While most College of William and Mary students returned home to enjoy a relaxing weekend with their families and friends this Thanksgiving break, some members of the College community spent the time off worrying about the safety of family and friends abroad in Mumbai, India.
The series of 10 coordinated terrorist attacks that occurred in Mumbai, India’s financial capital and the second-most populous city in the world, began Nov. 26 and did not end until Nov. 29 when Indian military forces regained control of the attack sites. Four Americans were among the 195 people killed.
“My mom told me about the attacks after my family called from Mumbai to let us know that they were all right,” said Surya Sundar ’12, who was born in Mumbai and whose mother’s family resides there. “Over break we just watched the news over and over again. [The attacks] were all we talked about at Thanksgiving.”
Sundar was relieved to learn that his friends in Mumbai are safe, too.
“They’re just scared and frustrated. Mumbai is the target for a lot of attacks, and my friends are extremely frustrated by how much [the violence] affects their lives,” he said. “The terrorists accomplished their goal because now everyone in Mumbai is scared, scared to leave their homes.”
India is no stranger to violent terrorist attacks. On July 25, at least two people were killed and 20 wounded in a series of seven attacks in the southern city of Bangalore. The following day, 21 bomb blasts hit the western city of Ahmedabad, killing 56 people and wounding 200.
When Tanvi Shirke ’12 heard about the most recent attacks, she was immediately reminded of her visit to the city of her birth, where her relatives still live.
“All I could think of was this summer when the bomb blasts hit Ahmedabad and Bangalore,” Shirke said. “My family didn’t go out for a week after the Ahmedabad bombs because Mumbai was predicted to get hit next.”
The November attacks in Mumbai were different from other recent attacks because “they involved a lot of internationals, and were much bigger attacks than the others”, according to Sundar. “I’ve lost a lot of friends in train blasts before,” he said, referring to neighbors who were killed in smaller attacks a couple years ago, “but this is different.”
Shirke feels disappointed that the Indian government failed to anticipate the meticulously planned Mumbai attacks.
“I’m very proud of the way the situation is being handled in Mumbai. But what upsets me the most is that Indian intelligence had no foresight into the plan,” she said. “No one knew that such a large threat to one of India’s richest port cities was being planned. And they really should have known.”
Sundar said he and his family blame the corruption in the Indian government for its lack of anticipation.
“There have been so many attacks in India since 2000, and usually after about two weeks everyone forgets about them,” Sundar said. “There is so much corruption in the Indian government that nothing ever gets done [in response to terrorist attacks]. People will accept the situation and keep going. It’s a lost cause.”