Finding fault with the Mumbai Police

It is naive to expect that exemplary standards of evidence will convince the Pakistani government to admit its own involvement

Commenting on how the outcome of the Mumbai Police department’s investigations into the July 11 train bombings should embarass the supporters of the India-Pakistan “joint mechanism” to fight terrorism, The Acorn wrote:

But you’ll never know, Dr Manmohan Singh’s spin doctors may now question Mumbai Police’s professionalism.

In today’s editorial, the Indian Express argues that India must ‘improve its own act’:

One way for the police and diplomats in India to understand the importance of surefooted detective work would be to look at some of the court observations in terrorism cases. The 7/11 investigation breakthrough comes at a time of verdicts for the 1993 Mumbai blast case and the Parliament attack case. While finding terrorists guilty, judges have had things to say about shoddy and dodgy police procedure. Think about it this way: if police methods improve, India will gain whether or not Pakistan learns to accept facts. [IE]

There is certainly a case for improving the way India’s police forces work, just like there is a case for improving the way India’s water is supplied, buses are run, laws are made or for that matter, the way newspaper editorials are written. But asking Mumbai police to “improve their methods” just after they have successfully cracked a very challenging case is not merely callous. It has sour grapes written all over it.

It is the Indian Express that totally misunderstands the role of evidence in the context of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Evidence is meaningful only when one desires to convince a neutral judge, it is not at all meaningful if one desires to convince the guilty party. Therefore calling for “watertight” evidence (or questioning the validity of confessions extracted under narco-analysis) may be reasonable in an ordinary trial. It is completely irrelevant in the context of India attempting to convince the Pakistani government of ISI’s involvement. The only way India can make its evidence credible—both to Pakistan and to the presumably more neutral international community—is by acting on it. In other words, unless India acts according to what the evidence suggests, the evidence itself will not be seen as credible.

That begs the question: what should India do now that it has found official Pakistani culpability? The official Indian response seems to be to put the evidence on Pakistan’s table and hold it to its word. That’s asking Pakistan to choose between the “joint mechanism” and the ISI.

Update: In its editorial, Hindustan Times, another supporter of the Havana appeasement, writes:

Bet (sic), the ATS is yet to effectively link the conspiracy to the Pakistan government and its agencies —notably the Pakistan army’s notorious ISI. [HT]

Sounds reasonable enough? Not until you ask yourself how Indian security officials can “effectively link” prove the ISI’s hand without compromising intelligence sources.

14 thoughts on “Finding fault with the Mumbai Police”

  1. The Mumbai police are among the best in the world. They do a stellar job of policing a city of close to 20 million of the most diverse folks any where in the world. Can they improve? Nitin, like you said, yes of course. But they’ve cracked a hard case – congratulations to them on putting the story together. They’ve gone in the face of that peacenik PM of ours and held someone responsible. Coming from them, this is a credible and damning indictment. This reader now proceeds with the assumption that the ISI has been indicted.

    I find this idea holding the Mumbai police to these unrealistic standards of proof gathering ludicrous. Did anyone ask the US for proof before they bombed Afghanistan? Our two-bit neighbor asks for proof and we fall over ourselves to oblige – even while our messianic PM undermines the whole effort. Frustrating.

  2. Does Manmohan singh and his cohorts really believe that their spin masters Rajmohan, Shekar gupta et al have the credibility to deliver.

    I for one would take the Mumbai police’s word to that of our loony left-wing media anyday.

    Well done Mumbai Police!

  3. Nitin,

    Its quite obvious that this is an attempt to undermine the veracity of the evidence even before it is presented. We all know that Pak will do precious little even when confronted with the facts. And that would blow up in the face of the UPA Govt (and these newspapers as well). So, what better than to pre-empt that by casting aspersions on the “professionalism” of the Mumbai police?

    My prediction: Next stop will be about “targeting” minorities and noises by the Human Rights Commission. Any bets on whether RR Patil’s time frame of 2 years will be adhered to?

  4. The talks go on and evidence has been shown right since the time Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minsiter. Yet, no permanant solution emerges. What is the point in doing all this …?

  5. Nitin,

    In the pakistani rejection, even before the evidence is presented to them, lies the contours of their new strategy {or latest perfidy}.

    The purpose of issuing such statements is to divert attention from indigenous elements of India who are behind terror attacks in Mumbai and Malegaon. This is all internal. This is another effort to externalise internal malaise

    Indians have most likely run out of options. The cat and mouse game would most likely continue. The newest revelations, made by Mr. Jaswant Singh in his book has only served to inform the pakis that Indians are practically impotent and the nuclear blackmail actually works. This is what Mr. Singh reveals

    ‘Early during Operation Parakrama — the name given to the mobilisation of India troops following 13 December 2001’s attack on Parliament — Raghavan had asked me about our own aims… I had written on a scrap of paper: ‘to defeat cross border infiltration/terrorism without conflict, to contain the national mood of “teach Pakistan a lesson”, and in the event of war, to destroy and degrade Pakistan’s war fighting capabilities’. In this I faced two, really three challenges. The internal was the most taxing for it involved carrying conviction with colleagues. This sapped my internal resolve and resources. An adjunct to this was to carry the three service chiefs, also convincingly, with me… the chiefs so wanted a chance, ‘to have a crack’ as the military would put it — I had not only to persuade but also to convince them otherwise…. the third challenge was to carry the country’s mood, to contain its belligerence, its desire for revenge and retaliation, but to give it a sense of achievement, of having diplomatically defeated the enemy.’



