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Friday, 28 November 2008

Violence in Mumbai

The media have been scrambling to try and explain the origins of the terror in Mumbai. One academic interviewed on ABC 666 Canberra refused to join in speculation about the claimed responsibility by the Deccan Mujahideen - never heard of them before he said. We do not have enough information to even speculate. Lack of information has not stopped the media. As Savi Hensman has commented in a brief on the Ekklesia site:

While a group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility, the most high-profile victim was anti-terrorist unit head Hemant Karkare, who just two days before had received a death threat for his investigation of violent Hindu supremacists. His death, along with two other senior police officers, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar, is a blow to efforts to make Bombay safe for residents and visitors from all creeds and communities.

The rise of the extreme right in Bombay, the surrounding state of Maharashtra and India as a whole has dismayed more moderate Hindus, and resulted in widespread violence against Muslims and, in some areas, Christians. Many in the police and armed forces are connected with, or afraid to confront, powerful hardliners.

But Karkare was willing to probe more deeply, and his investigation into a bomb blast in Malegaon led to the arrest last month of a number of Hindu extremists. This was an embarrassment to a movement which has sought to portray itself as respectable while pursuing electoral success. The death of Karkare and his colleagues will be a setback to those seeking to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism of all kinds.

Questions that need to be explored will move us beyond simple answers to pick up the interconnection strands of violence and the way different forms of extremism will feed off each other in mututal self justification.

What will also be missed in the media pursuit of simple answers is as Savi Hensman observes is that ... in multicultural Bombay and beyond, there are many people – high-profile figures like Karkare and ordinary residents of whom few have heard – who work hard to counter destructive ideas and prevent violent acts, whose efforts deserve to be recognised.

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