The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) condemns the violent attacks unleashed in Mumbai by an underground armed group calling itself the Deccan Mujahudeen. As reports come in, an estimated 107 innocent persons have lost their lives and more than 300 persons injured in the incident. More than 200 persons are currently being held hostage by this armed group. The attack has prompted the government to impose curfew in many parts of Mumbai, which is also the financial hub of the country.
The pattern of attacks on soft targets, like innocent persons in a railway station, three hospitals, at least three hotels, other public spaces and government establishments like the police headquarters shows the military-style coordination of the assailants and their absolute disregard of human life.
The fact that most of the assailants are relatively young is alarming. It is of particular relevance given the fact that several terrorist recruitment cells were reported to be operative throughout the country. The topography of the city, the widespread and simultaneous nature of the attack with high level of coordination and the sophisticated weapons reportedly being used by the assailants suggests the possibility of large-scale preparation prior to the attack.
While world leaders have condemned the ongoing terrorist attack, the terrorists through their actions have made it clear that they have nothing in common with Islam, the religion they claim to represent or defend.
It is reported that the Indian authorities have taken steps to contain the ongoing violence and to end the hostage situation. It is reported that in at least two hotels, the Oberoi Trident and the Taj, the terrorists are holding hostages.
Mumbai and several other cities in India have been subjected to similar attacks by underground forces in the past. On 11 July 2006, 147 persons were killed and an estimated 439 persons injured in Mumbai when bombs planted in suburban trains went off. On October 30 this year, 62 persons were killed and an estimated 300 persons were injured after 12 high-intensity bombs went off in Kokrajhar, Barpeta Road and Bongaigaon – three towns in the state of Assam.
A hundred persons were injured and 20 killed when five bombs went off in busy market places in the national capital New Delhi on September 13 this year. Forty persons were killed and over 100 persons were injured in bomb explosions that rocked Ahmedabad in Gujarat state on 26 July. Sixty persons were killed and 150 injured when 10 bombs went off in Jaipur in Rajasthan state on 13 May 2008. Most of those who lost their lives or were injured in all these incidents, like many other terrorist attacks across the world, were innocent civilians.
Violence against innocent persons is an act of cowardice. Loss of human life can never be an excuse for the propagation of an ideology or conviction. Those who resort to murder and violence as a means of communication rule out the possibility of a peaceful space to settle disputes and are a threat to democracy and its norms. Violence is only a crude tool for societal fragmentation. The assailants who murdered innocent civilians in India in this incident and those in the past have only increased the unwarranted divides among religious groups in the country.
The AHRC iterates that it condemns the violence and wishes to express its concern for those who have lost their dear ones and have been injured in this incident. It also calls upon the authorities in India to ensure that all possible measures are taken so that the least damage is caused in putting an end to the violence.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.