. Headley, a Pakistani American, was sentenced in a U.S. federal court to 35 years in prison in January 2013 after he pleaded guilty in 2011 in helping the terrorists plan the attacks.
The Mumbai attack case has entered into the 12th year but none of its suspects in Pakistan has been punished yet. The attack was carried out by 10 Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
In all 175 persons were killed, who included 9 terrorists, 13 foreign guests staying in different hotels, 22 Indian guests residing in hotels, 5 foreign tourists, 6 members of ultra orthodox Jewish Chhabad movement, 19 police personnel including an NSG commandos, 25 hotel employees, 5 state government employees, and 71 persons on road/ railway station.
The persons of different nationalities who were killed included 5 from Israel, one Mexican Israeli, 3 Germans, 2 each from Australia, Canada, USA and France and one each from Japan, Singapore, Italy, UK, Malaysia, Netherlands and Mauritius.
Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab, who was caught alive by Assistant Police Inspector Tukaram Omble ( who sustained bullets fired by Kasab yet captured him and eventually died ) and others, was hanged after a prolonged trial on 21 November 2012 at 7:30 AM. and buried at Yerwada Jail in Pune in Maharashtra.
The attackers who came from Karachi high jacked a boat near Porbander in Gujarat, killed its owner and reached Mumbai. As they neared Mumbai they used inflatable dinghies and reached the coast near Badhwar Park in South Mumbai.
The attackers armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades, targeted civilians at numerous sites in South Mumbai, including the  Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj railway station, the popular Leopold Café, Cama hospital and a theatre. While most of the attacks ended within a few hours after they began at around 9.30 PM on November 26, the terror continued to unfold at three locations where hostages were taken—the Nariman House, where a Jewish outreach centre was located, and the luxury hotels Oberoi Trident and Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.
By the time the standoff ended at the Nariman House on the evening of November 28, six hostages as well as two gunmen were killed. At the two hotels, dozens of guests and staff were either trapped by gunfire or held hostage. Indian security forces ended the siege at the Oberoi Trident around midday on November 28 and at the Taj Mahal Palace on the morning of the following day.
Most of those who suffered or family members of those killed in the attack have by now been settled but sad memories linger on. Reaction of some of the affected/next of the kin are: Bharat Gujjar (an employee of Leopard Café) “ Long history is over. Now everything is normal at Leopold Café. We are working as usual and customers too pour in as usual. I reside at Colaba in a rented house with my family who include wife, three children and I. I don’t want to recall anything of the past. Bharat who was badly injured in terrorists’ attack spent many years in J J Hospital.  He is 44 years old now and has to look after three school going sons, wife and his aged mother. Nine pieces of grenades exploded by the terrorists are still embedded in his body. A compensation of Rs. 1.50 lakh was given to him by the Maharashtra government besides free medicare at J J Hospital. The Tata Trust extended financial help that too came as a great help”.
Vaishali Omble (daughter of slain police officer Tukaram Omble) “Government has given us a CNG station to run. But we are operators and not the dealer. I conduct coaching classes for children from home, while my sister has been employed in the state sales tax department. The Mumbai police personnel inquire about our well being time to time. That gives us great solace. Every life is precious. As such every one must contribute towards nation building. There is some improvement in security, but it needs improvement.
Devika Natwarlal Rotawan ( who was shot in her foot by Kasab at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus)  ” we are staying on rent in a small room in Subhash Nagar, Bandra East in North West Mumbai, since no one has given us house. I stay with my father and younger brother. My mother passed away in 2006. One of the elder brothers runs a grocery shop in Pune, while another brother Jayesh (25) suffers from permanent backache”.
“ I will be appearing for 12 th standard examination this year. I lost two years due to TB ailment. I am still receiving treatment from a private doctor and required to spend huge money for my treatment. I want to complete IPS and become a police officer”. “We are from Pali in Rajasthan. The people in our village have already began murmuring how anyone would marry a girl suffered in terrorists’ attack” Devika’s father said with tension.
Devika, a 9 year old girl then, was shot in her foot by Kasab, disabling her permanently. She  is 21 years old now. She was the youngest witness in the trial, who had come with crutches, in June 2009 before designated judge M L Tahilyani, at the special court at the Arthur Road Central Prison. She had boldly identified Kasab.
Now a decade later, coastal preparedness is better than earlier, but the overall picture remains less than satisfactory. While the state of inter-agency coordination has improved, state governments continue to be indifferent to needs of coastal security, and the state-police still reluctant to shoulder responsibility. The real problem, observers point out, are systemic flaws in the policing apparatus. From low numbers of marine police stations, to the underutilisation of patrol boats for coastal tasks, absence of shore-based infrastructure, manpower shortages and unspent funds.
Meanwhile a proposal for a Central Border Police Force, proposed by Maharashtra is still under consideration. The central government wants the new agency to be modelled after the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) — raised, funded, and administered from New Delhi. But many security experts believe the plan is unviable. With no authority to register offences or carry out investigations, the new agency, they fear, may end-up being a toothless force.

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