Mumbai, Bleeding!

Friday, November 28, 2008

2 days and nights of terror, blood and gore in Mumbai! And its still not over yet! 160 dead at last count, scores injured, many still missing, families torn apart and a city, a nation and a world aghast at the sheer cold blooded murderous rage of a handful people! 

They stuck India and Mumbai again, this time the scale, coordination, precision and planning is unparalleled! They stuck at 10 places and places in the heart of Mumbai's tourist and financial centres! While all previous attacks were targeted at the average working Indian, this time they also stuck at India's elite and foreigners! If poor and middle class Indians were targeted at Cama Hospital and Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the rich, famous and foreign tourists staying at the premier and upmarket hotels like the Taj Mahal hotel and Oberoi/Trident were also in their gun sights! Those dead and injured were across the cross section of society, religion and nationality! Americans, Germans, Indian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Parsi, poor, rich, middle class, bell boys, policemen, interns, businessmen, tourists, young, old, men, women, children, white, black, brown. You just cannot categorize them! A cruel and ironic reminder that the divisions and categorisations we create do not stand in front of terror, we are all equally the target! 

I came home on the evening of 26th from office and logged in to CNN-IBN to catch the day's news and saw the terror unfolding on the laptop, my first thoughts were of my brother who is working in Mumbai for a multinational and would be returning from work at that time! I called him and was relieved to hear his voice, but a shudder ran down my spine when he said how he passed the flyover at Vile Parle just a couple of hours before a blast ripped through a taxi there! I initially thought these are a kind of serial blasts again, but they innovated this time to cause maximum panic and loss of loves! They fired indiscriminately at commuters at CST, killed top policemen, stole their patrol vehicle and went on a kind of ride around the city just firing randomly at passersby (which was dramatically caught on tape), fired at patients at a hospital and took 2 hotels and a Jewish house hostage! These look like random events, but are all part of a sophisticated, well planned and extremely well executed operation! It makes my gut wrench that I am kind of praising their efforts with those words, but the truth is that they did what they planned to do! 

There are a lot of unanswered questions: Who are these people? How did they manage to sneak into the city undetected by the sea? Was the Govt slow in responding? What took the Govt almost 9 hrs to get the NSG commandos near the buildings? Where was the intelligence? Where were the warnings? If they were, why were they not acted upon? Why were such important hotels so vulnerable and so weakly guarded? These are questions the common man, the media, world governments whose civilians were dead, the victims and their families are asking. As is the wont, they expect the Govt to answer them! But the sad thing is that our Govt has no answers! Its not just about who is in power right now (its another matter that those in power right now presided over almost 50 years of incompetence and some of the bloodiest attacks on our nation, cities and people), but its about the class we keep sending to our parliament and state assemblies year after year and election after election! Just a couple of examples: our very 'articulate' union home minister Shivraj Patil told one of the news channels "By the time I arrived at the place the 
terrorists had left". I think the terrorists missed a chance there to shake hands with his royal highness and take a snap with him! On the other side of the political divide, BJP and LK Advani, although quiet for one long day, clearly lost their patience and launched into a scathing attack on the Govt! What was worse was the way they patted themselves on the back for the way they handled terror during their rule (like escorting terrorists in exchange for hostages). 

The sheer incompetence of this class has been known to Indians for years and we have long lost hoping anything sane from them, but now even the world knows that this glorious democracy we keep touting, this shining India, this resurgent economy, this ancient civilisation is run by a bunch of incompetent, corrupt and care-a-damn jokers! We have scientists who send satellites to the moon at half the cost, we have defence forces who can fight against any army in the world, commandos who are best in the business, best geeks, best businessmen, best of everything, we also have the worst of the politicians! And who elects these glorious bunch? We! 

America suffered the biggest ever terrorist strike ever, it remained the biggest and the only one on its soil! Today, America is perhaps the most hated country in the world, there are perhaps millions of people wanting to attack America, but America ensured that no other attack took place on its soil! Yes we are a more complicated country than America, home to a diverse population, not as developed, but if not action, intent of action can deter many attacks! The intent is what we are missing!

What do we need to do now? I guess thats a whole different story! Perhaps another post! Meanwhile, fingers crossed and hoping that they flush out or kill the remaining terrorists still holed up in the Taj Mahal hotel without any more loss of innocent lives! The Taj Mahal hotel is a glorious structure, I stood gaping at it when I first visited Mumbai from across the Gateway of India. Its the symbol of how Jametji Tata cocked a snook at the uppity colonial govt that refused him entry into a British hotel! It was on fire for 2 days, and is now filled with blood of innocent victims, but still stands in all its grandeur and splendour! Its a metaphor for Mumbai, which is more or less the same now! Mumbai is bleeding! My heart is numb and mind blank!