The Mumbai Attack Of November 26, 2008


The Mumbai Attack of November 26, 2008, is a national tragedy for India. As a result of the attack, from 160 to 166 people died, and another 350 people were seriously injured (Joshi, 2019). The police and public security systems have demonstrated catastrophic unpreparedness to meet the threat. Subsequently, the state apparatus had to admit its incompetence and carry out reforms in homeland security. This paper aims to analyze the probability of the alternative response to the Mumbai Attack.

Government Response

The attack was carried out by ten people from the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group led by Hafiz Saeed. After the terrorists were stopped, political and governmental measures were taken to strengthen national security. Federal bodies of the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC), and NATGRID, the nationwide information-sharing system, were created (Joshi, 2019). The activities of the Multi-Agency Center (MAC), an intelligence agency clearinghouse, were also revitalized. No less important, four National Security Guard (NSG) hubs were organized in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai to enhance internal security (“India should have ‘Actioned a Kinetic Response’ after 26/11,” 2021). The National Investigation Agency was created to ensure the proper investigation of the terrorism issues.

Domestic and Foreign Policies

As part of domestic policies, the government focused efforts on building more robust coastal and maritime security and increasing the number of inter-agency centers (MACs). Equipping police officers and modernizing the coordination mechanism were other critical steps (“26/11 Mumbai Attack,” 2018). The Youth Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) was created to de-radicalize misguided youth and bring them back to normal life. India tried to put pressure on Pakistan, but there were no proper mechanisms for combating terrorism due to the lack of political will. After the charges were filed, Pakistan said it had nothing to do with the actions of its non-state actors. The international community supported India, and the US Secretary of State and British Prime Minister visited India and Pakistan for diplomatic talks. As a result, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against the Jamaat-ud-Dawaa group, which covered Lashkar-e-Taiba, and both groups were officially declared terrorist organizations.

Unintended Consequences

The governmental response was reasonable, and most experts are unanimous that the terrorists failed to hinder India’s democratic development path. The country benefited from international support and thus has stopped further terrorist threats. Through difficult diplomatic negotiations, India and Pakistan managed to maintain a shaky peace and avoid inadvertently encouraging terrorism (Achom, 2018). Despite provocations in subsequent years, including unfair accusations of terrorist involvement or intentions of Muslims living in India, such critics went unanswered and did not cause the expected aggression.

How Other Countries Were Impacted By the Response

The attention of the international community to the region and the diplomatic presence of the United States and Britain helped to change the situation in the region for the better and prevent the terrorist threat in neighboring countries such as Bangladesh. The terrorist threat from Pakistan has also decreased due to the close attention and control of the situation by the international community. Just as importantly, India mobilized domestic defense resources and improved domestic security.

Pros and Cons of the Governmental Response

Some valuable lessons could be learned from the governmental response. In particular, the countries must maintain neutrality, but India and Pakistan can also begin to establish closer diplomatic ties. This requires diplomatic work and the creation of a diplomatic course, stating the potential benefits for both countries. Improving the speed and coordination of national security systems is also the right thing to do, although there are criticisms of the Coast Guard system and small craft inspections, as well as the security potential in more remote rural areas.

Specific Different Responses

Today Mumbai Attack is part of the political discourse and is perceived as a milestone in the democratic development of the state. There are advocates in the Indian Congress for softer or harder counter-terrorism measures. In November 2021, Congressman Manish Tewari tweeted an excerpt from his book where he opined that a “kinetic response” to the 2008 terrorist threat, for example, direct aggressive responses, would be more effective (“India should have ‘Actioned a Kinetic Response’ after 26/11,” 2021). Notably, calls for stricter action can lead to aggressive action by various groups.

Alternative Response

The terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the Mumbai Attack, was outlawed, and its members who carried out the attacks were killed during an operation to eliminate the terrorist threat in 2008. The Jamaat-ud-Dawa group, which covered up the actions of terrorists, was also outlawed. This means that any actions of these groups fall under the jurisdiction of the international security services, which is the maximum possible guarantee for the elimination of the terrorist threat. Any other measures would be less effective since, so far, there is no alternative international mechanism for combating the terrorist threat.


Thus, it was analyzed how the Mumbai Attack could have been addressed alternatively. Unfortunately, India’s national security system failed to cope with the threat, which led to tragedy. Subsequently, India has streamlined security coordination and strengthened police systems, although Coast Guard systems need further improvement, as do police equipment and rural policing. A diplomatic response to the terrorist threat was the only way to signal the state’s readiness and prevent new attacks.


26/11 Mumbai Attack: Here are the steps taken by the government to improve the security system. (2018). MoneyControl. Web.

Achom, D. (2018). 26/11 Mumbai Attacks: How India fought back – a timeline. NDTV. Web.

India should have ‘Actioned a Kinetic Response’ after 26/11: Manish Tewari in a book; BJP attacks Congress. (2021). News18. Web.

Joshi, M. (2019). India learned valuable lessons from 26/11. But so have terrorists across the border. Wire. Web.