This paper deploys a discursive approach to the ‘scripting’ of the November 2008 Mumbai ‘terror attacks’ and their aftermath, including ensuing debates about counter-terrorism in India. It explores the perspectives of a range of actors who participated in very different ways in the social construction of the attacks, including media consumers and producers, key participants in public debates, and even the masterminds of the attacks. Important insights into the planning and implementation of the attacks are drawn from phone conversations intercepted by Indian intelligence, between the gunmen and their ‘controllers’. The Mumbai attacks were scripted and staged in a conscious effort to obtain maximum media coverage, which also made the masterminds dependent on the media. The war story created by the media featured violence simply as a means of ‘fighting a battle’, obscuring the significant role of violence as a display of force by both security forces and ‘terrorists’.
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