The Mumbai Blasts: Terrorism in India Runs Deep
Do the Mumbai train bombings point to a Kashmiri Muslim separatist group, or are they linked to al-Qaeda?
The recent string of commuter-train bomb blasts that killed nearly 200 people in Mumbai, India, and left more than 700 injured is yet another violent incident in a series of bombings around the world. Early thinking was that these blasts were the possible work of Muslim terrorist groups fighting to free Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim territory between Pakistan and India, from Indian control. But new fears have surfaced about the possibility that the attacks were the work of an international terrorist organization, much like the bombings in London a year ago.
To gain insight into the political and religious climate in South Asia, Beliefnet talked with Sumit Ganguly, a professor of Indian culture and civilization at Indiana University and an expert on the Kashmir struggle. Ganguly, the author of two books on the India-Pakistan conflict, said the Mumbai bomb blasts go way beyond Hindu-Muslim violence, which has plagued India for years.
Early reports from U.S. and Indian government officials said the bomb blasts had the looks of Lashkar-e-Toiba, a leading Pakistan-based militant group fighting in Kashmir. What do you think? Can this be the work of Kashmiri militants?
It’s certainly within the realm of possibility, particularly the kinds of things they’ve been saying on their websites lately--such as there is Hindu, Jewish, and Zionist crusader conspiracy, referring to Christians and the United States. Some of this kind of very unsavory language has been percolating on Jihadi websites as well.
Such terrorist groups come forward quite quickly to claim responsibility, and it’s been more than 24 hours since the bomb blasts.
Just because [Muslim terrorists groups fighting for Kashmir] have not come forward does not mean that they are not involved. And also bear in mind that there is something very sinister about these bombings. They were carefully orchestrated, just like the London bombings or the Madrid bombings. This is only circumstantial evidence, but that’s all we have to go on at the moment.
Some analysts have suggested that a powerful, possibly transnational group must have been behind the bombings. Does this have the markings of Al-Qaeda?