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5 pm Nov 26, 2012

Remembering 26/11, four years after

Arunoday Mukharji was an eye-witness to the 60 hours of carnage at Mumbai as he reported the ghastly terror attacks for CNN-IBN. Four years down, he looks back at the worst and the most audacious terror strike to have ever struck India.
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8 questions answered | No question pending
  • how the terrorist gone so far against our such big millitary forces? Asked by: p2699
  • Arunoday Mukharji Its a good question and the very basic question that our leadership needs to answer. We have so much of resources so much of infrastructure yet we allow something like this to repeatedly happen, perhaps not at the scale of 26/11 but there have been terror attacks even after that on Indian soil. Like I told the others, we have the cure, but its prevention that we have to develop and I think thats where we need to strengthen our intelligence system. At times we may have the intelligence, but we can't act on it because we simply don't know how to. That's where the bureaucracy needs to educate and make aware everyone from the top to the Constable level staff. But for this it has to start with strong political will, only then can the right instructions percolate down through the system to the grassroot
  • The people who had sacrificed their life are remembered only on every 26/11.The very next day some other news takes its position.Do you think media can help and make people constantly aware of the safety measures to be taken during any such incidents? Asked by: Sreekanth
  • Arunoday Mukharji Well, we can but there's only so much we can constantly make the public aware about. We do have public interest messages whenever there are incidents like these. There are helpline numbers, details of what the public must do or who to speak to in such situations. But there are constraints in 24 hour news television. We have to report what's happening at that very moment all the time, so if its parliament or price rise or cricket or a terror attack, this is our job and part of the profession. But whenever there's an alert, we are the first ones to issue advisories for the public.
  • "A puppet's life ends on a string". The Times of India headline today could not have captured Kasab better.was your FB update on Thursday, don't you think there could have been other ways of tackling the issue since he was already in the custody and convicted, a whole life imprisonment could be enough, instead the govt. and we people should have focused on the larger issue of making better relations with pak and hence tackling the cross border terrorism issue with a combined polical and military effort from both the nations? your views? thankyou Asked by: Nitesh Srivastava
  • Arunoday Mukharji Hi again Nitesh, my update on Thursday had nothing to do with my views on capital punishment. It was simply a compliment to how well the newspaper had managed to evoke emotions very a very clever play on words. It was not meant to advocate capital punishment or denounce it. I will keep my views on that to myself and leave that to another debate, but bottomline, while stressing on bettering relations is a must with Pakistan, this execution had a lot more at stake. It was meant to act as a message, it was meant to address the concerns of all the victims and their families and most importantly this is the law of the land. Kasab went through all the legal processes that India has to offer, he was even appointed a lawyer to defend him, he went up to the President too and if the law in India says, he had to be hanged, then that's it. Its always difficult to hear of anyone die, even the thought of Kasab hanging in the Yerwada prison, but these terror attacks were one of a kind and I think this execution was just a matter of time
  • Hello Mr Arunoday!it must have been a really difficult time for the people hit by the incident, the ones helping them and also you all at the studio, reporting us every detail while we could just watch and encourage you all for the the best effort. four years after that how do you think the grass root problem should be solved, and what can we do from our front? Thankyou. Asked by: Nitesh Srivastava
  • Arunoday Mukharji It was definitely very stressful and emotional for all of us. You see when we are on any assignment we have to detach ourselves from what's happening else we can't report neutrally or give it our best. This was one such incident that constantly tested us, we couldn't NOT get involved in what was happening, when we were shocked it showed on our expressions on air, when we were scared we would take cover on camera, we adapted to the situation as we went along. There is no solution to solving terrorism, there will always be people who will want to create problems but our job is to stay strong and fight back like Mumbai did so well. We must also not allow these acts to divide us in any way. But the larger responsibility lies with the political leadership, which needs to address the root cause, it needs to strengthen intelligence and more importantly ACT on it when it gets it first hand. Educate the local cops at the lowest level who will be the first to be hit by those bullets, they should know how to act on the intelligence at hand, what is it that European countries or the US manage to do and we can't? That's what we need to address
  • You might have experienced the sorrow and fear during those times. Can you put forward any incident which still lingers in your mind? Asked by: Sandeep Rao
  • Arunoday Mukharji I was definitely scared, but at the cost of sounding filmy, I was on duty and as journalists we have to prove ourselves in these moments of crisis. I shared one such experience earlier with someone else who posted a similar query. But I remember once outside the Taj Hotel, my colleague George Koshy and I were standing and reporting with our back to the hotel. While speaking suddenly I saw a flash of light go past my head, the next thing I knew George had pulled me down with him on the ground. We later realized that those were bullets that were flying towards us from the windows of the hotel. That's why you may remember most of us were lying down and reporting. I remember both us kept cover behind a police barricade, it was a challenge to get up and go to the other side towards our OB vans, we had to crawl on all fours to do so. Infact one bystander suffered a bullet injury barely 10 steps away, that's when you realize its all happening for real
  • Why is it that the local machinery is always wanting in such situations. Isn't the state govt. willing to learn ?? Asked by: A.B
  • Arunoday Mukharji My personal opinion is that even with all the big armored vehicles Mumbai purchased and the creation of NSG hubs in other cities, we miss out on the basics. The point where we have to be strong is with intelligence and at the lowest level of the police. Armored vehicles are a cure, where is the prevention? We need greater political will, we need greater incentives for the constable level policemen, those who work on the grassroot, it can't work otherwise. That's why we see repeated acts of terror take place.
  • Do you think that live reporting you did for the channel actually helped terrorist at the other hand to get live view of the situation at Taj Asked by: greatzsp
  • Arunoday Mukharji The 26/11 coverage was a challenge for the media as well. The closest we had ever come to reporting such a non-stop live incident was perhaps the parliament attack in December 2001 and the media was still not as vast as it is now or in 2008. So it was a test for all of us on how we should report. We learnt as we went along the way, we too were getting over the shock of what was happening around us. However, after a Home Ministry advice on the fact that terrorists were watching our reporting and advising their men on the ground accordingly we were issued specific instructions on how to report. So we would report what we saw but left out crucial bits of information. For example we would say that the NSG is planning an assault, but we wouldn't say from which entry point even if we knew or could see it happening behind us. We would keep it vague.
  • when you were out there reporting live,you must have felt to go and help but couldn't because of many constraints...So tell us any such things that you did from your side that you remember as a help to victims Asked by: Harvinder singh
  • Arunoday Mukharji Hi Harvinder, there were many such occasions, but the media had been cordoned off at a distance, so there was no interaction with the victims. I would have loved to play a larger role in whatever capacity I could have. The only thing that I do remember is when the operation was over and we could see the survivors coming out with shock and trauma on their faces, we didn't hound them as the media is usually seen to do. I think what they were looking for was calm after such a traumatic 60 hours. However there was one incident that I'd like to share. While reporting on the 28th towards evening, we experienced gun shots towards us, these were stray bullets which made us duck, but there was a bystander who got hit barely 10 steps away from our team. The bullet ricocheted and grazed his back but he was in pain. We managed to help him up and clear the way for an ambulance so he could be rushed. This was perhaps a small example, the real help came from our NSG, police and heroes from the fire department and also the hotel staff

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Arunoday Mukharji
Principal Correspondent & anchor, CNN-IBN