    Now, if the self-proclaimed, patriotic NDA, with Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani at its helm, can put up a massive charade in the form of operation parakram, what can we expect from the UPA. In fact, the UPA has gone a step ahead and declared pakistan “a victim of terrorism”.

  6. While I have no doubt that the Mumbai police have got it right, perhaps the better idea would have been to CONVEY the evidence to Pakistan, wait for a day or two for a public acknowledgement of the evidence and if there was none, then go public to the Indian media. That’d have really put pressure on Pakistan. Now, Pakistan will [as always] continue to dismiss it as propaganda.

  7. Confronting Pakistan with evidence seems like a naive step, given past experience and the fact that the establishment and state itself is the perpetrator.

    A smarter move would have been using the mass of evidence that has been accumulated against Pak over the years to lobby for downgrading the credibility of Pakistan in the eyes of citizens of the superpowers. That would reduce the flexibility that the US-UK governments have while dealing with Pak. It is important to build the notion of Pak as a terrorist state, in the subconscious of the superpowers.

    Anything else will be a futile exercise.

  8. The IE (like the friday times in Pakistan) is a state department mouthpiece. It does not reflect MMS’s views.

    The Pakistanis seem to be relying on a strategy of putting up a big show of insulting India in public.

    The ATS will gladly name the Pakistani officer responsible in a chargesheet presented before the court of law. I pity the ISI officer and his family because the moment he is named on a chargesheet, the Pakistanis will be obliged to kill him to ensure that India does not get its hands on him by some nefarious means and produce him before an Indian court, where he may say all sorts fo things that implicate all sorts of people in the Pakistani Government in all sorts of things. Once they kill him, they will have to kill his family to prevent revenge from becoming a problem in the foreseeable future.

    This Pakistani policy of nonsensical posturing against India is extremely dangerous, if the Pakistanis don’t watch out this will come to bite them in the arse in a very nasty way.

    Today Musharraf likes to pretend he has no control over certain people, we are willing to perpetuate this fiction before the world media, but it will begin to hurt if he really loses control over them.

  9. well said
    even evidence that will hold solid in the international court of justice, at the hague, will be rubbished and dustbinned oops
    sent to the isi for further mistake proofing so that the next terror attack, be better executed and they can attempt to make the perfect crime
    nyways who needs enemies when terrorists have friends at home ministry and at 10 janpath and akbar road
    read my post

  10. nitin / pankaj
    nuk brinkmanship or gambling or threatening has always worked be it india/pak or North Korea Iran/ US

    im with u rajendra and maverick u have read too many kgb cia type novels to come to ur conclusion

  11. sorry im with ravindra it was a typo
    nyways maverick the isi will give a medal to the handler of the blasts not kill him
    if mush can threaten europe and us that without pak help they wd be in serious trouble then why will they care for the weak puny indian leadership?

  12. Hello netsuffering,

    They can’t afford to have a serving ISI officer named publicly at this point. Musharraf’s credibility will be toast because he claims he has full control over the ISI, he keeps talking about unity of command. His claim is that the Tanzeems are acting independently because they are acting on the sentiments of the aam janta which he does not control but he fully controls the army. That is why he came down so harshly on the Pakistani fellow who released that letter written by Army officers condemning Musharraf.

    If we publicly name an ISI officer and release proof like it was done at Kargil time with the communication intercepts, Musharraf will have been publicly told that he has no credibility in India. In Musharraf Land, there is only Musharraf and even Allah takes orders from him, so it will be as if we will have publicly called Musharraf a liar, a man who does not control is own army. To a Pakistani Army chief this is the unkindest cut of them all.

    To prevent this public collapse of credibility, Musharraf will act and he will kill the ISI officer, it is the only way to absolutely prevent us from capturing him. Like Osama the ISI officer will become the stuff of Islamist legends but he will cease to live and his family will also be killed to prevent them from using the Pakistani biradari system to undermine Musharraf.

  13. Even if India shows the video footage of terrorist activities by Pakistan, ISI and Pakistanis in India, this jhootha Mush will not accept it. He has already rejected our evidence, WITHOUT even having a look at it.

    Kar lo jo karna hai

    Why to talk of Mush, even our own pro-Pak media will display the mentality of blaming the rape victim, not the perpetrator.

    We Indians are like that only

  14. Agree with the majority content of this post but one thing I have noticed about Indian policemen ( not just Mumbai police ) is their penchant to run to the media while investigating high profile cases. Does not look very professional.

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