Indian detectives inspect a device found at the blast site in the Dadar West suburb of Mumbai.
Indian detectives inspect a device found at the blast site in the Dadar West suburb of Mumbai.

Mumbai attacks an all too familiar feeling for some residents



MUMBAI // Terror appears to haunt the footsteps of Mukesh Agarwal.

Nearly three years ago, he was running his food stall inside Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus when two gunmen from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-i-Taiba group strolled through the station shooting commuters.

Nearly 60 people died at that location; Mr Agarwal still has a bullet in his hip from that attack.

On Wednesday evening, Mr Agarwal was in the suburb of Dadar West, on his way to a temple.

Five minutes after he passed through a particular spot, a bomb went off there - one of three that exploded across the city, killing 17 and injuring more than 100 people.

Since the blasts, the government's security apparatus has patted itself on the back for responding far quicker than it did during the November 26, 2008 attacks.

On 26/11, as it has come to be known here, elite security forces remained absent for several hours, leaving Mumbai's constables to deploy their ancient rifles or lathis (heavy wooden sticks) against AK-47-wielding terrorists.

At a press conference on Thursday, the Indian home minister, P Chidambaram, said: "The Mumbai police are better trained, better equipped and better motivated to deal with terror attacks."

But Mr Agarwal is unimpressed. "They're saying they responded faster, but I saw that they still had to fly down a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team from New Delhi," he said.

"As far as I could tell, there was also no difference in the time the police took to reach there."

Bernard Rodriguez, 34, a public relations executive, lives a 10-minute walk from the Opera House, where the most powerful of the three bombs exploded.

Mr Rodriguez estimated that it took police teams nearly 45 minutes to arrive on the scene.

Meanwhile, he said, "people were trying to get their hands on anything they could to transport the dead and the injured to the hospital. People were grabbing small hand-drawn carts … and even putting them on that".

It took a further hour for policemen to put up barricades around the scene of each blast, to isolate the evidence and protect it from passers-by.

In an interview with the television channel CNN-IBN, the chief minister of the state of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, admitted to a "shocking and unacceptable" breakdown in communications soon after the blasts.

"It unnerved me … the mobile network was jammed," he said.

In another interview, he said: "We need dedicated apparatus for emergency communication, better ambulances, (and) better road maps. And people too should be educated on what to do in an emergency situation."

But the one area in which the government's response had clearly improved over 2008 was in the rapidity with which commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) moved.

In 2008, it took more than 10 hours for an NSG team to reach the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, which was under siege from terrorists. The NSG's commandos, stationed on a base outside New Delhi, had to travel by road to the airport.

They wasted further time wangling an aircraft from the government's Aviation Research Wing, since no other aircraft was immediately available.

Since 2008, however, the NSG has set up deployments in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai, which on Wednesday evening, allowed the Mumbai team to reach the blast sites far earlier than during the 2008 attack.

A committee formed to look into security lapses following the 2008 assault had also recommended that another elite unit of counter-terrorism commandos, called Force One, be formed and stationed in Mumbai.

That unit became operational in late 2009, but it has not, as yet, been armed and equipped to its intended capacity.

Media reports have, since Force One was created, noted the lack of a permanent base in, or close to Mumbai, as well as its shortage of equipment such as night-vision goggles and bulletproof jackets.

In response to a perceived lack of security, diamond merchants at Zaveri Bazaar, the third of the locations to be targeted by Wednesday's bombs, shut down their shops yesterday to protest the lack of protection provided to them and their livelihoods.

Zaveri Bazaar has been targeted by bomb explosions twice in the past - once in 2003, when 44 people died in twin blasts in Mumbai, and once in 1993, when a series of 13 blasts killed 257 people across the city.

Dilip Shah, 25, a diamond marketing executive, was standing at the end of an alley in Zaveri Bazaar, waiting for his friends to join him, when the bomb exploded.

A friend says he hasn't spoken coherently since.

