Its been 2 days since the nightmare ended ! Mumbai’s 60 hours of bloody terror may well have concluded …… But is the worst far from over ? One can really not say !
Now that the guns have ceased and the last of the merciless terrorists slain, the political wheels have stepped up to full throttle ! Fingers are being hastily pointed, errors and delinquencies being covered up by scape-goats ! Ministers are being replaced and officials who have had the responsibility of ensuring the safety of our cities are conveniently putting in their resignations ! Within a span of 2 days, the Home Minister is gone, Maharashtra CM and his Deputy CM have put down their papers …and many more would follow suit too ! “Moral responsibility” is what they all claim. But in reality, what better way to wash their hands off and run away from the job at hand, which they had hitherto so ineptly performed !
In no time, we’d have new officials swarming in to fill the vacated posts……and when the terrorists strike again, they’d be replaced too ! But is this the best corrective action the nation can possibly get ? Definitely not ! We’ve been testimony to this for far too long, yet nothing seems to have changed and perhaps, we have not allowed anything to change either ! In the meanwhile, the terrorists continue to move about, operate freely within our borders, and strike us where ever they wish to, in whatever manner they please and at whatever time they chose !
The last few days have exposed a complete failure of our core systems. The ineffectiveness of our Intelligence Agencies, the unpreparedness of our Governing bodies and the vulnerability of our cities have been ignominiously made evident !
Frankly, there’s nothing startling about the vulnerability. We had known about it all along ! The back-to-back terrorist attacks that gripped our country in the last few years, and especially in the recent months, had consistently driven home the fact ! Time and again they’ve had the better of us, and we’ve always paid the price ! They’ve tried to shake our will, but we have survived !
The resilience, undoubtedly is good – it defeats the very purpose the terrorists wish to achieve through their heinous acts. But what’s the point of it all if we don’t learn from our mistakes and take preemptive measures ? We cannot let India be a punching-bag to just hang there and take on blow after blow of madness thrown at us !
Sadly, a little bit of self-introspection would reveal that the repeated attacks on our soil have made us thick-skinned, forcing us into apathy ! Perhaps this is where the resilience comes from ! Even before the candles at the graves of our victims die out, we’d have something new to bother about and a newer attack that the media can focus their frenzied attention upon ! It seems to be in our blood to forgive and condone ! We as a race have been remarkably tolerant, much through our history ! But how much can we really take ?
One thing however, stands out amongst all this madness, and that is the sheer valour and courage exhibited by our men in uniform and all the unsung heroes behind the scenes. These brave men who selflessly plunge into the heart of the terror zones to bring down the forces of evil, are the ones who reinstate our faith in the nation and keep us going !
Scenes of the elite National Security Guard commandos landing on the Nariman House from their helicopters and fearlessly plunging in to bring down the heavily armed terrorists holed up inside, will forever be etched in our minds ! Not to mention the bravery of the police officers or the Marine Commandos who put in the initial fight, or the Firefighters of Mumbai, who battled the blaze without even having the protection of bullet-proof vests, whilst bullets and grenades whizzed by !
I’ve always wondered what goes through their minds when they put themselves in the line of fire, without the slightest hesitation, or a second thought about their future or their families back at home ! Obviously, its the sheer patriotism and sense of duty that motivates them – something that if each of us in this country had, no force on earth would have been able to dent us !
Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte, Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Gajendra Singh and all the other martyrs didn’t deserve to die….and its our duty to ensure that they didn’t die in vain ! Their losses are irreplaceable, and the nation will forever be indebted to them !
ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, who had been at the forefront of the investigations into the Malegoan Blasts, had recently come under the wrath of right-wing politicians who feared the consequences of his unbiased investigations. Yet, when he died, they were the among the first to come forward and try to earn political mileage out of his supreme sacrifice ! Posters have sprung up across Mumbai carrying photographs of the martyred officers, and along side them – the politicians, who from the comforts of their air-conditioned offices, had ordered to put them up ! Isn’t this vote-bank politics at its worst ?
