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Analytical Essay on Terrorism in Mumbai

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In November 2008, A series of terrorist attacks took place in Mumbai. A terrorist organization, based in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out eight attacks that lasted for 4 days across Mumbai. Eight of the attacks occurred on prestigious and historic locations in which there was an estimation of 174 people died including 9 attackers and more than 300 were wounded. This attack was well-planned and coordinated, and it involved the usage of digital technology for communication.

Eight of the attacks occurred in prestigious and historic locations which were

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus
  • The Oberoi Trident
  • The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
  • Leopold Café
  • Cama Hospital
  • Mumbai Chabad House
  • The Nariman House
  • Explosion at Mazagaon, Mumbai’s port area


The Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 26, 2008, in India were a massive blow to the internal security and peace of the Indian sovereign territory. Investigations revealed that the attacks were not sporadic but rather studied and pre-planned series of several skirmishes that led to the siege of four densely populated areas in the city of Mumbai. Interestingly, crime analysts point out that the Central Intelligence Agency had already intercepted the messages exchanged between the responsible persons who belonged to the organization, Lashkar-e- table, a Pakistan-based terror group, and informed the Indian intelligence organization- RAW. The Indian overseas authority however continued to take no immediate action against the lead on the attack. Thus, it is argued that the calamity of the attacks could have been avoided if the inland security was alerted. However, based on the research, it also emerges that although the attacks could have been minimized in their impact, the attacks could not have been completely stopped. This is because the convicted personnel who were involved in the implementation of the multifold attacks testified that the plans for the siege of Mumbai were carried out much in advance and involved a high level of coordination between the different teams. Moreover, peculiar to this incident was the direct involvement of the Pakistan state intelligence (ISI) in providing logistics support to the terrorists. Thus, the acts were resilient to mere preventive measures as they appear to have been strengthened both in terms of training and the financial costs for the maintenance of the personnel. Given that the weapons and the personnel came from the neighboring country Pakistan through the sea route via the Arabian Sea, the plan was extremely expensive in terms of the monetary costs involved. However, the Mumbai attacks proved to be additionally heavy in terms of the costs incurred by the suffering country in order to curb and arrest the terrorists and it additionally took a toll on civilian lives both in terms of survival as well as trauma of the survivors.


“The two landing sites and the targets – two iconic five-star hotels, a Jewish Centre, and a prominent railway station complex – had been meticulously recced by a LeT ferret planted in Mumbai.

The attacks possibly had dual tactical objectives.

  • To extract a video-game-counter-like toll of civilian lives and later, to lay prolonged, multiple sieges in India’s commercial capital. The strategic objectives also appeared to be two-fold.
  • To strike at the booming Indian economy and heighten border tensions which could jeopardize Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s peace outreach towards India.

The feeble reception that awaited the gunmen in Mumbai was inexplicable. For at least two years prior to the attacks, Indian intelligence agencies issued at least twenty-six alerts warning of possible Fedayeen strikes, seaborne attacks, and multi-target raids. Yet this spreading bloom of alerts, did not cause even a murmur and was instead, lazily passed down from the Central intelligence agencies down the bureaucratic chain in the Mumbai police. Hotels on the target list did not even install basic measures like doorframe metal detectors or blast-protected doors or even rehearse emergencies.

Reaction in India

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai exposed loopholes in the security system that India had in place to deal with this “new brand” of terrorism—urban warfare characterized by symbolic attacks, multiple targets, and high casualties. Subsequent reports indicated that several intelligence warnings by Indian as well as U.S. sources had preceded the attacks but that authorities, citing the lack of “actionable intelligence,” had ignored them. Moreover, there was an inordinate delay in the deployment of India’s elite National Security Guards, whose commandos reached the besieged hotels some 10 hours after the first shootings took place on November 26. The lack of coordination between authorities in the Indian capital New Delhi and officials in Maharashtra state also weakened the immediate crisis response. India’s interior minister, Shivraj Patil, who was widely criticized in the aftermath of the attacks, tendered his resignation on November 30, 2008, declaring that he took “moral responsibility” for the assault.

Weakness in the process

The reactions that do not help in a mitigation effort are also important to understand, to get the complete picture of the information processing mechanism during the Mumbai Police Department's response to the attacks. The Control Room officials disagreed with the fact that officers believed that they could counter the terrorists with existing technologies and weapons. But the field officers, on the other hand, agreed that the officers hoped to counter the terrorists with existing weapons and technologies.

“I felt that I had never experienced something like this in Mumbai. Most officers were trained in or had experienced one-strike attacks – not live attacks. Field officers were not trained or equipped.” [Control Room Officer]

Both Control Room and Zone 1 personnel believed that officers did not think that the attacks were minor, and they also believed that the media did not help in collecting and passing correct information about the attacks. In one of the interviews, a Control Room officer mentioned that the media reported wrong information about the death of a senior police officer, and it was corrected later on by the police control room. According to the interviews, the Control Room officers believed that the officers thought that attack would end soon, and the terrorists would be captured. But the Zone 1 officials believed the opposite. Overall, the assumptions made in order to mitigate the terror attack were somewhat more than neutral for Control Room, and the Zone 1 officials disagreed with such assumptions.

“One officer did not know what actually happened at VT which was because he did not voluntarily switch the broadcasting channel to South Zone. In fact, most in the line of duty that day got to know most of the news and reports from the TV news ticker.” [Field Officer]


The Leopold Cafe opened its doors to customers just four days after the attacks. The owners wanted to repair the damaged parts of the cafe while retaining some of the damaged pieces as a tribute to those who lost their lives in the attacks.

