A Defiant India

We Indians ARE in deep anguish and outraged at the latest terror blow in the country. Yet another ordeal on our soil and this time, the usually resilient Indians are vexed. We lived the most harrowing moments of our lives, when a group of twelve terrorists held our country of more than a billion on ransom for more than sixty hours. As the curtain was forcefully pulled down to conclude the gory, well-strategized and repugnantly played drama, we knew we had lost many precious and promising lives. Perhaps, it was the first time in my life that I saw the faces that staged this ghastly and excruciating play. I was helplessly watching those emotionless and cold-blooded ‘actors’ attempting to play their roles to perfection. Did they want to win accolades and applauses? Who would have judged their performances? What would have been the appreciation they received had they reached back ‘home’ alive after colouring the city of Mumbai red? The young terrorist who has been captured alive is expected to answer all the questions that link to the scandalous and appalling performance that his team had put up on the night of 26 November 2008.

We Indians WERE anguished and outraged in the past attacks of terrorism on our soil as well. Interestingly, we were unable to gain an importance and a focus of the world around us then. It is outlandish to tag the deplorable attack on 26 November as ‘Mumbai’s 9/11’ or ‘India’s 9/11’. What is the ‘criterion’ for a terrorist attack to be 9/11? If death toll is the priority, then I should remind the media and to a greater extent the Government of India that we have lost more lives in a dreadful act of terror in the same city of Mumbai earlier. Indubitably, this attack has turned out to be ominous than the ones in the past for reasons more than one. The past terror strikes have been on crowded marketplaces that are mostly occupied by middle class and poor Indians though this time there has been an apparent inkling toward a probable attack on the luxurious symbols of the country. The major terror attack that claimed maximum lives in Mumbai in 2007 has been on the life line of working class Mumbaikars-the train. Then an elite India might have not imagined a terror wallop of this intensity. This attack echoed the impeccable preparation and the copious resources available to terrorists. To western media, the attack would be ‘India’s 9/11’ for it is an attack where foreign nationals were also the unfortunate targets among the populous Indians and to the Government of India, a convenient strategy to divert the attention from their own awful intelligence failure.

We are bereaved at the loss of all lives- lives of Indians and foreigners, lives of Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians, and lives of rich and the poor. This attack is, in fact, the first time that I have felt the wrench of losing a wonderful life. A celebrated journalist and former guest lecturer of my college, who was an alumnus as well, was trapped inside the Taj hotel and ultimately she fell to the bullets of the terrorist- what a disgraceful end to a commendable, gifted life.

There was a blatant intelligence failure on the part of Indian administration. The unarmed policemen of Mumbai made history when they captured a highly armed terrorist by raining lathis or sticks on him. However, an attempt to shift the onus of blame purely on Pakistan is not justifiable. Had India reacted to the intelligence reports, this tragedy could have been evaded. Today, as I read through the media reports across the world, I am struck down by the fact that the attack on India is reduced to just ‘another’ moment of tangible clash in the conflict between the West and terrorists’ claiming to uphold the piety of Islam. The terrorists’ swooped on India’s financial capital and the Taj hotel that stood as an idol of India’s legacy of independence. The recent attack is the latest of series of constant threat of terrorism that has recently gained a kind of momentum that was unseen in the past.

We are sceptical about the intentions of the West. Why did not they act or rather react on previous attacks? We want our Indian government to awaken. The ‘politicization of terrorism’ has been damaging the situation from within the system in India. The right wing Hindu nationalists-BJP- is taking advantage of the situation. Even before the bodies of the victims were removed from the sight, a print media advertisement of BJP called for people to vote them into power to fight terrorism. I was astounded by the utter insensitivity of our politicians. We hope that our government would act. I feel it is daft for anyone to imagine that India would wage a war against Pakistan. That is ridiculous and something that indicates the success of terror groups that intend to halt the peace process between the countries. What remains cynical is the breakthrough that the peace process leads to. After all there is a striking difference between the two democracies. Army in India is controlled by the democratic government but in Pakistan, it is the other way round. So who exactly is India negotiating with and is it worthwhile? We hold up behind democratic government in Pakistan with the only optimism that it is able to make substantial advance in countering the terror network that survives on the soil of Pakistan.

There are reports anticipating likely terror strikes in India, one of them on 21 December in major airports of India. We are not petrified by the reports. As per my schedule I will be flying on that day, and I have decided not to change my itinerary because I believe in the sanity of human lives.

Annapoorna Karthika

[Image source: http://www.daijiworld.com/images1/ani_060608_rons18.jpg]