Updated: Jan 12
Campus Ambassador, Internationalism
1. 12 YEARS OF 26/11.
One dreadful evening followed by three days of horror-stricken experience, such a kind that India never witnessed takes us back to the wintry November 26, 2008.
It’s been twelve complete years since that fateful night when Pakistan-based militants attacked the Indian financial capital of Mumbai, killing over 160 people and wounding over several hundred. The twelve coordinated and consecutive bombing and shooting attacks by ten Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists targeted on the major landmarks of the city including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Taj Gateway, the Oberoi Trident, Albless Hospital, Nariman House, The Leopold Café and St. Xavier’s College. These attacks not only shook the city but the entire country, unsettling memories of which are still alive.
The terrorists arrived the city via the sea route as they hijacked a ship owned by Indian fishermen and killed them on the move. Reports revealed that each of the terrorists carried AK47 automatic rifles, around 500 rounds of ammunition, pistols, grenades and other explosive devices, with a strong plan to be executed in three different groups. The first attack took place at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, one of the busiest railroads in India where the terrorists blindly shot at people, killing several. Later on, simultaneous attacks occurred in different parts of the city. The attackers set off bombs in the Hotel Taj Mahal Palace and took people under hostage, of which many were foreigners and killed several of them in the 60 hour long siege.
Most of the terrorists were killed in the counter-attack by the Indian security officials. The National Security Guards (NSG) then carried out Operation Black Tornado which ended all the assaults. Though relatively underprepared Mumbai police tried their best in the fight against the heavily armed terrorists. Several officers and security personnel were martyred during the operation. The four-day siege finally terminated on the morning of November 29. The last remaining terrorist named Ajmal Kasab was captured alive and on interrogation, it was found out how the attack was executed by the help of Pakistan. Later, Kasab was sentenced to death and hanged after a long trail in the year 2012.
It is said that the horrifying Mumbai attacks of 26/11 was one of the significant stages of bureaucratic failure for India because of the faulty decision making and slow security preparedness which made 26/11 a large consequence of institutional apathy. There were astonishing infrastructural loss but a much greater loss of human lives by such a barbaric act. Adding to it was the internal effect on the peace and security of the country as community-based disturbances began to emerge.
Terrorism being a global phenomenon has always remained one of the biggest threat to humanity and India is one state which is vulnerable to terrorism. India had its own share of lessons that came as a wake-up call after episodes of being a victim of terrorism. From its close focus on security lines to advocating its way to counter-terrorism techniques and much more, India has come a long way. This long journey of learning and unlearning from 2008 to 2020 brought into focus how the state needs to work in collaboration in order to exterminate terrorism.
2. BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY.
India woke up to the worst chemical disaster in the history on 3rd December 1984. The Bhopal Disaster also known as the ‘Bhopal Gas Tragedy’ was in the truest sense no less than a tragedy as a midnight industrial mishap took a heavy toll on human lives. A cloud of toxic and harmful gases escaped from Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) an American pesticide plant, killing and injuring over thousands of people.
On an intervening night from 2nd to 3rd December, a gas leak was reported in the UCIL from three storage tanks at the Plant Number C. It is estimated that near about 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas along with other poisonous gas leaked from the Union Carbide factory. The MIC gas is an intermediate gas used in the manufacture of pesticides. The gas leak resulted in a variety of serious health difficulties leading to the death of several hundred in the very initial hours after the leak. Nearly 5,00,000 people in and around the location were exposed to these toxic gases. As the morning of December 3rd arrived, panic grew and affected people were immediately taken for medical assistance. The medical symptoms among the patients ranged from minor eye ailments, blindness, and skin issues to even cardiac arrest. Officially it was said that the gas leakage was contained in 8 to 9 hours but the aftermath was most destructive of all.
The after-effects of the disaster continued for years after the incident. Thousands of people were rendered permanently disabled and permanently handicapped. Over a lakh of people continued their lives with minor ailments. Not only the people who came in direct contact with the gas but effects were also seen in their offspring. The tragedy affected pregnant woman, the unborn foetus, newly born babies, the young and the old all in the same proportion. It also had severe environmental effects as it polluted drinking water, soil, water bodies and the breathing air as a whole. The psychological impact has been even more severe as the city still find it difficult to come out of this torment even after 36 years of the incident.
