Just yesterday I had posted colorful,happy pictures of the blooms in my garden and had intended for that to be my last post while I travelled for a week and hopefully gathered more joyous,life affirming scenes on my camera.
Well,that was in the morning yesterday.By evening, things in India had taken an (by now very familiar) unfortunate turn. A very well planned,well funded and well supported from within the country, attack was unleashed on the city of Mumbai last evening. At the moment, of my pounding on the keyboard in frustration, the operation to flush out the terrorists holed up in various locations (mainly 5 star hotels) in the city is going on.
Three senior security personnel have been killed so far. One of these three was Hemant Karkare of the (by now controversial) Malegaon bomb blasts probe by the ATS. The latest count of dead stands at over107 (although the figures vary between different news agencies) and about 400 injured. Even for a city like Mumbai,long a target of the terrorists, this attack has been a shocker.The citizens of the city are speechless in shock and horror at the apparent ease with which batches of terrorists have breached the security of the country and the hotels.
From what has been unfiolding on our television screens for last 35 hours( now) it is clear that extensive preparations had gone into this attack and it could not have been carried out without local assistance.I doubt anyone in India can walk right into a Taj or an Oberoi hotel with grenades and AK 47’s ! The last time I went my small handbag was searched and I was made to pass through a metal detector.
Many hostages,including a group of Israeli guests are being held by the terrorists in one hotel and the scene is no better at other locations.So, what happened?
So far the news is of terrorists having been brought by ship (most likely from Pakistan) into Indian waters and then being brought to the city in batches by speed boats/dinghies. Some who were shot dead by the police at one location had some material including a CD with them that has led to this initial release of information.Given the sensitivity of the communal situation in India, the media is being careful of over- mentioning the Islamic angle(Al -Qaeda,Lashkar-e-Toiba) to this attack.I have no issue with this because the last thing we need in our country now is the communities declaring war on each other.But I also wonder what happened to that need for carefulness in the last month when Hemant Karakare led ATS was busy leaking selective,misleading and often down right false( Samjhuta Express blast) bits of news to the media and whipping up a frenzy of media speculation around the newly coined term,’Hindu terrorism’?
As the nation mourns (atleast some us still do) the fallen security personnel (total number 14) I can not help wondering if Mr. Karkare wouldn’t have been wiser to have investigated the ‘jehadi terrorism’ with the same zeal that he was showing for the Malegaon blast.
I am not denying (like some of our politicians) that some Hindu elements could be involved in those blasts but why was that one blast so important for the investigators when a series of other blasts that have tormented the nation for years, languish,investigated half -heartedly at best? How long will our ruling government, led by the Congress go on playing this dangerous game of being soft on the overwhelming threat of Islamic terrorism unleashed on our country from beyond our borders? Isn’t there any constructive way of wooing the Muslim voters in these pre- election months? Why is the Indian muslim being encouraged to get tarred by the same shameful stain of terrorism by being soft on terrorism and thus making the Hindus more vocal (and maybe more pro-active) about fighting this threat of radical Islam? Even if their is an underworld and mercenary angle to all this,as the media is mentioning,may I ask who shelters these dons? Many of them are in Pakistan and the remaining are the guests of Dubai!!
So far the Hindus who are a majority ( and this is a fact of India) have been very restrained but increasingly the shriller groups in it are gaining space at the centre of Hindu politics.Is this what is the intent? Make the Hindus angry enough to resort to the same methods of retaliation as the aggressor; make the Muslims feel vulnerable by bringing them in the line of criticism for their ‘silent’ endorsement of terrorism and thus pit the two communities against each other?
As I write this, an Indian plumber, with his Muslim, Pakistani assistant are doing some repair work in my house. They are aware of what is happening in Mumbai at the moment as they continue to work together…. but in silence this time ….what is missing is the easy banter in Punjabi that they, usually, indulge in while working. What can these two ordinary men say to each other at this time?
Its the same across the length and breadth of our nation, isn’t it? The average Hindu, living and working with his average Muslim fellow countrymen, as they go about the daily business of trying to eke out a living….but in a wary,uneasy silence?
Who and what will break the silence is the million rupee question now? Will our politicians jump in to reap a bloody political harvest or will some moral men and women amongst them stand up and take a stand against terrorism ( without making it sound like an anti -muslim or anti Hindu stand) and put to the nation an agenda that involves the concept of ‘a secure India for all Indians’.
Or will this go the way of the Parliament attack (where the government won’t execute the main accused) or the Batla encounter way where the death of a police man was attributed to his fellow policemen? Wil the lack of bullet proof jackets (in some cases) again be used by opportunistic and downright evil politicians, as a proof that these fallen heroes were not really killed fighting anti national forces? How many vice chancellors and human rights groups will now stand up( who were conspicous, by their silence, in the case of the army colonel Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya) and make a hue and cry for legal and monetary assistance for those that might be caught alive in the ongoing operations?
Only time will tell but somehow there is not much optimism in my heart that any lessons will be learnt from this ghastly episode.