"He will only relay what happened that evening, over and over again."

ssubramanian@thenational.ae

8 UAE companies helping families reduce their carbon footprint

Greenheart Organic Farms 

This Dubai company was one of the country’s first organic farms, set up in 2012, and it now delivers a wide array of fruits and vegetables grown regionally or in the UAE, as well as other grocery items, to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi doorsteps.

www.greenheartuae.com

Modibodi  

Founded in Australia, Modibodi is now in the UAE with waste-free, reusable underwear that eliminates the litter created by a woman’s monthly cycle, which adds up to approximately 136kgs of sanitary waste over a lifetime.

www.modibodi.ae

The Good Karma Co

From brushes made of plant fibres to eco-friendly storage solutions, this company has planet-friendly alternatives to almost everything we need, including tin foil and toothbrushes. 

www.instagram.com/thegoodkarmaco

Re:told

One Dubai boutique, Re:told, is taking second-hand garments and selling them on at a fraction of the price, helping to cut back on the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of clothes thrown into landfills each year.

www.shopretold.com

Lush

Lush provides products such as shampoo and conditioner as package-free bars with reusable tins to store. 

www.mena.lush.com

Bubble Bro 

Offering filtered, still and sparkling water on tap, Bubble Bro is attempting to ensure we don’t produce plastic or glass waste. Founded in 2017 by Adel Abu-Aysha, the company is on track to exceeding its target of saving one million bottles by the end of the year.

www.bubble-bro.com

Coethical 

This company offers refillable, eco-friendly home cleaning and hygiene products that are all biodegradable, free of chemicals and certifiably not tested on animals.

www.instagram.com/coethical

Eggs & Soldiers

This bricks-and-mortar shop and e-store, founded by a Dubai mum-of-four, is the place to go for all manner of family products – from reusable cloth diapers to organic skincare and sustainable toys.

www.eggsnsoldiers.com

The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela
Edited by Sahm Venter
Published by Liveright

Sri Lanka World Cup squad

Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Isuru Udana, Milinda Siriwardana, Avishka Fernando, Jeevan Mendis, Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal.

Persuasion

Director: Carrie Cracknell 

Stars: Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis, Richard E Grant, Henry Golding and Nikki Amuka-Bird

Rating: 1.5/5

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
ASSASSIN'S CREED MIRAGE

Developer: Ubisoft Bordeaux
Publisher: Ubisoft
Consoles: PlayStation 4&5, PC and Xbox Series S&X
Rating: 3.5/5

SPEC SHEET

Display: 6.8" edge quad-HD+ dynamic Amoled 2X, Infinity-O, 3088 x 1440, 500ppi, HDR10+, 120Hz

Processor: 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1/Exynos 2200, 8-core

Memory: 8/12GB RAM

Storage: 128/256/512GB/1TB

Platform: Android 12

Main camera: quad 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2, 108MP wide f/1.8, 10MP telephoto f/4.9, 10MP telephoto 2.4; Space Zoom up to 100x, auto HDR, expert RAW

Video: 8K@24fps, 4K@60fps, full-HD@60fps, HD@30fps, super slo-mo@960fps

Front camera: 40MP f/2.2

Battery: 5000mAh, fast wireless charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare

Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC

I/O: USB-C

SIM: single nano, or nano and SIM, nano and nano, eSIM/nano and nano

Colours: burgundy, green, phantom black, phantom white, graphite, sky blue, red

Price: Dh4,699 for 128GB, Dh5,099 for 256GB, Dh5,499 for 512GB; 1TB unavailable in the UAE

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

IPL 2018 FINAL

Sunrisers Hyderabad 178-6 (20 ovs)
Chennai Super Kings 181-2 (18.3 ovs)

Chennai win by eight wickets

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Floward
Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Founders: Abdulaziz Al Loughani and Mohamed Al Arifi
Sector: E-commerce
Total funding: About $200 million
Investors: Aljazira Capital, Rainwater Partners, STV and Impact46
Number of employees: 1,200

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Carzaty, now Kavak
Based: Dubai
Launch year: Carzaty launched in 2018, Kavak in the GCC launched in 2022
Number of employees: 140
Sector: Automotive
Funding: Carzaty raised $6m in equity and $4m in debt; Kavak plans $130m investment in the GCC

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

Fixtures

Saturday, May 28, United States v Scotland
Sunday, May 29, United States v Scotland
Tuesday, May 31, UAE v Scotland
Wednesday, June 1, UAE v United States
Friday, June 3, UAE v Scotland
Saturday, June 4, UAE v United States

UAE squad: Ahmed Raza (captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, Vriitya Aravind, CP Rizwan, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Karthik Meiyappan, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Alishan Sharafu, Akif Raja, Rahul Bhatia

Table
1. Oman 32 19 11 40 +0.156
2. Scotland 16 11 3 24 +0.574
3. UAE 18 10 6 22 +0.22
4. Namibia 14 7 7 14 +0.096
5. United States 16 7 9 14 -0.229
6. Nepal 12 6 6 12 +0.113
7. Papua New Guinea 20 1 19 2 -0.856

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures