Mumbai: sifting facts from rumors

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Office workers panic at the rumours of firing at the CST (Victoria Terminus) in Mumbai. (Image: Stuti Sakhaikar, Flickr)

While some normalcy has returned to Mumbai and people are returning to work, there is still military activity around The Nariman House Jewish Cultural Center, the home of the Chabad Lubavitch sect in Mumbai. The Center is still under siege by terrorists holding hostages.

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Malini Agarwal, a journalist in Mumbai, and Sadanand Dhume, author of "My Friend the Fanatic" -- a book about Islamic militants -- joins "The Takeaway" to give clarification on the current situation in Mumbai.

Agarwal: "The good news is that they have managed to get Lubavitch under control, and all the terrorists -- the two who were remaining -- have been killed. They have been letting people in now to ... recover bodies, and also see some of the people who had stores inside. And it's a horrific site inside -- I got a call from a friend who was there, and he said that this lady just walked in and found her dead brother and ... you could just hear her screaming in the background.

"Apart from that, Nariman house is still under siege ... there's believed to be one terrorist still at-large. He's apparently at one of the ballrooms, and they don't know if he has any hostages or not, but he's still firing 36 hours later."

The nature of the attackers shocked many, according to Agarwal: "They're barely 20-years-old, they look ... pretty well-dressed, well-fed, nothing like we would imagine a terrorist to be, so the great fear is how could we even recognize them in a crowd."

According to Dhume, it's important at this point to separate fact from rumor about the attackers, and: "What we do know is that this group is highly organized, well-trained, tenacious, and capable of carrying off an audacious attack right in the heart of India's financial capital.

"Now it seems like the Indian government is blaming Pakistan, and when the evidence comes in, if it turns out some of the people who have been captured ... turn out to be from Pakistan, it would then point to, most likely, to a group or an offshoot of ... not a part of Al Qaeda, but is broadly of the same ideological persuasion."

Dhume says that there is another crucial distinction to be made: "It would be very, very different if it were in fact traced back to the Pakistani government as opposed to being traced back to Pakistani soil. Both of them are grave situations, but one is clearly graver than the other."

"The Takeaway" is PRI's new national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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