Mumbai Revisited

Prashad-150x150 One year ago, Mumbai was the target of a horrendous terrorist attack. Over at the Immanent Frame, several scholars–Veena Das, Sumit Ganguly, William R. Pinch, Vijay Prashad, Arvind Rajagopal, Anupama Rao, Tariq Thachil, and Arafaat A. Valiani–reflect on “what might constitute an appropriate response on the part of the Indian government, reflected on the terrorists’ use of spectacle (and the media’s response to it), considered India’s ongoing struggle to maintain its self-professed secular identity, and discussed the troubling socio-economic status of Muslims in India, the history and current state of Muslim-Hindu relations, and recent challenges to Mumbai’s historically cosmopolitan make-up.” Vijay Prashad:

When mass movements wither, bitterness remains with the movements’ fugitives, many of whom plot amongst each other to contrive their return. These fugitives fire bullets at each other, accusing one another of treachery, holding themselves above the reasons for the failure of their movements. Equally, they seek refuge somewhere to gather up strength so as to return again with force.

In the 1990s, Afghanistan was that refuge for fugitives from Mindanao Island to Ingushetia, from the Arabian Peninsula to the Indonesian archipelago. Those who went to Afghanistan arrived with grievances of their own, some of the body, some of the soul. The exhaustion of national liberation into the authoritarian states of the 1980s, combined with the export of Saudi Islam to undermine any hope for the resurrection of radical nationalism and gave succor to this Jihad International. Funded by Washington and Riyadh, this International grew to have a greater sense of its own destiny, believing that what it accomplished was by its own means and not by the deft maneuver of its puppeteers. Not Hekmatyar, nor Shah Massoud, nor Bin Laden, could have set the trap for the Russian Bear, and none alone would have been able to thwart the Soviet Afghantsi, the frontline troops. It took this rag-tag brigade, despite Pakistani and US support, four years to dislodge the weak government of Mohammed Najibullah after the withdrawal of the Soviet armies. But the take-over of Afghanistan in 1992 and the collapse of the USSR in 1991 produced the excessive fantasy that the Jihad International was responsible. It was a fantasy that continues to have catastrophic effects.