Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mumbai Terror - A Week Later

Last week was a nightmare.

As soon as we heard of the assault, we were making desperate calls to check on our friends & relatives in Mumbai, one of whom was a senior manager at the Taj. When we finally got through to him, he was cursing himself for leaving office at 8:30PM. And for the rest of the sleepless night he kept getting desperate calls from friends trapped in the hotel, many of whom were later randomly shooting the corridors and kitchens.

The TV channels have squeezed this tragedy for what it was worth. Now it is disheartening to see print media too go down an all too familiar road - projecting the Mumbai terror-attack on the global canvas and looking for dramatic, quick solutions - bombing raids on the "known camps" in Pakistan, following the dubious US-Israeli model of chasing mirages - a strategy that is only guaranteed to create more suicide bombers.

My guess is that if the Jehadi's are smart enough to plan and execute such an operation, they also know how to lie low until we finish our predictable debates, sack our scapegoats and settle down once again into our usual, pathetic complacency.

If any of the 10 jehadis (or their friends / families) had been at the receiving end in Kashmir (81-90) or Gujarat ('02) , perhaps I could have empathized with their rage and fury. But by all accounts, they just seem to be a bunch of brainwashed kids from the "land of the pure", seeking martyrdom by slaughtering innocents.

Its unfair to rob them of their dreams. Without any further delay, our covert ops guys ought to speedily home-deliver martyrdom to the jehadis, focusing first on the ideologues and rabble-rousers who would not dream of putting themselves in harms way. The kids may yet want to keep Bollywood as an alternate career option. Aerial bombing is best avoided - its a blunt, messy tool - especially across international borders.

Given that this been a spectacular success for the mad mullas, we can be sure that video clippings from Mumbai will be used to train, inspire the martyrs-in-waiting. At least five more jehadis of the same batch must be chilling out somewhere waiting for further instructions from Karachi. So, in the days to come, I am hoping that the IB-RAW spooks will pull up their socks and that the state govts will finally implement the long-overdue police reforms leading up to better trained, better armedpolicemen on the streets within the next few weeks / months.

I'm praying this beleaguered govt doesn't act in haste. We need them to prepare for a marathon and i fear they might be aiming just for a100m dash to the next elections. I'm praying that public anger does not evaporate as it usually does and that something good will come out of this mess.

Afterthoughts -- Worth Reading :

Death Of A Salesman And Other Elite Ironies - Tarun Tejpal, Tehelka - 13 Dec., 2008

"For years, it has been evident that we are a society being systematically hollowed out by inequality, corruption, bigotry and lack of justice. The planks of public discourse have increasingly been divisive, widening the faultlines of caste, language, religion, class, community and region. As the elite of the most complex society in the world, we have failed to see that we are ratcheted into an intricate framework, full of causal links, where one wrong word begets another, one horrific event leads to another. Where one man’s misery will eventually trigger another’s..."

The chatteranti
Shekhar Gupta, Indian Express
, Dec 06, 2008

"...Since TV chat shows, SMS and chain emails have become the main forum of our domestic debate and political discourse among the upper crust, it is safe to go by the evidence of what you see and read there. Any number of illiterate emails and SMSes now float around, not merely cursing politicians, but spreading utter falsehoods about the Constitution and laws...."

The rampaging elephant
Vir Sanghvi, Hindustan Times, Dec 06, 2008

"When the attacks began, I applauded the anger. It did make a difference. Nobody ever loses his job in India because of failure. But such was the public rage that three heads promptly rolled: the Union Home Minister, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Deputy Chief Minister...But now the anger is so diffused and so unconstructive that I doubt if it will achieve anything more. So, what went wrong? Why did we suddenly lose our focus and start striking out wildly in all directions?.."
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