Mainstream politicians in India have been claiming that it's basically Pakistan behind it. There’s an escalation of tension, very much in line with the usual thing — whenever there's anything like this, the blame is focused on Pakistan as the main enemy.
Congress has been trying to outdo the BJP in this. Although the BJP has led the way, Congress always tries to be as anti-Pakistan and as communalist as the BJP, particularly now with elections soon.
In September there were the bombings in Malegaon, in Maharashtra. Recent investigation had revealed the role of Hindu communalists in those bombings. The head of the anti-terrorist squad Hemant Karkare who was killed in the recent Mumbai events had been leading that investigation, and had been targeted by the BJP as anti-national because of that. There are a lot of things that need explanation.
The naming of the Mumbai events as India's 9/11 is very problematic, because it is being used as a way of saying that India must do the sort of things that the US did post-9/11. Already there is a huge level of persecution of the Muslim community in India, and not only in terms of the Hindutva outfits. That has really increased over the last year or so.
Mumbai is a Shiv Sena [Hindu-communalist] ruled city, and they can mobilise on a huge scale. Whenever anything like these events happens, it is routine for there to be anti-Pakistani demonstrations, as there seem to have been this time. That doesn't mean there has been a spontaneous outburst of anti-Pakistan feeling.
There's a subtext there — when they talk about Pakistan, there's an assumption that Indian Muslims are with Pakistan, they are the internal enemy. And there's a refusal to admit that the policies which India is pursuing, in terms of its total alignment with US foreign policy as well as internal policies, are alienating the Muslim community. Not only have there have been the pre-planned genocidal attacks organised by the Hindu fascist forces, such as that in Gujarat in 2002, but there is also incarceration and torture of Muslim youth on a mass scale, in Uttar Pradesh for example, and then there is the ongoing military occupation of Kashmir.
It is also important to realise that the organisations based in Pakistan that are being identified as possibly involved are not now within the control of the Pakistani government Many were initiated via the ISI (Pakistani intelligence) by the CIA and still have those connections. There is a lot of concern in South Asia that this may be part of a build-up to an attack on Pakistan by the US.
In Mumbai there is also a counter-tradition of anti-communalism and working-class solidarity. A lot of groups have been active for a long period against communalism and in bringing people together. Many left groups have come out with statements calling for unity, condemning the whipping up of tension with Pakistan, and supporting, for example, the demand by the family of the anti-terrorism squad chief who has been killed for an inquiry into the events.
For more info on the Malegaon blasts (carried out by Sangh Parivar forces): http://tinyurl.com/5k8qnl
• Kalpana Wilson is a member of the South Asia Solidarity Group