Under its Newsnight programme, British Broadcasting Corporation 2 is reportedly planning to show at 10-30 PM on June 29, 2009, an investigative story on the Mumbai terrorist attack of November
26, 2008, by Richard Watson, its correspondent. An advance version of the programme disseminated to the media in the UK and India shows that as a result of his investigation, Watson came to the conclusion that spotters belonging to a Mumbai-based sleeper cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba ( LET) must have been communicating to the LET's controlling officers in
Pakistan details of the police deployments and movements in and around the targeted areas on the basis of which they were able to give precise instructions to the terrorists participating in the multiple attacks. He questions the Mumbai police version that the controllers were able to give such instructions purely on the basis of their visual observations from the TV coverage of the attacks as they were taking place.
As reported by TheTelegraph of the UK, Watson says as follows:
"How did the leaders know the police positions in such detail? Mumbai police say they were watching live TV in Pakistan. But these instructions seem remarkably precise for that. I know the kind of live-shots used in these situations and they would be unlikely to yield that kind of detail. It is far more likely that they had spotters on the ground who were feeding back information to their leaders about the police movements. If this is true then it means a Lashkar e-Taiba cell in Mumbai
which played a crucial role in the attacks which is still undiscovered."
His conclusion is based on his assessment of the communications intelligence collected by the police and not on the basis of any independent evidence collected by him in addition to what the Mumbai Police had collected.
The fact that the LET has been having sleeper cells in Mumbai is well known since the twin explosions of
August, 2003. It is also a reasonable possibility that the Mumbai Police has not been able to identify and neutralise all the sleeper cells of the LET in Mumbai. That is why acts of terrorism keep taking place from time to time despite the neutralisation of many cells in Mumbai and other cities. Recently, a sleeper cell headed by a Nepal-based LET operative was neutralised by the Delhi Police.
To say that the LET must still be having unearthed sleeper cells in Mumbai is one thing and to assert that the spotters of an LET sleeper cell in Mumbai must have been passing on details of police deployments around the targeted areas to the controllers in Pakistan during the attack in
Novembere, 2008, is something totally different.
The Mumbai terrorist attack lasted nearly over 60 hours. Nationals of many Western countries and Israel were among those taken hostage by the terrorists. The intelligence agencies of at least India, the US and Israel were electronically monitoring the telephone calls from and to the attacked areas on a minute-to-minute basis. Of all the intelligence agencies of the world, the National Security Agency (NSA). the electronic intelligence agency of the US, has deployed the maximum technical assets in the Af-Pak region since 9/11 to monitor the communications of Al Qaeda, the LET and other associates. Once the terrorist attacks started, the NSA must have turned all its assets in the region towards Mumbai to monitor all in-coming and out-going communications. So too the Indian intelligence.
The Indian and the US intelligence agencies were able to intercept all communications passing between the terrorists who had occupied the two hotels and the
Nariman House and their controlling officers in Pakistan. In addition to contemporaneously monitoring telephone conversations, intelligence agencies have also arrangements for automatic recording of all conversations in a terrorism situation so that if they contemporaneously miss any conversation, they can refer to the recordings.
Had there been LET spotters around the areas targeted, who were in independent communication with the controllers in Pakistan their
conversations--whether through the Internet or otherwise--must have also been intercepted contemporaneously or recorded and noticed subsequently. No intelligence
agency--neither Indian nor the US nor of any other country--has spoken of any such conversation with Pakistan by elements not participating in the attacks. This would show that apart from the 10 terrorists of the LET, who participated in the attacks, nobody else was in independent communication with the controllers in Pakistan.
The terrorist attacks were covered from different camera angles by camera teams from over 50 TV channels of the world. If the controllers in Pakistan had been able to see all their live transmissions, they would have had the minutest details of the police deployments. During the Black September kidnapping of some Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics in 1972, the terrorists, who had taken up position with the hostages inside a house in the games village, were able to get details of the police deployments by watching the TV inside the house. At that time, there were hardly half a dozen channels and their technical equipment was not very good. If they were able to get so
many details by watching so few channels, it should not be surprising that the Pakistan-based controllers of the Mumbai attacks were able to get a lot more details in such precision.
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT