Fragile Frontiers: The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks
by Saroj Kumar Rath (Routledge, 2014)
BOOK REVIEW by Elias Davidsson, 27 January 2015
Shoddy piece of propaganda
Under “Acknowledgements”, the author informs readers that his book was “commissioned” but does not reveal by whom. Although the book presents the outward appearance of scholarship (several pages of acknowledgments and thanks, maps, hundreds of end notes, a substantial bibliography, a list of abbreviations, a glossary and an index), any person who has studied the 26/11 dossier needs only a couple of hours to determine that the book is basically a presumptuous piece of propaganda devoid of scholarly value.
While the author does not hide his animosity towards Pakistan, this by itself does not exclude the book’s value. Scholarship can be attained despite an author’s bias. Good scholars are able to set their personal feelings aside.
The subtitle of the book is: “The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks.” The author, however, dedicates only a single chapter – Chapter 4 – to the actual attacks of 26/11. In the light of the subtitle, this is surprising. Reading through that chapter one faces a new surprise. While this chapter contains literally hundreds of factual statements or allegations, these are supported by only 18 references. Other chapters, however, are accompanied by far more references:
Chapter 1 (India’s Fragile Frontiers through the Prism of History): 179 notes
Chapter 2 (LeT: From Regional to Global): 161 notes
Chapter 3 (Prelude to Mumbai):140 notes
Chapter 4 (Mumbai outraged):18 notes
Chapter 5 (The After Effect): 55 notes
Chapter 6 (The Motives behind Mumbai): 143 notes
Chapter 7 (The Prosecution): 123 notes
Chapter 8 (The Afghan Conflict, Pakistan Conundrum and India’s Future Security): 27 notes
A good scholar attempts to establish as rigorously as possible the empirical basis of his theoretical observations. The events in Mumbai constitute the empirical basis for the author’s book. Of the 18 sources devoted to the Mumbai attacks, three refer to the author’s interviews with unidentified witnesses, two refer to Vinita Kamte’s book, four cite the Charge Sheet, six cite news media articles appearing between December 3, 2008 to November 26, 2009). Not cited are Kasab’s Judgment, the Supreme Court’s Judgment, testimonies of named witnesses, news reports issued during and shortly after the events and the critical research regarding 26/11 conducted by S.M. Mushrif. The author does not even mention Mushrif’s seminal book “Who killed Karkare” in his long bibliography.
Shoddy books of propaganda regarding the Mumbai attacks have been published before. They do not deserve a review. This book deserves a critical review because the author engages in a double deception: First by suppressing crucial facts regarding the central tenet of his book and secondly by pretending to have written a scholarly work.