People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 23, 2006
CPI(M) LEADERS VISIT BLAST SITES, HOSPITALS
Mumbai People Remain United
Yechury and Brinda Karat at a hospital during their visit
P R Krishnan
IT was the blackest and most shocking Tuesday the people of Mumbai experienced. On July 11, a series of bomb blasts occurred in the packed suburban trains of the Western Railways. The eight blasts that took place in a short time of 11 minutes killed 205 people and injured more than 700 at the time this report was being filed. The toll kept rising by the day, with many of the seriously injured still battling for their lives in hospitals.
All political parties and democratic forces condemned this dastardly terrorist attack and central leaders of several political parties visited Mumbai after the blasts. Among them were Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau members and MPs.
VISITS TO HOSPITALS
Reaching Mumbai in the early morning on July 13, Yechury and Karat immediately rushed to the injured patients in different hospitals in the city and suburbs. Their first visit was to Deepak Hospital in the far-off Mira Road at Bhayander in the western suburbs. Here, among others, DYFI western taluk committee secretary K K Prakasan and several others, who sustained multiple injuries in the blast, were also undergoing treatment. From here, local leaders took Yechury and Karat to Naya Nagar, a blast site at Bhayandar where 48 people were killed and 125 injured. The local people had played a stellar role in the rescue work --- speedily carrying the dead and injured to nearby hospitals --- immediately after the train came to a halt here.
The other hospitals the CPI(M) leaders visited were Bhakti Vedanta Hospital in Mira Road, Cooper Hospital at Juhu, Lok Manya Tilak Hospital at Sien and KEM Hospital in Parel. They met and consoled a large number of patients and their relatives at these hospitals. Many victims narrated the horror of the blasts. One must mention that a vast majority of the blast victims were common people. The CPI(M) leaders were relieved to see the doctors and hospital staff rendering excellent services to the blast victims, and thanked them. They were also relieved to observe how the common people of Mumbai rose to the occasion and rendered help including blood donations to the victims.
The CPI(M) Polit Bureau members were accompanied by its Maharashtra state committee member Narsaya Adam Master MLA, its Mumbai committee secretary Mahendra Singh, AIDWA state president Mariam Dhawale, CITU state secretary P R Krishnan, DYFI leader Sailendra Kamble, CPI(M) Mumbai committee member Chanrakant Bhojgar and others.
GRIEVANCES CONVEYED TO CM
After the visits to the hospitals, Yechury and Karat jointly addressed a press conference at the Marathi Patrakar Sangh Hall in South Mumbai. Some of the questions which the reporters asked, related to the CPI(M) stand on deportation of Bangladeshis and regarding the release of Abdul Madani detained in Coimbatore jail. Questions were also raised about the propriety of revocation of POTA. To the first question, the reply was that deportation should take place after proving that a so-called Bangladeshi is not in fact an Indian citizen. In many cases, forcible deportations have turned out some people of West Bengal. In order to stop border crossing, the government should seal the borders. With regard to Madani, the CPI(M) leaders members said the CPI(M) has no political understanding with the PDP, as some are trying to make out. Ours is in fact a human rights approach.
With regard to the demand for reintroduction of POTA, Yechury pointed out that terrorist attacks took place at Raghunath Temple, Akshardham Temple, Red Fort and Parliament House during the BJP rule, even when the POTA was in force. The menace actually demands national unity against terrorism. At the press conference also, the CPI(M) leaders expressed their sense of appreciation that the people of Mumbai had magnificently responded to the need of the hour and rushed out to help the blast victims.
Later on, Yechury and Karat met the state chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh at the Council Hall and conveyed to him the grievances of some of the patients regarding inadequacy of medicines and treatment facilities in hospitals. The chief minister assured that he would issue instructions to the hospital authorities to take remedial measures. Narsaya Adam Master, Mahendra Singh, Mariam Dhawale, P R Menon (general secretary, NRMU) and Shailendra Kamble also took part in the meeting with the chief minister.
THE TRAINS TARGETED
Evenings in this metropolis witness the heaviest rush of people from south to northwest and northeast suburban areas. In the southwest of Mumbai is the Church Gate railway station and in the southeast is the Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). Of these two, the Church Gate station of Western Railways is the terminus or the starting point for the commuters residing in the western suburbs. Of the more than 60 lakh people travelling on the three suburban lines (Western, Central and Harbour) everyday, Western Railway suburban trains carry approximately 38 lakh commuters in 1030 services. Each such train with nine coaches is designed to carry 1800 commuters in normal situations, but the load invariably is 2.5 to 3 times that number during peak hours. Similarly, the first class coaches with a capacity of 200 carry three times that number. The number of commuters is still more if it is a 12-coach fast train.
