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Mumbai is Not India’s 9/11

by CERAS, 12 December 2008

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For immediate release

Montréal, Wednesday 4th December

We at CERAS (South Asia Centre/Centre sur l’asie du sud) have been deeply shocked and saddened by the inhuman carnage and mayhem inflicted on Mumbai in the past week. We are angered that human life was trifled with in a cold, calculating and callous fashion. We offer our condolences to the many families in India and abroad who have suffered sudden and tragic loss. Whoever the perpetrators were and whatever their aims or motivation may have been, the act of terrorizing and brutally killing innocent people, is reprehensible and we condemn it. However, Bombay is recovering. Its people and the people of India are resilient. The fact that there is no ‘retaliatory’ violence is a victory for India’s citizenry.

India has seen many acts of terrorism in the post-colonial period, usually directed to minority communities. The seemingly random terror unleashed on civilian populations in various cities of India in the past year being the most recent. The people of India have maintained calm and balance. One can speculate about who was responsible. The shadowy nature of the most recent attackers, have led to all kinds of hypotheses. But showing maturity, the people of India will wait for the outcomes of investigative work.

In the past few years, relations between India and Pakistan, though still stilted and somewhat prickly, have been the best they have in a long time. The finger-pointing in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks not only seriously threatens this slow but sure rapprochement, it bodes ill for peace and stability in the entire region. Those responsible for the massacre probably have these consequences in their crosshairs.

Along with all who are concerned about what happened, and the possible consequences of the attacks, we urge the government in India to proceed with caution and balance and not to indulge in petty populism. Recent history around the world and in the sub-continent, has shown that discourses of terror and state actions flowing from them, usually have the most negative consequences for the innocents who are caught up in the dragnet, especially minority populations. These populations then feel constrained to pathetically demonstrate their loyalty and patriotism in ways not demanded of majority populations. We also urge the government of Pakistan to be restrained and cautious in this tense time.

In terms of the South Asian diaspora, it is most essential to not fan flames of hatred and retaliation. The importance and significance of the diaspora has grown. In CERAS over the years we have worked to strengthen ties between South Asians in the diaspora as we are committed to fostering peace, secularism and democratic development in South Asia. The launching of our most recent community and interfaith initiative for peace and justice in South Asia, coincided with the dastardly attacks on Mumbai. This to us is proof that only long-term, committed work between South Asians in the sub-continent and abroad can undermine the forces that would use violence for their own sinister and selfish aims.

We are confident that the innate resilience of the courageous citizens of Mumbai will help them gather their strength and regain their self-confidence, and they will recover from this shock with fortitude. Heads may be bowed and hearts saddened but the spirit is unbroken. No terrorist can take that away.

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