Violence, in the shape of serial bomb blasts, has a curious way of resurfacing in Mumbai. The process began ten years ago in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Monday’s explosions claiming 50 lives had no immediate and apparent provocation. But terrorists, following the injunction of the patriarch in The Godfather, see revenge as a cold dish, best taken when cold. Thus the attacks in Mumbai could be the retaliation of an injury suffered in the past. This must be the central problem for investigators and intelligence agencies: the lack of a clear-cut and unambiguous motive. The motive is crucial since one thing is certain, that Monday’s outrage was not a stray and random act of violence. It was planned and well-coordinated. The imprints of an organization and a mastermind were undeniable. It will be naïve to assume that such incidents will not happen again. On the contrary, all action must be premised on the exact opposite assumption. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Mumbai has become an unsafe city for everybody since nobody can predict when and where terror will strike next. This aspect of India’s commercial capital sits on a paradox. On the face of it, Mumbai is a very safe place where thousands stay out late into the night. Yet just below the daily life of the city lurks the presence of the mafia who control much of the city’s activities and keep alive a flourishing and powerful underworld. There is every good reason to suspect that the blasts are, in one way or the other, linked to Mumbai’s underworld.
Even if it is difficult to pinpoint a motive for the blasts, an overall context for their occurrence can be outlined. This is related to the almost exponential increase in religious fundamentalism and religious violence all over India. A major chunk of this violence, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, is externally sponsored but the external agencies succeed because of the presence of religious fundamentalism within the country. There is no point getting into a dispute about who cast the first stone. The problem of violence in Indian society has become far more dangerous than that kind of blame mongering. There are no known means of uprooting fundamentalism but the violence that accompanies it can be eradicated through counter terror based on better intelligence gathering. The victims of terrorism are always innocent people. It is the duty of the state to protect the citizens and their property. No political considerations should stand in the way of carrying out this primary duty of the state.