26/11 Files: How Mumbai terror attacks changed the entire public discourse on terrorism

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Mumbai, Nov 24: On November 26, 2008, something unexplainable happened, my city changed forever," this is how Rubia Ali, a Mumbai-based fashion designer, recalls the horrific 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

"Why only Mumbai, the dastardly act carried out by the Pakistani terrorists--for three consecutive days--changed the way the very concept of terror is viewed across the country," adds Rubia, two days before the 8th anniversary of 26/11 on Thursday.

Mumbai terror attacks

Like Rubia, research scholar Madhuri Dutta, who calls herself a quintessential Mumbaikar, opines that during those series of attacks, the terrorists hit the very heart of India.

"It was more of a psychological warfare."

"It is difficult to forget the images of smoke billowing from the windows of the Taj Mahal hotel and the National Security Guard (NSG) commandos on their mission to rescue people stranded in Taj, Oberoi Trident and Nariman House. The attack was a target on the elite and the privileged, something that never happened in the country before," adds Dutta.

It was not for the first time that Mumbai witnessed a terror attack on its soil.

The city has witnessed several terror strikes before 26/11.

On March 12, 1993, Mumbai (then Bombay) was rocked by a series of 12 bomb explosions.

The infamous Bombay Bombings, 1993, masterminded by Dawood Ibrahim, mostly targeted the common man of the city.

In a total shift from usually targeting the commoners on the streets, the Pakistani terrorists during 26/11 strikes attacked and jolted the country's establishment by preying on the rich, powerful and expats.

"26/11 is one of the most-talked about terror episodes across the globe. We can actually divide India's tryst with terrorism into two part-pre-26/11 and post-26/11 terror attacks. The large-scale human loss--164 to be precise--by just 10 gunmen tested country's counter-terrorism measures," said Rupam Barua, a Guwahati-based senior editor, who has covered insurgency in northeast region.

Barua added the terrorists, who came from Pakistan, were well-trained and armed with sophisticated weapons, unlike home-grown militants in the northeast region and Kashmir.

At a time, when neighbouring countries--India and Pakistan--are witnessing renewed tension along the Line of Control, 26/11 terror episode is a reminder that Pakistan is yet to bring to justice the masterminds of the terror attacks that numbed the entire world..

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