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Tired of Terror

In the five years that I have lived in this Maximum City of Mumbai, this is the third major incident that has thrown life off gear. While the floods of 2005 exposed the inability of the State Government and the apathy of the Centre to alleviate the plight of the common man against nature’s fury, the blasts of 2006 and the recent commando attacks are issues of national shame raising broader questions about the true role of Governments.

For a fact, I haven’t written about political issues since the turn of the Millennium. Many have asked me on why I write only about Movies or Formula 1 and not on larger issues. The sentiment today reflects my predicament that politics has just become too tiresome. It’s little wonder that most of the usually vociferous pseudo-democratic demons preferred to stay quiet in the comfort of their homes and later come out to shed crocodile tears.

Come Terror Thursday, a mere handful of commandos allegedly belonging to LeT opened fire killing many at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, place that millions of commons use everyday; and proceeded to make the famed Taj Mahal Hotel and the Oberoi their base for the following few days. In an otherwise crowded city, the terrorists carjacked their way to cause mayhem at Cama Hospital, Jewish centre, Leopold and Metro.

Since terror has rocked the city before, beginning from the days of the 1993 blasts, can we really expect some action from the powers that be this time? Maybe yes. The earlier attacks had affected only the helpless common man. This time, business leaders and foreigners were at risk. It is no coincidence that the media has been prominently displaying Taj and not CST where commons who meant nothing had perished.

With the international community including US President-elect Obama saying that India is very much within its rights to take corrective action on erring states, it is high time that we go on an offensive and show Pakistan its place. I believe our forces would be more than willing to destroy the problem state and the home of global terror once and for all. But can we really expect such a bold initiative from our helpless and senile leaders?

Our Government instead reacts in a predictable manner. A speech by a feeble Prime Minister reading from a Teleprompter is actually a message to Pakistan saying ‘we are helpless; attack us as much as you want’. Just like before, India has written to Pakistan seeking extradition of Masood Azhar who was released post Kandahar and the dreaded Dawood. Here, I do not understand sense in using diplomacy with a terrorist state.

So, what happened to all the nation’s resources when the attack happened? I bet people may not have been able to even remember who the Home Minister was; since the well dressed 74 year old who could even get himself elected to the Parliament is never seen working. What was the ill equipped coast guard doing? What ever happened to the Police, the intelligence of IB and RAW? What was the National Security Advisor doing?

For weeks prior to the incident, the ATS and the polity was busy inventing Hindu Terror in the aftermath of the Malegaon blasts conducting repeated narco-tests on some obscure Sadhvi Pragya and the disgraced Colonel Purohit. Earlier in the day on Terror-Thursday, the National Security Advisor wanted a brief from the ATS chief on this jaded issue. Conveniently, those in power chose to ignore larger threats that the nation faced.

As a common man, where do you see our guardians of justice, the cops being most active? Surely, it has to be the traffic signals filling up challans for those jumping traffic lights. To bully an unarmed common man who is just moving around the city to fill his stomach doesn’t take guts. On the night of the attack, false bravado may have led them to move without bullet proof jackets and were sitting ducks for AK-47 armed terrorists.

The Railway Police are usually seen at major stations frisking passengers and their luggage in the name of looking for terrorists. The stories of them harassing outstation businessmen coming in with cash are uncommon. So, where did the bravado and the arrogance of the uniformed thugs go when the real purpose of their posting emerged? Eyewitnesses have reported cops running for cover at CST at the time of attack.

The insensitivity of the Government on the issue is heightened by what we saw on TV about CM Deshmukh visiting the battered Taj with C-grade assembly line Film Maker Ram Gopal Verma and his actor son Reitesh intending a harvest on the compost of the dead. Amidst all this, where was Raj Thakeray? Why didn’t he protest that there were North Indians and South Indians among the NSG and Marcos who saved our city?

To make matters worse, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, RR Patil is quick to dismiss the attack as a small incident. Well, since he enjoys the convenience of Z-plus security, why would he be bothered? In any case Patil is too busy with dance bars and blaming him is too much to ask. Predictably, both Deshmukh and Patil have resigned. But, are resignations really a solution? Or are they a gimmick before the 2009 elections?

And what was the Kerala Chief Minister thinking when he paid a visit to the residence of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in Bangalore, trying to leverage the officer’s Malayali roots. On being turned out in a befitting manner, the Chief Minister chooses to degrade the sacrifice of the brave martyr by saying ‘not even a dog would have visited the house if he were not a slain major’. Well, what else is Achyutanandan worth without the ‘CM’ tag?

Attacks such as 9/11 have shaken the most powerful country too. But, look at what they have done after that. The Department of Homeland Security set up in the aftermath is ruthless and has sweeping powers to do everything possible to curb terror. This is when you need a bold leader like Bush who dared to enter Afghanistan and eliminate Taliban. For moments like these, we need leaders with guts and not spineless theorists.

I really wish our leaders understand that economic prosperity can exist only in peace and sometimes a battle is necessary to achieve this. While a covert attack on Pak may be a tempting solution, it would surely open a can of worms like the Taliban to the US. Despite all the international opposition, India should charge across the border, pluck out the terrorists and kill them without trial. The defense forces would surely find it a treat!

The real question is, are we not capable of governing ourselves? We have a billion people but not one who can lead us effectively. British India taught us to be slaves and we continue to remain so while the polity has turned plunderer. Until the day there is a mass movement against such apathy, the common man shall continue to live in fear counting each day of his life before he could just become a mere statistic! Jai Hind!
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