Friday, November 28, 2008

40 demons, 50 hours, 165 lives

More than 50 hours since the nightmare began, leaving Mumbai in the worst grim, the worst gore, the worst gloom of terror she ever faced. It feels like an eon since the last pleasant thought. Endless blood stained, fire gutted and grief struck images of this madness in Mumbai. The final leg of the mopping up operation is in it’s swing. Some respite from the incessant gunshots and grenade blasts after 2 days of baneful darkness. The death doll at a 165 now. The PM has summoned the ISI chief as obvious Pakistani links where traced by the conversational intercepts and I.Ds of the terrorists. There is an influx of international aid, including America's FBI and UK's Scotland Yard.
All strata, the proletariats at the Victoria Terminus and the patricians at the Taj, are equally affected by the terror. Terrorists holed up the buildings, citizens holed up in their houses, there appears a heavy lull in the air. A chill has settled across the city and her hearts, and I don’t mean it figuratively. Disputed numbers of those still inside the hotels, of those dead and of the terrorists keep flashing on my TV screen. Some rumors are afloat about some terrorists being dispersed all throughout Mumbai. Friends and relatives of those taken hostage have come to terms with the obvious, some still pray, some still hope as the military mopping up happens in the hotels. An apparent sense that it’s coming to a stand still after what seemed like an eternal battle. Questions will keep surfacing, disquisitions will begin, the blame game will start, human rights will be discussed, world will watch... and this catastrophe will be remembered for a long long time.
But it’s time for the aftermath to begin now. Because soon the much dormant (and thankfully so) politicians will start pouring in with their accusatory and defamatory statements. The denouements and deconstructions, the debates and discussions have started to begin. Tales of survival and those who succumbed. In between explanations for the laxity in our securities at such a prime location in the city, one burning question remains unanswered - The failure of intelligence not withstanding, why was such an enormous attack unleashed on the city and sustained for more than 2 days?
Various words used to describe this crisis; some say “numbing” ;some say “surreal”.
But one thing is for sure, this is NOT the end. And this is NOT just one of those terror attacks that Mumbai will simply move on from. Optimism befits when terror destroys everything else. And as we face such a horrific attack, optimism isn’t ging to be about 'moving on'. It is now going to be about a radical change. A movement where all the citizens will come together in the wake of terrorism and fight back. Question the system, confront the system, rectify the system. And diplomacy just isn't the way to deal with anything.
I would like to reiterate Shobhaa De’s statement here that NO, we will not stay calm. A slogan will lead us into a citizen’s movement - “Enough is Enough”. A movement where all of us, who take pride in calling ourselves “Mumbaikars” stand together, defying any attack on our integrity as a society, as a city and as a nation. We stand, united and fortified.

image - guests at the Taj use curtains to escape.
courtesy - The Telegraph/AFP
url - click here

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