The Attack on Mumbai

I feel angry. I can not sleep. The TV still shows the pictures of Taj Mahal Hotel burning, bodies lying on street, blood stains and sounds of gunshot. I felt like this during the Belsan seize, when innocent school children were held hostage. Filled with a WHY in my mind. A terrible dawn, this - the terrible dawn Faiz Ahmed Faiz saw on 15th August 1947. Our country is imploding from a seize within.

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.


Anonymous said…
Hi Supriyo, Your comments are profound and insightful. But they are a third party comment. Ask me = a Mumbaiite to the core what I feel when I see the fire in Taj, the people running scared. It hurts - something inside me has died. My beloved city is being brutalised again. It has been used by various people to push their agendas - we all saw Raj Thackeray doing this for the last three - four weeks. And now it is the terrorists. Everyone seems to be discussing about what has happened - what are we going to do to stop this from happening again? Are we just going to fill blogs or are we going to get on to the streets and demand that our politicians do something about what has happened. We seem to be always ready to march on the streets for religious ceremonies, weddings, protests etc. Are we ready to march for our safety and our security? OR are we going to continue to cower in our houses or worse, pretend it never happened and carry on?
Thanks Friend - I understand the pain and the rage you feel. If it is possible to see any silver lining amidst this sadness, it will be this all new discovery of being Indian again. Raj Thackaray and his thugs look so much like ancient history now, and I can not but feel the bonding with everyone/ everything that I know in Mumbai.

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