Sat, Nov 29, 2008 - Page 5 News List

MUMBAI ATTACKS: Indian media slam intelligence

ILL-PREPAREDEditorials castigated the country’s lack of security preparation, putting much of the blame on the prime minister, who is focusing on the economy

AFP , NEW DELHI

Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard outside Oberoi Trident Hotel where suspected militants were holed up in Mumbai, India, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Indian newspapers yesterday slammed the government and intelligence agencies for failing to prevent the Mumbai attacks, saying the country’s anti-terrorism forces were ill-prepared for the militants.

“Mumbai maimed, nation shamed” read the banner headline in the Mail Today, which said the country’s intelligence agencies “had no clue of the impending attack” despite spending huge amounts of money on anti-terror measures.

An editorial in the Hindustan Times reflected the tone of much of the coverage, saying that “losing our best officers to frontal assaults is a brave but utterly hopeless way of fighting modern terror. It is time to learn ... that global terror cannot be fought without transforming our national security.”

The Times of India editorial, titled “It’s war — Mumbai attacks challenge the nation to fight back,” also questioned why anti-terror agencies had failed.

“How well do we run them, how well-resourced are they, and is there proper coordination among them to maximize and collate information?” it asked.

Noting the time lost in deploying special forces, the paper said: “The point is that even in circumstances where personnel and infrastructure were available, planning and execution are shockingly poor.”

The Indian Express poured scorn on the secret services.

“What are the intelligence mechanisms that failed to pick up a terrorist plan with as much micro-planning as this one?” it asked. “What can be done so that this does not recur? Because without working through this question, there can be no closure.”

The paper also launched a personal attack on the Indian prime minister via a front-page opinion piece, saying there was “a special responsibility on Manmohan Singh’s shoulders.”

“In 1991, he liberated our economy. Over the past five years, he modernized our foreign policy,” it said. “Partly distracted by that, and partly by the politics of his coalition, he has not been able to make the slightest difference to our internal security. He has to now start fixing that.”

Other banner headlines exclaimed “Terror uninterrupted,” “Fear, pain, anger” and “Mumbai at war.”

The Hindu newspaper took a caustic tone, saying that India’s “fractious and often bitter religious politics has not helped in keeping religiously motivated terrorism in check.”

“The strengthening of the intelligence machinery with increased manpower and more sophisticated equipment, which is promised every time a terrorist attack takes place, brooks no further delay,” it said.

All papers honored the 15 or more security personnel that were killed, including the head of Mumbai’s anti-terror squad.

“An officer and a gentleman lays down his life,” read one tribute.

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