Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Brutal Assault I

Yes, I am a Mumbaikar. I live a normal, non-descript life in a small locality in South Mumbai. I have dreams and aspirations, successes and failures, problems and difficulties just like all you readers out there. However, what I really want as a citizen of the World's most populous democracy is to be allowed to live my small, non-descript and non-lime lighted life SAFELY and in PEACE.

After all, who doesn't? Even the rich and the famous want the same things. I am, in that respect at least, as ambitious or non-ambitious as they are, or the beggar on the street is - which, thankfully, I am not. We all want to live peacefully as we journey through life, don't we? And who is to ensure that we do so? The elected representatives of the country, state, city and locality, of course.

While I am not equipped to understand which aspects of security are "central" matters, which "state" matters and which are within the ambit of the "local municipality", I am certainly sure that all of them failed to stop the three nights and two days of terror that hit Mumbai starting at or around 9:30 p.m. on the 26th of November, 2008.

I must say this at the outset: this is solely my own work, inspired both, by the hours of sitting glued in front of the TV and watching the news channels nearly 12-16 hours a day, and by the reactions of my family and me, as we went about trying to preserve a modicum of "normalcy" in our life.

I was returning from my clinical practice when I saw a few bullet-proof jacketed policemen on the road near J.J. Hospital. Something did not seem right, and when I reached home, I learnt from a family member that there had been firing near C.S.T. railway station. You can then imagine how the next 60-70 hours must have passed. Immediately, I was there before the TV, switching on one of the news channels, and I saw the beginning moments of what became, for me and for millions of others, the worst three nights and two days of my life.

Let me hasten to say that I haven't lost any family member, or property, or had any personal assault upon my physical being, but my mind and heart have been rendered asunder by the devilish actions of the dozen or more individuals who carried out the most fiendish plan almost to perfection. Even their death must have been planned, since they were "fidayeen" who were prepared to die for what they believed was a just cause.

And what did they want? Money? Fame? Perhaps fame, but definitely not money, since they sent an email that asked the government of India to "stop atrocities" and "release all Moslems" from their grasps within jails or incarceration. They wanted the erstwhile Moslem states of India (read Kashmir, Hyderabad etc.) to be released from the sovereignty of India.

And above all, they espoused the cause of jehad.

Is this the right way to conduct jehad? I think no one will disagree with me when we say that terrorists are totally misguided about what they think should be the right form of jehad. Moslem scholars all over the world have denounced terrorism as a form of righteous jehad and condemned those who would choose physical violence as the correct way to influence the world and to change the ways of non-Moslems. I ask you: can a parent forcefully control his/her offspring? Then how can terrorists hope to seek governments to submit to their nefarious suggestions by use of brutal force?

And herein lies the paradox of the tragedy that played out in the past 72 hours in Mumbai. The terrorists came via the marine route with arms, ammunitions and explosives that were so huge in quantity that they could have possibly completely demolished all the three structures that they attacked: Hotel Taj Palace, Hotel Trident and Oberoi (which are actually two separate buildings adjacent to each other at Nariman Point) and the Nariman Building at Colaba. Their avowed plan was to do precisely that: they wanted to injure India so badly that it would never recover economically, politically, psychologically or any other way. They wanted to do all that, and also demoralize every citizen of India. And, additionally, by hitting out at 5-star hotels, they wanted to hurt Americans, Israelis, and citizens from all over the world who had come to India to enjoy its wonderful hospitality.

And, I daresay, they wanted to cock a snoot at the mighty United States of America and show them what they could do – when they wanted, with whomever they wanted.

In my next entry, along with a discussion of how the actual terror played out, I am going to ask several questions to the authorities who have failed utterly. We are alive and the tragedy has passed only because of the valour and bravery of the armed forces, some of whom gave their lives to eliminate the terrorists.

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