Once Upon An Atrocity

There’s a thin line between endurance and spinelessness. The people of India, or any other place for that matter, are lauded for being resilient after a major attack or calamity. Well it’s not like they ever had an option. Life moves on and you have no choice but to move on with it.

That last sentence would be a little difficult to apply to the families of those who lost their lives, for absolutely no fault of theirs, exactly a year back in the Mumbai terror attack. In the aftermath of the attacks, the newspaper was awash with soul-wrenching stories of death and destruction. People who came out of it safe were recalling horrifying details, and people who lost a dear one were repeatedly recalling their last conversations. An SMS that was sent by them while being held hostage, or a phone call, or some other event that turned out to be the last contact. Nothing anyone could ever say would console them, because sometimes words just aren’t enough.

And after all this, after the Taj being destroyed and several innocent lives being taken and complete annihilation of our spirit, we haven’t come a long way, even after one complete year. These attacks were a blatant slap on India when 9 terrorists came by boat and created something much worse than mayhem in the beloved city of Mumbai.

Ajmal Kasab, the sole attacker in Indian custody is being treated like a royal guest in the prison. It’s infuriating that he ridiculously demands biryani and basmati rice and throws tantrums in jail, while abusing the workers. It’s difficult to imagine how a man who had taken so many lives a year back can actually look himself in the eye, let alone demand biryani, but that’s beside the point. The fact that he’s a cold-blooded murderer is reason enough to dismiss such questions.

But one does wonder why an advocate was assigned to Kasab. So the Indian law gives everyone a chance to defend themselves. Can the law not be altered for once? Is this just another crime? I’d like to ask the judiciary, what defense they think Kasab has? How will he justify killing so many people and wrecking havoc like he did? Shouldn’t he just be hanged without a trial? Sure it may not be that simple, but there has to be a way, right?

During the latest parliament elections, one SMS that was extremely popular and doing the rounds went something like this, ‘on 26/11, 9 terrorists came by boat and now, 529 will come by vote, so vote wisely.’ It says quite a lot about the image we have of our leaders. We’re comparing them to terrorists, and if this doesn’t shake them awake, it’s hard to say what will.

Running a nation isn’t easy, agreed. But this is plain slacking! I hope nobody is waiting for divine intervention to do something. The central government’s limp attitude is also why Mohammad Afsal is still alive. His death sentence was stayed in 2006 and still remains so. If the man who started firing right in the parliament building is being treated with such inexplicable lenience, then it’s not such a good sign regarding what will happen to Kasab.

The point is, something substantial needs to be done. It’s usually said that people just blame the government and themselves do nothing other than hollow talk. I think it’s the opposite this time around. People do want to do something, they want to change this scenario, the various protests and marches have made it clear that their patience is being tested. But they can’t do anything unless the government really wants to. After all, we, sitting in our homes cant hang Kasab in broad daylight in front of thousands of people, though that seems to be a feasible option right now.

I wasn’t in Mumbai at the time of the attacks. I’m not a resident of Mumbai either. But I stay in Jaipur so I can empathize with each Mumbaikar who wasn’t in the vicinity of the affected areas, but was terrified and enraged and bewildered at what was happening. Nobody I knew personally had died during the Jaipur bomb blasts, but the mere thought that a day back, I might have rubbed shoulders with someone who died left me heartbroken.

Terrorists will never understand that terrorism serves no purpose. It’s ingrained in them. But out leaders do. Somewhere they know that they can be the next target, that they aren’t safe either. We’re a huge country, and we’ve won seemingly already-lost battles before. Even though we can’t bring back those who we’ve lost to the 26/11 attacks, we can still punish their offenders.

Because sometimes, forgive and forget is not how it should be.

Kashika Saxena

[Image courtesy:http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4135513950/]