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A reckless approach

New Delhi, Wed, 14 Jan 2009 M Shamsur Rabb Khan

How casual we are in fighting terror is best manifested when the news of a key witness to the 10 terrorists who entered Mumbai on November 26 missing comes to the surface. Nothing could be more shameful and corrupt when the country is made to know that the Mumbai police failed to provide security to the witness who had seen all the terrorists alive. Such is the lack of seriousness that the security and investigating agencies probing terror cases do exhibit. Moreover, it puts a great question mark over the credibility of the police.

But first get to news item. Anita Uddaiya, the lady from Fisherman's Colony in Cuffe Parade and one key witness in the Mumbai Terror attacks case, has been missing since January 11. She was the one who saw the terrorists land on Mumbai’s shores on November 26. Earlier, she was taken to JJ Hospital to identify the 9 killed terrorists. According to Mumbai police sources, they have launched a manhunt for the missing witness.

Now pause and think how the system is rotten enough that does not see the severity and seriousness of the case; leave alone the ordinary people’s cases. The police have been so careless about her safety that they did not know about her whereabouts as well, and they could know only when the daughter of Uddaiya lodged a complaint after she went missing. The Crime Branch of Mumbai police, which is the investigating agency in the November 26 terror attacks, has also launched a probe into the incident. Though the concern for the safety of witnesses is a common phenomenon in this country, the Mumbai police took it lightly, and even in a case that shook the nation with tremendous losses.

There are lots of questions: who is behind her abduction? Why is she missing? Is there any local link that wanted to eliminate her? Is there local link-police nexus? Or if something else, then what? It is quite clear that those who are to be exposed or facing danger of being exposed might have done the act. Much of our angst and anger, helplessness, victimhood, losses and ire are directed against the perpetrators, but we have failed to secure a ‘foolproof’ system that could stop such incidents to happen.

Now the Mumbai police will have one more thing to probe: disappearance of the lady since she is a witness in the case. In spite all the hue and cry; in spite of all the anger; in spite of all the resolves, we are still vulnerable because the people who run the system have shown poor quality commitment to the cause. Perhaps we have not learnt any lesson from the mistakes. Perhaps we will never will. What more can be said about it than we continue to condemn, prosecute one or two officials, and things will continue as they were before. Our fight against terror will be a futile effort if we drag on with the corrupt system at all levels of governance.

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