Security forces handed back control of the Taj Mahal Hotel to the Taj group on 1 December 2008, and work on its repairs began that same day. Celebrated artist M.F. Hussain, whose art was destroyed in the attacks, has agreed to replace the paintings with a series that will condemn the attack. Hussain plans this series as a tribute to the staff of the hotel, who laid down their lives to save other people.

Control of the Trident has already been handed back to the management, while the Oberoi will take 3–4 months to resume operations. Both the Taj and Trident hotels reopened on 21 December 2008.

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Nariman House will also reopen soon, but it is not known exactly when. Several young Chabad couples from all over the world have stepped forward to move to Mumbai and continue the movement's work.

In the aftermath of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, all schools and colleges, and most offices were closed. The Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange remained closed on 27 November 2008. Shooting of Bollywood films and TV series had also been halted in the city. Many international airlines temporarily discontinued operations in Mumbai, in the interest of passenger and crew safety.

The Indian Cricket League's ongoing tournament in Ahmedabad was canceled. The two remaining One Day Internationals of the seven-match series between the visiting England cricket team and India were canceled. The visiting team flew home but returned to continue the test series. The attacks have brought into significance the issue of 379 Indian boats and 336 fishermen apprehended by the Pakistan marine agency, for entering their waters. Nearly 200 of the boats have reportedly been auctioned, now recognized as a national security issue for India. On 28 November, Pakistan released 99 fishermen who were apprehended, as part of confidence-building measures with India. There were threats to blow up ITC Fortune Hotel in Navi Mumbai after Mumbai police received a bomb threat from terrorists. Rumors about further shootings at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus were doing the rounds in Mumbai on 28 November and were widely reported by the news channels. The Railway Police denied these rumors but stopped trains approaching CST.

The committee evaluated lapses in the law enforcement agencies and suggests measures to prevent events like the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

The aim of the commission was to 'analyze how far the existing procedures, instruments and administrative culture are to be blamed for what is perceived as lapses. The committee’s stress was on identifying systemic failures,' as opposed to blaming individuals.

The report stated that there was a lack of leadership among senior police officers. It attacks Hasan Gafoor who was the Commissioner of Mumbai during 26/11. 'We have found a series of lapses on the part of the Commissioner of Mumbai in the handling of the multi-pronged attack. There was an absence of overt leadership on the part of CP Hasan Gafoor and a lack of visible command and control at the CP's office. “Instead of taking charge of the Control Room, Gafoor stationed himself outside the Trident Hotel and coordinated the police's response to the terror strikes from there. The reports Gafoor went against the standard operating procedure laid down to deal with terror attacks.

Gafoor was transferred a week after the report was submitted to the government.

The Pradhan Committee Report also said the government under-performed during 26/11. 'We found several lacunae in workings both within Mantralaya and within the Police establishment. We'll set out procedures for handling intelligence... crisis management was overlooked'. It is also critical of the two hotels attacked during 26/11, the Trident and the Taj, for not following security advice issued to them.

The Pradhan Committee report is not all anti-police. It praises Director General of Police A N Roy and Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria who was in charge of the control room. The report has also raised critical questions on the Mumbai Police's lack of equipment and arms, saying that the state police had not received any ammunition since 2006. It has also pointed out that the Mumbai Police last received AK 47 bullets in 2005 and that the Quick Response Team has had no practice since 2007.

The report was leaked before the first anniversary of 26/11 as divisions within the Mumbai Police peaked. Speaking to NDTV's Barkha Dutt on the eve of the 26/11 anniversary, Home Minister P Chidambaram had said: 'It's time the Mumbai Police talked less and did more and stopped wasting time in running to the media.'

Responding to ‘26/11’

Initial claims that 26/11 represented a paradigm shift in the Indian state’s approach to security governance have proven overstated. Yet the attacks did produce some important policy developments.

Police modernization efforts increased greatly at the Mumbai city and Maharashtra state levels.

Following 26/11, police modernization accelerated rapidly, albeit temporarily. Less than a month after the attacks, a new budget totaling Rs 126 crore (USD approx. 23.3 million) had been sanctioned by the Maharashtra legislative assembly (Agarwal 2008). This budget authorized a range of new purchases including imported weaponry, a fleet of new armored vehicles, speedboats, amphibious vehicles, and other security gadgets.

Shortly after 26/11, the state government also announced a surveillance scheme to cover Mumbai with 6000 CCTV cameras. In addition to the pace of these developments, it is important to draw attention to the nature of the procurements themselves. Whereas the MFG largely focused on basic weaponry and equipment, the response to 26/11 focused on purchasing expensive imported weapons, armored vehicles, and new uniforms for special operations forces with distinctly militaristic features. One of the most visible examples was the fleet of Mahindra Marksman bulletproof jeeps, ironically painted with desert camouflage. These were stationed at prominent locations across south Mumbai such as the Maharashtra state government headquarters Mantralaya, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, and the Gateway of India/Taj hotel, and are typically manned by police officers carrying automatic rifles.

By 2 April 2009, the government of Maharashtra passed an order authorizing the creation of the state’s own ‘crack’ commando squad Force One tasked with responding to live terror incidents.2 The government also considerably expanded, strengthened and restructured the Mumbai police’s Quick Response Teams (QRTs) through new training regimens, uniforms, weapons, and equipment. These units were permanently stationed at all of Mumbai’s five regional police stations, under the command of their local Additional Commissioner of Police.

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Analytical Essay on Terrorism in Mumbai. (2023, October 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
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