The violence in Mumbai took every one by surprise including the police and administration and left the city at large shell shocked. Initial reaction was a crowd of local Muslims rioted for the cause of their coreligionists outside and indulged in rioting.
Closer look reveals a wider national security threat and a security challenge. What happened in Mumbai was a new form of terrorism. A group of illegal immigrants/local misguided youths/ sponsored goons with specific instructions on what to do took the city hostage.
Varied estimate is floating around about the number of people who took part. 50,000 people is what’s been said. If the entire 50,000 people had rioted and indulged in arson, it would have taken days to control. The loss would not have limited to about a dozen vehicle being torched. The losses would have been far higher including public property and shops and businesses being looted and burnt. Loss of life would have been higher and the bigger threat would have been such a riot getting converted into a large scale communal riots. So it indicates that a small number of people indulged in rioting and arson which was contained quickly.
The Mumbai riots may be a smaller test to see what the terrorists could achieve. Next time they may plan something bigger. This represents a challenge to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Reports indicate that there were videos and MMSs in circulation prior to the rioting. These videos were provocative. India will have to look to establish cyber tracking systems which look for provocative and propaganda videos which could lead to calls for rallies and turn violent.
Better intelligence network is required. The agencies should look to recruit moderate Muslims to infiltrate potential extremist outfits to stay ahead of the terrorists.
Any calls for rallies should be checked by intelligence agencies for the background of the organizers. Also check for any heightened activity on mobile and Internet by means of videos and SMS which are provocative. Twitter was widely used to spread propaganda videos. The cyber cells should be on a look out for such activities.
What mumbai riots have shown is that enemies of India are getting innovative in their methods to spread terror in India and are one step ahead of our agencies. It’s time our agencies pull up their socks and preempt these terrorists and make our country safer.