India's prime minister Saturday called together the country's top
military and intelligence chiefs. Officials say he wanted details on
the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the responsive actions being taken. In
New Delhi, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports the government is
finding itself under immediate pressure to show its resolve amid
On the day local elections were held in
New Delhi, with polling underway in five other states and Mumbai
counting bodies from the terror attack, top government officials
huddled in the capital.
An Indian academic security specialist
predicts little will result from the high-level meetings. Brahma
Chellaney of the Center for Policy Research believes Indians have
become accustomed to terrorism. He says officials lack the political
will to make fundamental changes, even after this attack, which he
considers the worst since September, 2001.
"Just the way
people here have come to accept corruption they've come to accept a
high level of terrorism," said Chellaney. "It's like a part of life.
This is a kind of attitude which you will not see in most other parts
of the world. This is a terrorist siege of India. This is the whole
country being held hostage again and again by small bands of terrorists
who obviously have the backing of some important actors outside."
politicians are wasting no time portraying Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and his allies as soft. Some of the political voices on the right
also emphasize Pakistan and Islamic extremists as culprits, threatening
to worsen tensions between India's majority Hindu and minority Muslim
The nationalist BJP party, for example, in Friday
newspapers, ran front-page advertisements illustrated with bloody
graphics. It called the government weak, unwilling and incapable of
fighting terror. India's science minister, speaking on behalf of the
governing coalition's top party, Congress, called the ads "a matter of
Some television news channels have been
running scrolling commentary from viewers calling for revenge against
the culprits and demanding harsher security measures.
studies professor Brahma Chellaney tells VOA News the government has
resisted tougher relevant laws, fearing their misuse.
a big political controversy in India about counter-terror laws,"he
said. "I don't like special laws for the purpose of combating
terrorism. But the reality is when you are under siege you need certain
laws that will speedily bring perpetrators to justice."
Prime Minister Singh wants a new federal investigation agency to combat terror. But that is being resisted by the states.
states have been criticized for a lack of cooperation among themselves
and with the federal government in terror probes. Rivalries among
numerous state and national agencies tasked with law enforcement,
border security and intelligence gathering have also stymied past
The prime minister met with military and
intelligence chiefs as commandos still were going room to room in the
Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel to secure the damaged Mumbai landmark.
Notably the man in charge of domestic security, Home Minister
Shivraj Patil, was not present. Opposition leaders have been calling
for his ouster for his alleged weak response to terrorist bombings even
before the Mumbai attacks.
Patil also convened his own meeting of top officials of various military forces and law enforcement agencies.
Home Ministry's special secretary for internal security, M.L. Kumawat,
says one immediate change after the Mumbai attacks will be improved
surveillance of India's 8,000 kilometers of coastline.
was decided that there's a need to have better coordination between the
navy, coast guard and police by an institutional mechanism and further
upgrade coastal security as expeditiously as possible," he said.
Some of the terrorists used boats to infiltrate Mumbai's Colaba coast.
Minister Singh has also called for all political party leaders to meet
Sunday in the capital to discuss the attack, which has shocked the
nation and prompted calls for a clear and quick response.