Manmohan Singh's opening remarks at the All Party Meeting
November 30, 2008
"Esteemed Chairperson UPA, respected colleagues and friends. I thank you all for being here at such short notice.
The ordeal at Mumbai, which occupied the attention of the entire nation, has finally come to an end. All of us share the grief of those who have lost their loved ones in this dastardly and brutal attack and also the pain and anguish of those grievously wounded. We cannot lessen their grief. But we will do all we can to alleviate their suffering. I give you my solemn assurance that we will look after the needs of those who survive this horrible tragedy.
We salute the bravery of our security forces who fought the terrorists in exceptionally difficult circumstances. They tried their utmost to save innocent lives at great personal risk. Twenty officers and men made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives. The entire nation owes a debt of gratitude to these men that we can never repay.
We have had terrorist attacks before also. But this attack was different. It was an attack by highly trained and well-armed terrorists targeting our largest city. They came with the explicit aim of killing large numbers of innocent civilians, including foreign visitors. They sought to destroy some of the best known symbols of our commercial capital.
We share the hurt of the people and their sense of anger and outrage. Several measures are already in place to deal with the situation. But clearly much more needs to be done and we are determined to take all necessary measures to overhaul the system.
We are further strengthening maritime and air security for which measures have been initiated. This will involve the Navy, the Coast Guard and the coastal police, as well as the Air Force and the Civil Aviation Ministry.
The anti-terrorist forces of the country will be further strengthened and streamlined. The National Security Guard, which is the principal anti-terrorist force of the country, will be given additional facilities and the size of the force is being augmented. Steps have also been initiated to establish another 4 NSG hubs in different parts of the country. Additionally, the special forces at the disposal of the Centre would be appropriately utilized in counter insurgency operations.
We have finalized a set of legal measures based on the recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission which includes the setting up of a Federal Investigating Agency.
In the face of this national threat and in the aftermath of this national tragedy, all of us from different political parties must rise above narrow political considerations and stand united. We should work together in the interest of the country at this critical juncture.
We should build a consensus on what needs to be done to strengthen the ability of our system to meet these threats. The terrorists and enemies of our nation must know that their actions unite rather than divide us.
I do hope that at the end of our discussions today we will be able to give our collective assurance to the nation that, across the political spectrum, we stand together at this hour. I look forward to hearing the views of each one of you.”
The Prime Minister then requested his cabinet colleague Shri P. Chidambaram to open the discussions."
Shri L.K. Advani
Leader of the Opposition (Lok Sabha)
New Delhi – November 27, 2008
• The terrorist attack on Mumbai is an audacious challenge to India’s Nation-State.
• While maintaining calm and unity, we must all resolve to break the back of India’s enemies.
I am traumatized by the events in Mumbai since last night. Clearly, the terrorists have declared a full-scale war on India and sought to sever the country’s economic nerve with their meticulously planned carnage across the metropolis. The magnitude of their sinister design and determination is evident from the fact that they are yet to be fully over-powered. They are still holding people hostage in some leading hotels and private houses more than 12 hours after starting the onslaught on innocent people in various parts of the city.
No other city in our country has borne the brunt of terrorism so repeatedly and in so deadly a fashion as Mumbai. In earlier terrorist acts in Mumbai as well as in other places in India, outside Jammu & Kashmir, the attacks have been mostly in the form of bomb blasts by anonymous persons. For the first time, last night, terrorists have also resorted to indiscriminate firing at a crowded railway station, hospital, luxury hotels, cinema halls, and residential buildings. Also, for the first time, the fidayeen attackers have held foreigners as hostages. As many as 100 persons have been killed in this mayhem.
Last night’s terrorist attack using grenades, other explosives and AK-47 rifles is in a very significant way a continuation of the first episode of serial bomb blasts in Mumbai on 12 March 1993.
It appears 26 November 2008 is a continuation of 13 March 1993.
In the context of what has happened last night in Mumbai, there is no doubt that both the UPA Government at the Centre and the Congress-NCP coalition Government in Maharashtra have a lot to answer for. However, I shall not comment on this aspect now as today is not the occasion to do so.
Right now, the need of the hour is for the people of Mumbai, Maharashtra and the entire country to stay united and calm. Maintenance of peace, tranquility, communal harmony and patriotic unity must be our highest priority.
I spoke to the Prime Minister last night to express my concern as soon as I heard the news. Today morning he called me to suggest that both of us should travel together to Mumbai to examine the situation, express solidarity with the security forces and also try to provide succour to the victims of the tragedy. I have readily agreed to his proposal. Accordingly, I deferred my plan to leave for Mumbai immediately.
I pay homage to all the brave policemen and police officers who confronted the terrorists by risking their lives. In particular, I feel sad that Hemant Karkare, chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), Maharashtra, senior police officers Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar have lost their lives in yesterday’s operation. Coming in the wake of the recent martyrdom of police officer Mohan Chand Sharma in an encounter with terrorists in New Delhi, these acts of dedicated service and sacrifice have earned our security forces the gratitude of the nation.