Updated at 14:41 on Friday, Nov 28, '08...
On Wednesday evening, Chandu calls me to check if I’m okay and says that there has been some firing and a couple of blasts. I thank him for his concern and go to bed with “Some more blasts in town honey… Check the alarm, need to leave for work a bit early tomorrow. G’night.”
But yesterday, I realized that India will never be the same. As we saw the new face of terror - highly trained young men, motivated to kill for a perverse cause, held Mumbai to ransom for more than 40 hours…
I visited NDTV.com for some fresh news and what greeted me was, “Every now and again a player appears on the scene who will change the way the game is played.” That was the banner for RBS, but was so apt for the current situation. Comparisons to 9/11 and other similar attacks, to me, are erroneous. These are not suicide bombers itching to meet their maker. These are motivated, trained, and skilled young men who are out to kill by picking out their targets. They endure for hours on end, killing in abandon while the world watches.
I am not too optimistic about the future and this is why:
No support from the political quarter other than the vultures circling for their free bytes. The only message for them was: See, I am concerned, I love my country, I pay homage to the martyrs. If left to me, I would have been drinking their blood by now. Vote for me.
The Government still does not send out a strong message to the perps... Other than the promise to make them “pay a heavy cost”. The standard statement issued be it a pick-pocket or a terrorist. And to add to it, this is what the world has to say!
The armed forces were, obviously, not given a free hand. 16 terrorists can not hold the might of India’s armed forces. Not when the whole of Pakistan couldn’t hold them back for a few days when we kicked their asses all the way to Lahore in ’65 and after surrendering with more than a 100,000 troops in ‘71! No Way!
The Pak government is clueless at best (and conniving at worst). Despite capture of the terrorists, who claimed to be from Hyderabad while speaking in Punjabi accented Urdu – a clear indication of their origins, they still need evidence. The ex-chief if ISI, in condemning the attack, said that it was foolish if the Pak machinery was involved.
Despite a successful ‘dry-run’ of the crisis management plan, the benefit wasn’t evident. I would leave the post-mortem to the ‘experts’ and just say that I feel the need for a better, actionable, crisis management infrastructure.
My fellow countrymen preferred to go and gawk at the spectacle, causing immense inconvenience to the armed forces, rather than go to hospitals and donate blood…
The international community is apathetic at its best. Despite hard evidence, the west is still reluctant to admit Pak involvement. Musharraff jerked them off for sometime claiming to be an ally and no one knows whom the aid money actually funded…
The event received free publicity and there are probably thousands of young men and boys huddled in caves somewhere in Pakistan, wetting themselves with excitement, wishing hard that it was them, fantasizing that the next one will have them… And training for similar operations.
Our guardians fell to bullets despite wearing bullet-proof vests. When will we ever stop buying sub-par gear for the people who are willing to lay their lives down for us?
Paranoia seizes the nation as rumors of fresh firing at various places in Mumbai start spread like wildfire. Somebody’s idea of a joke has gone terribly wrong!
However, despite all this, there is still hope:
Brave men like Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and their men, who laid their lives down for you and me. As I write, NSG commandos, MarCos, RAF, and other armed services personnel are in a fight to the finish.
We have captured their mother ship, found their boats, and apprehended terrorists in this short span. A tribute to our forces.
Stories of people who’ve shown maturity in the situation, and expressed their gratitude for the people who rescued them, rather than blame the system.
Authorities admitting intelligence failure and promising corrective action. I hope they do something at-least now.
And not the least, in contrast to point 6 above: My countrymen who wave their hands while the cameras pan, shout ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ to cheer up the troops, hold a candle-light vigil for the martyrs, and such rather than be holed inside their homes.
No terrorist, no nation on earth can break the spirit of the people who live in this great country!