It was the first class coaches the terrorists chose to plant explosives. Obviously it was for their own convenience, and not out of any sympathy for the poor in the second class, nor due to any particular hatred for the rich travelling first class. It is clear that the second class compartments could not have been much convenient for the culprits’ entry and exit as they are heavily crowded. The eight blasts that occurred within 11 minutes on the 11th evening were at 6.24 p m (Khar), 6.24 (Bandra), 6.25 (Jogeshwar), 6.26 (Mahim), 6.26 (Borivali), 6.28 (again Borivali), 6.30 (Matunga Road) and 6.31 (Mira Road-Bhayander). It was strange that the blasts paralysed the city telephone lines.
One recalls that similar attacks had taken place in the city of Mumbai, described as the financial capital of India, on March 12, 1993, when 13 blasts had killed 257 and caused injuries to an estimated 1,200 people. The whole operation then was carried out within two and a half hours --- between 1.20 p m to 3.56 p m. The context of those blasts was the Babri Masjid demolition on December 6, 1992.
The city of Mumbai witnessed terrorism surfacing many times in between March 1993 and the recent explosions on July 11. The first explosion in this period took place on December 2, 2002 in a bus near Ghatkopar police station; 2 persons died and 50 got seriously injured. This occurred when the trial proceedings relating to March 1993 explosions had reached a crucial stage. Then came a blast on December 6, 2002, which marked the tenth anniversary of Babri demolition. It took place in the Macdonald Canteen at Mumbai Central railway station; 25 people sustained injuries. A third one was on January 27, 2003. A big blast took place on the day in a busy market complex adjoining the Vile Parle railway station, in which one person died and 32 got seriously injured. This was a day after the then prime minister A B Vajpayee visited Mumbai. The fourth one was at the Mulund railway station in northeast Mumbai on March 13, 2003, killing 11 and injuring 84. This was on 10th anniversary of the March 1993 bomb blasts in the city. The fifth blast on July 28, 2003, was in a running BEST bus near the Sarvodaya Hospital at Ghatkopar, northeast Mumbai. Two died here and 60 got injured. In the sixth case, two blasts occurred simultaneously on August 25, 2003 – at the Gateway of India and in Zaveri Bazar area. These explosions took 52 lives and caused injuries to 161. And now the eight recent blasts in suburban railway trains on July 11.
PEOPLE UNAFFECTED BY COMMUNALISM
No concrete evidence has come out as to the culprits behind the recent blasts. It is said that the Lashkar-e-Taiba engineered the operations, and that Pakistan’s espionage wing ISI is also involved. While it was said earlier that RDX was used for the blasts, the authorities did not confirm it and the forensic laboratory chief advised all to wait for the final report. Media reports indicated that the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was involved in the conspiracy. On this basis, the police arrested 80 people and more than 350 were taken into custody for interrogation. Those arrested and those taken into custody were from Malvani, Malad and Beharampada in western suburbs and Dengri, Pydhoni and J J Hospital areas in Central Mumbai. These are predominantly Muslim areas.
It is significant that the people of Mumbai have not been influenced by any communal consideration insofar as these terrorist actions are concerned. In fact they came out wholeheartedly for the rescue of the disaster victims. The police, RPF, fire brigade and other agencies came to the blast scenes much after the people had begun to render help. They removed the dead bodies from debris, lifted and carried the injured to nearby hospitals and queued up to donate blood for the victims. This they did irrespective of caste, community, language and religion. Activists and functionaries of the CPI(M), CITU, DYFI, SFI and AIDWA remained in forefront in organising help for the blast victims.
One thing that clearly came out in this crisis situation was the failure of the intelligence system. In the backdrop of several explosions as mentioned above, one cannot say that the state government has taken adequate steps to prevent such crimes and nab the plotters. In recent days, the question of crime investigation and intelligence failure had come to the fore when Shiva Sainiks forced a Mumbai bandh on July 9 on the plea that the statue of Meenakshitai, Shiva Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s wife, at Shivaji Park was desecrated. The state revenue minister Narayan Rane said on the day that the bandh was stage-managed but the police stood as mute spectators and did not take measures to stop the Sena hoodlums from taking law in their hands. Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s statement in Mumbai, on July 14, also reinforced the charge of intelligence failure. This is a serious problem for the Maharashtra government to address.
Earlier immediately after the blasts Dr Ashok Dhavale, the CPI(M) Maharashtra State Committee secretary had condemned the heinous crime and demanded action against the perpetrators of the crime. Dhavale in the statement had also appealed for communal harmony.