Mumbai attacks: Media covered only deaths of rich people — Arundhati Roy

In the Guardian article titled Mumbai was not our 9/11, Arundhati Roy says:

If you were watching television you may not have heard that ordinary people too died in Mumbai. They were mowed down in a busy railway station and a public hospital. The terrorists did not distinguish between poor and rich. They killed both with equal cold-bloodedness. The Indian media, however, was transfixed by the rising tide of horror that breached the glittering barricades of India Shining and spread its stench in the marbled lobbies and crystal ballrooms of two incredibly luxurious hotels and a small Jewish centre.

She doesn’t have a clue. Apparently she, like the terrorists, does not distinguish between rich and the poor.

Are all the employees of a 5-star hotel — cooks, waiters and waitresses, the maids who make the bed and clean the rooms, the people in the reception counter — rich? Are these not ‘Ordinary’ people? Didn’t many of these employees die? Won’t the families of the employees want the media to give them information about what is happening? And what about the families of the policemen and commandos?

The Indian media did show and talk about the killings in the railway station. They even showed mugshots from CCTV footage. But the killers left the railway station, entered 5-star hotels and took hostages there. And the killers were there for a couple of days. Do you want the media to have live coverage of the railway station because may ‘poor’ people were killed there couple of days back?

If the terrorists had gone to the Taj hotel first, sprayed bullets indiscriminately and killed several people and then went to the Railway station and took several ‘poor’ people hostages for a couple of days, I certainly don’t think the media would have been constantly showing live pictures of the Taj where several ‘rich’ people died and not have live coverage of the Railway Station.

She goes on to say

Over three days and three nights we watched in disbelief as a small group of very young men armed with guns and gadgets exposed the powerlessness of the police, the elite National Security Guard and the marine commandos of this supposedly mighty, nuclear-powered nation.

Then she contradicts herself regarding the helplessness of elite commandos by saying:

Part of the helplessness of the security forces had to do with having to worry about hostages.

What other part is there? What is the relevance of a country’s nuclear status when it comes to handling a hostage crisis?

The Mumbai attacks have been dubbed ‘India’s 9/11’, and there are calls for a 9/11-style response, including an attack on Pakistan. Instead, the country must fight terrorism with justice, or face civil war.

In the immediate aftermath of an attack of this scale, tempers will be running high and there will be calls for a fitting response. That doesn’t mean that country’s leaders will immediately respond and start a war. Cooler heads will prevail. However, if it were not for such intense pressure and threat of retaliation, I don’t think Pakistan would have acted and ‘arrested’ the leaders of LET and JUD and taken other actions. This wouldn’t have happened if “we fight terrorism with justice”.

Note that in spite of the outrage of the citizens (Muslims included) there has been no violence on Muslims. Muslims have expressed outrage, declared that these terrorists are not Muslims and denied them a burial.

The whole country has rallied around and is probably more united than before the attacks. If the LET and some factions of the ISI thought that this will tear the country apart along communal lines, they got a rude shock. No Arundhati, there will be no civil war.

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