Once there was peace and glory
today it’s all burnt.
I clicked this pic in Aug. End 2008, when I was there for a color workshop.
I didn’t know, one day I will not be able to see as it is.
I sincerely wish, pray and safety for all Indians and world.
But the major problem with many such arguments lies in their selective call for looking at the complexity behind the actions of certain agents but not the actions of others. Indeed, those who ask us to acknowledge the complex reasons why Muslims in India, Britain, Iraq, or West Asia may take to violence do not necessarily acknowledge that the actions of the American (or Israeli or Indian) state, or the actions of non-Muslim communities, also need to be looked at in their complexity. To the contrary, in this line of reasoning, the US, Israel, or India are described as monolithic brute hegemons and handmaidens of global capitalism and the actions of these states are often analyzed, somewhat simplistically, as reflections of a simple will-to-global domination, thirst for oil, or thirst for markets.
I have watched a city of a million dreams held hostage by 20 or so men who have purged from their souls every trace of humanity – let's not confer on them the dignity of a religion – and I have felt the blood drain out of me.
I have felt a sense of paralysis and rage. My family and I are safe at home, none of my friends were in the hotels, but I am numb, not with fear or personal loss, but something far deeper: a sense of overpowering bleakness.
More significant is for India to built a robust intelligence agency so that Prime Minister Singh doesn’t wake up to IBN as the rest of the world did. With that in place, I would love to see India develop the tactical ability to intervene at the planning stages. Fantasies of Quantum of Solace-esque covert operations are irrelevant. The point is not to make us feel safe with the regalia, pomp, and circumstance of metal detectors and 3 ounce bottles of shampoo in bins.
The point is to actually meet the threat. Rather than building high walls, rise to the challenge and destroy it. The sneering condescension with which I’m told to take off my shoes and belt won’t suffice anymore. In fact, it never did. Not only do I not feel safe, not only do I know I’m not safe, but I believe my government is failing in keeping me safe, be it in Washington, London, or Bombay.
It differs from most previous attacks in two important ways: in the sophistication of the operation’s planning and the terrorist manpower that must have been involved; and in selecting foreigners as targets: hostage-takers seem to have sought out American, British and Israeli victims. As The Economist went to press, the crisis in Mumbai was still unfolding. Hostages were still held, fires still smouldering at the Taj Mahal hotel and occasional gunfire and explosions still to be heard. It was uncertain who was responsible, though a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen had contacted television stations to claim credit.
As India’s first indigenous Muslim terrorist group—so they have often been described—the Indian Mujahideen are a worrying sign. They seem to have evolved from a decade-long campaign by Pakistan-based militants, including many fighting an insurgency in Kashmir, to incite India’s 150m Muslims to revolt. These groups have been held primarily responsible for half a dozen major terrorist attacks in Mumbai in recent years. In 1993 local Muslim gangsters backed by Pakistan-based militants set off 13 near-simultaneous bomb-blasts in the city, killing more than 250 people. In 2006 another co-ordinated bombing spree on Mumbai’s railway killed over 180 commuters. A Pakistan-based group, Lashkar-e-Toiba, was blamed at the time.
…the perception about India is that it takes these attacks in, as if nothing has happened. Returning to normalcy is an important part of dealing with terror. Preventing terror, and making people feel secured without imposing arbitrary restrictions on their lives, without suspecting individuals because of the collective they may belong to – religion, caste, language – and inspiring a sense of security among those who want to trust the law: these are the things a government must do. And it is in that area that the state has failed its people…
If Bombay maintains its stride, if it continues to exude its characteristic warmth, it is in spite of those who rule it, and not because of them. The spirit of Bombay is a cliché – I have used it in the past, but I mean it as a compliment – and its citizens have earned it, and deserve to wear that medal. The shame is its politicians'.
I was born in Bombay 19 years ago. The neighbourhood you see on CNN, blood splattered across its dark deserted streets is mine. The glass shards from Padminis, Ambassadors, and Mercedes Benzes lie strewn across paving stones on which I have walked. The rumble of army trucks has shaken the foundations of century-old buildings minutes away from my birthplace.
And my birthplace is Bombay Hospital, tonight just one of the locations where those wounded by the ones shot by AK-47 wielding youths are brought. Alan Jones, quoted all over the BBC World Service talks of them in their jeans and t-shirts as they sprayed bullets across the magnificent lobby of the Taj Mahal Hotel. A lobby which I can picture, right now, from memory. I know which ornaments are probably lying across the ground. Across bodies. And the leather sofas and the granite desk with its M. F. Husain mural and the LVMH store and the rug too. Blood-stained? Bullet-ridden?
My pain has been the sight and plight of my innocent and vulnerable and completely insecure countrymen, facing the wrath of this terror attack. And my anger has been at the ineptitude of the authorities that have been ordained to look after us…
And for God’s sake, let us stop reiterating that cliched ”Sprit of Mumbai” retort. Yes Mumbai is strong and resilient and shall not be cowed down by any such occurrence. But let us not conveniently use it as our cover sheet, pull it over our heads and go off to sleep. Because that is what has been happening every time. Incidents of grave disaster have continued to be camouflaged with ‘oh, this is Mumbai, we have a great spirit, we will spring back’. Fine, we will, of course. But who is assuring us that the disaster will not !!
As an Indian, I need to live in my own land, on my own soil with dignity and without fear. And I need an assurance on that.
Condoling the loss of life in separate terror attacks, including on the Taj Hotel, owned by the Tata Group, he said, “We cannot replace the lives that have been lost and we will never forget the terrifying events of last night. But we must stand together shoulder-to-shoulder as citizens of India and rebuild what has been destroyed.”
We ran inside and I messaged my friend Chandrahas. 'Encounter. We're staying in for now.' We thought then it was a gang war, and it would end soon and Rahul and I looked at one another and we thought: This is what we're bringing our children into the world for.
Even then though there was no fear, only worry and stress. This is Bombay we said to ourselves, we fear no gangs, they are part of our bloodstream.
And then we saw the news, and there we were standing in a silent disco called Polly Esthers, our drinks and mouths dry. Every two years our city burns, we thought, as long as there is blood to shed, these people, whoever they may be, will shed it.
We stayed up all night and watched the news. There were six of us. Someone said, who will you call? And I said we were lucky because so many of the people we cared for most were with us. Chandrahas was elsewhere with Nyela, but they were safe. And our friends and family were safe. We were safe.
We hadn’t been there 15 minutes when we heard sounds that we dismissed as construction work or fire crackers. When the boom boom went on and got nearer, it was apparent that they were neither. The staff had secured the doors of the room by now. We were standing in the middle of the room planning our next move, when a glass window that looked out into the main corridor shattered, and shots rang through the room. Instinctively we ducked and crouching, made our way to the service door, which led to an alcove. We crouched there for a minute, and then were ushered by staff through corridors, kitchens and other areas, till we reached the wood-panelled Chambers, an elite, by-membership-only club, whose patrons are the country’s top industrialists. We passed by executive grand chef Hemant Oberoi, who was surrounded by chefs and staff in white, but was gracious enough to smile at us.
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