Terrorists Attack Landmarks in Mumbai
Religious and ethnic clashes that pitted Muslims against Hindus and Hindus against Christians broke out throughout India in the summer and fall of 2008. The violence was exacerbated by a series of terrorist attacks largely blamed on Islamic militants, including one in the northern state of Assam that killed at least 64 people and wounded hundreds in October. In total, well over 200 people died in the attacks.
India launched its first unmanned spacecraft in October 2008 for a two-year mission to map a three-dimensional atlas of the Moon and search for natural resources on the Moon's surface.
About 170 people were killed and about 300 wounded in a series of attacks that began on Nov. 26 on several of Mumbai's landmarks and commercial hubs that are popular with foreign tourists, including two five-star hotels, a hospital, a train station, and a cinema. Indian officials said ten gunmen carried out the attack, which was stunning in its brutality and duration; it took Indian forces three days to end the siege. India's police and security forces were ill-prepared for such an attack, which many inside India are calling their own September 11. In fact, Indian sharpshooters were not equipped with telescopic sights, and therefore withheld firing in fear of killing hostages rather than terrorists. In addition, a 2007 report to Parliament warned that India's shores were particularly vulnerable. (The perpetrators reportedly arrived in Mumbai by boat.)
Indian and U.S. officials said they have evidence that the Pakistan-based militant Islamic group Lashkar-e-Taiba was involved in the attack. Lashkar-e-Taiba, which translates to Army of the Pure, was established in the late 1980s with the assistance of Pakistan's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, to fight Indian control of the Muslim section of Kashmir. The accusation further strained an already tense relationship between the two countries. India's home minister in charge of security, Shivraj Patil, resigned after the tragedy. While Pakistani president Zardari first denied that Pakistani citizens were involved in the attack, in December, Pakistan officials raided a camp run by Lashkar-e-Taiba in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, and arrested several militants. Muhammad Ajmal Qasab, a Pakistani and the only attacker who survived the Mumbai attack, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in May 2010 by an Indian court.
Between April 16 and May 13, 2009, India held general elections. The Indian National Congress won 206 seats and will lead a governing coalition called the United Progressive Alliance. The Bharatiya Janata Party came in second with 116 seats. Analysts attributed Congress's repeat victory to the party's ability to balance the concerns of poor farmers in the rural provinces and the urban middle class. Manmohan Singh remains the prime minister.
New Delhi's highest court overturned the ban on homosexuality in India in July 2009. Homosexuality was illegal in India since 1861. Court justices declared the old law to be a violation of human rights and equality outlined in India's constitution. On Dec. 11, 2013, the Indian Supreme Court reinstated the 1861 law. The ruling came after the court determined that the law had been improperly ruled unconstitutional by a lower court in 2009. The Supreme Court ruled that only Parliament had the power to change the 1861 law, which includes a decade long jail sentence for "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal."
In 2011, Anna Hazare, a 74-year-old Indian activist went on two hunger strikes in his quest to force India's parliament to adopt legislation instituting an independent anticorruption agency called a Jan Lokpal, or ombudsman. The first strike, which garnered a great public following, ended after 13 days and an invitation to help draft a Lokpal bill. Mr. Hazare decided the legislation was too weak, which led to his second hunger strike in December, aborted after three days due to health concerns. On Dec. 27, a bill--still deemed unsatisfactory by Anna Hazare--was passesd in the lower house before being indefinately stalled in the upper house.
On July 13, 2011, Indian cities were put on high alert after three bombs exploded in Mumbai's business district during rush hour, killing 18 people and injuring more than 100. It was the worst terrorist incident in India's financial capital since a coordinated attack by gunmen in 2008.