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s funeral took place in Bangalore on Saturday. A 31 year old, Kerala-born, product of Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore; Major Sandeep is said to have been shot dead while trying to shield an injured comrade, during the siege at the Taj. The sight of his mother crying over his body, flashed across all news channels, echoes a billion cries of grief and pain ! Yet, what kind of treatment does his family get from the Kerala CM Achuthanandan ? Nothing, but a much delayed offering of condolence (more from the lure of political mileage and the growing flak from opposition parties, than out of sheer respect), and remarks to the tune of – “If it had not been (Major) Sandeep’s house, not even a dog would have glanced that way.”
Is this what Major Sandeep sacrificed his life for ?
CM Achuthanandan, who had been snubbed by the Major’s father for failing to acknowledge the supreme sacrifice laid out by his son, had turned up at his house in Bangalore a day after his funeral concluded…. much to the opposition of the Marty’s father – who had earlier desisted any politician from entering and desecrating the sanctity of his house. Yet, is this the best manner the CM could have reacted to a bereaved family ?
Reports suggest that the terrorists had arrived by sea from Karachi. The operation itself is said to have involved the hands of Lakshar-e-Taiba, and funded by Dawood Ibrahim, both of whom are harboured within Pakistan. The captured terrorist Azam Amir Kasav, all of 21 years, is said to be singing like a canary ! The terrorists supposedly, had undergone their training in Pak occupied Kashmir, and evidence collected from their satellite phones suggest they were in communication with sources from across the border. The GPS they carried had a return map to Karachi fed into it. Almost every single piece of evidence has a clear Pakistani stamp on it. Yet, how do we tend to act ?
We suspend rail and air links with Pakistan indefinetely ! We call-off cricket tours ! We even go to the extent of threatening to mobilize our army along the Pakistani border. [The last time the Vajpayee Govt. did this, following the 2001 Parliament Attacks, it had cost India 6500 crores of Tax-payer’s money ! ]
Perhaps, it was American pressure, but it is now known that India has ultimately refrained from such an act. Build-up of Indian troops along the border would lead to a reciprocal mobilization by Pakistan. And that would mean cutting down on some of their forces on the Western Front, where they are supposedly engaging the Taliban currently. The US obviously wouldn’t be looking forward to that !
PM Manmohan Singh has rushed the Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon to Washington DC, to brief the Americans about the terror attacks and the evidence we have in our possession corroborating Pakistani involvement. But why on earth do we need approval from the Big Brother to defend or retaliate a blatant attack on our soil ? The Americans had far less substantial [or hardly any] evidence when they decided to attack Iraq. And did they ever consult our opinion ?
We need their expertise, no doubt . We could use all the technological and logistical support from the International community, that we possibly can. There are definitely positive signs though….a team of FBI sleuths have already arrived in the city and kicked-off their investigations. Also, reports suggest that an Israeli team of Anti-terror experts and Forensic Analysts are due to arrive to assist us in the intelligence gathering. This is in spite of India turning down Israel’s intial offer of sending their crack commandos to Mumbai while the siege was on !
Israel had ended up losing 8 of its citizens in the attacks, and by no means is it a nation that would take an attack on its citizens lightly….no matter which corner of earth it is perpetuated upon !
I also happened to read a report on the BBC a couple of days ago, that Scotland Yard officials had offered to send in their experts to help with the Investigations and Forensic analysis, but apparently, even after 48 hours, their request was still stuck at the Indian Interior Ministry, waiting to be cleared – much to the chagrin of the British.
But one does wonder how a bunch of 10 young terrorists could reign so much terror, engage our elite commandos for so long, and force the entire nation on its knees. However, it is evident that these were no mere lads from around the street. They were highly trained, hardened and motivated terrorists, who had come prepared to die and determined to kill until their last breaths. The fact that they kept innocent civilian hostages as shields didn’t help either.
There’s no doubt that these youngsters had been radically brainwashed to the core, and perhaps may have even believed that their deaths would earn them 1-way tickets to an eternity in heaven …… with 72 virgins thrown in, as well ! I read a user-comment to an article on Rediff that said that the only way to humiliate the slain terrorists is to bury their bodies alongside pigs. That would, supposedly ensure that they go to hell.
A friend recently had this on his status message on Gtalk – “Its up to God on whether to forgive the terrorists or not, but fixing them an appointment with God is our job” !!!