According to the reports by Madhya Pradesh government, around 2500 people lost their lives immediately, even a huge number of cattle and animals of that area succumbed to the poisonous gas, whereas non-governmental bodies estimated a total of 8000 deaths. A governmental affidavit filed in the year 2006 revealed that the tragedy had killed 3,787 people and had affected more than 5.58 lakh. Various human rights organisations, labour organisations and other civil society organisations have raised concern about the incident and have demanded exemplary punishment to those who are responsible for such a large scale disaster. The UCIL was held responsible for such a disastrous mishap and was asked to release a compensation amount. A settlement was mediated by the Supreme Court of India where $470 million were distributed to the claimants. However, it is said that the worth of the loss incurred was much higher and the amount paid as compensation was nothing but a mere mockery of human lives.
The incident came as a big lesson for the industries, MNCs and government in a totality. More focus was laid on the corporate responsibility of companies and techniques for accident prevention. After 1984 the environmental activism and awareness also saw a significant improvement. Now industrial planning and industrial development plans have to be minutely discussed and deliberated with the participation of the government. Still there comes in opinions of how this unfortunate disaster could have been helped. The year 2020 witnessed such moments of panic and apprehension on the occasion of the Vizag Gas leak and Baghjan Oil Explosion, though the situation did not turn severe. The Bhopal Tragedy is reminded as a catastrophic tale for which justice is still awaiting.
3. PEARL HARBOUR DAY.
World War II is one of the most significant points in history encompassing certain incidents which is recognised as the turning point in the course of all actions that followed in history thereafter. One such event is the attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. On the Sunday morning of 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States of America by bombing the U.S Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, which is situated on the South Coast of Oahu Island, Hawaii. The base was attacked by 350 imperial Japanese aircraft. Though the raid lasted for only 75 minutes, the Japanese destroyed or damaged nearly 20 American Naval Vessels including 8 battleships and more than 340 aeroplanes. It resulted in the loss of lives of over 2400 Americans of which 2,008 were Navy personnel, 109 Marines, 218 Army service members and 68 civilians along with that there were several other thousands wounded by the attack. The Pearl harbour attack is the first-ever foreign attack on the United States territory which is also the longest in terms of the duration it lasted. This very attack on the United States signalled the entry of the U.S into World War II. The United States which was once reluctant to be a part of the WWII and had its role only as an indirect supporter to the United Kingdom had, after the Pearl Harbor attack, officially declared war on December 8th, 1941.
There was much more about the attack by the Japanese troop and it can be traced back to the already disturbed relationship between Japan and U.S on a number of issues, which deteriorated over the decade particularly in regard to the issue of Japan’s expansion into China. It was also followed by U.S decision to cut down of natural resources, especially oil to Japan as the U.S went suspicious of Japan’s movement of building Naval bases around the territory. Japan also was suspicious of the power U.S holds and wanted to neutralize its position in the Pacific and prevent U.S entry to Southeast Asia. The plan behind the attack was to destroy United States’ pacific fleet, a move which would give the Japanese time to carry out its plans to keep control of the Pacific without the intervention from the United States. The attack was carried out with much planning which reports say that the United States had a little clue about but did not take required precautions.
This attack without the declaration of war enraged the Americans. There were rallies around the country demanding the Congress to announce a full-fledged war. The Pearl Harbor attack was in a way reversed back when President Franklin D Roosevelt delivered this now-famous statement, “December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy”. On December 8th, 1941, one day after the attack U.S declared war on Japan officially making its entry into World War II.
The Pearl Harbor incident is one pivotal moment in the Second World War and also for the U.S as it had impacted America’s trust in foreign countries. After the long drawn history of war, both the countries at present have taken steps towards peaceful negotiations. The Japanese diplomats regard the Pearl Harbor incident as a ‘deeply regretted’ one. Over the years relationships between the countries have been of a cordial manner.
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Legit Originals: Volume 1.Issue 4(December 2020)
Happy to announce that, Legit by Internationalism, The Magazine on Legal Theory by Internationalism, is featured in the Top 100 Legal Blogs of India, by Feedspot.
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