The Attack on Mumbai
The day will go down as India's 9/11. The day the fear made a comeback. Terrorists came on boat, and seized, without much resistance, some of our treasured landmark. Held our biggest city hostage. Killed the guests to our country. And, some of our best police officers. And, innocent citizens.
And, all these terrorists were our citizens. Most probably.
All they wanted to do is to play on our fear. Their aim : stoke our idiocy, and start another riot. They tried to strike us down, when the nation is wreathing under the global recession, sustained inflation and all that. They used our weakness - corruption. They played on our biggest problem - religious division.
The media went into a frenzy. Of course, what else will keep people glued to TV all night in this TRP-poor world? They dished out amazing insensitivity, hounding out people visibly shaken and just rescued with meaningless questioning, as if lengthening the conversation will earn them promotions.
The politicians were amazingly ineffective. They had no idea what was happening. They did not share information. They did not show leadership. They did display that they are in control. They said : We don't know what's happening, so stay calm. They said : We would tell you tomorrow what's happening today. We were left free to guess. Police did not make a statement. Rumours filled the city. And, so we are heading into the most dangerous morning in the post-independence India - all we need is a wild rumour to start a riot now.
The police and the Army were brave. They were possibly asked to be silent. But many officers gave their life. Very senior officers. One wonders why though - especially why the Anti-Terrorism Chief had to die. He was clearly a high-value target. Why could we not protect him? Another question that will need clear answers tomorrow.
Is this the end of it? Not really. Yes, we shall kill off the remaining terrorists, or capture them. But we shall live in fear. A template has been established, of holding our cities hostage. It has been so easy. Our corrupt, disinterested society is so porous, so callously exposed. Every Indian city is a target - easy targets. What we will now do is talk about draconian laws and political posturing about which political party is more patriotic. We shall continue to alienate, continue to tolerate and continue to accommodate. All these lives will go wasted. All this education will be forgotten.
Next time, a civil servant asks for a bribe, charge him with terrorism. Next time, a politician vents communal hatred, charge him with treason. Next time, someone tells you to accept things as it is, tell him to remember Mumbai.
We are all Mumbaikars today - silenced in pain, stunned in defeat, but united in the resolve.