26th of November 2008. It was a good day for the Indian stock markets and to see how was the Dow Jones faring I flipped through the television channel in the gym. Channel 17, and I froze. CNN: Mumbai under terror seize. I forgot about my gyming routine and increased the volume.
At around 10:30 PM tonight open gunfire started in Café Leopold in Colaba. Over time the terrorists have taken up hostages in Hotel Oberoi and Taj Hotel. Foreign tourists have been taken hostages. A police jeep has been hijacked and unprecedented open firing was going on injuring and killing the innocent bystanders in the streets of South Mumbai. Open and indiscriminate firing at Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the main railway station, killed a lot of people. Most heinous of all, hostages are taken up in Cama Hospital which is for women and children. I have heard that people have been killed in the hospital as well… But what do we do? How do we give these terrorists a fitting reply?
Till now 87 people are dead and more than 200 injured. Anti-terrorism squad Chief Hemant Karkare was killed in the shootout. The 54 year old veteran, one of Mumbai’s finest took the bullet on his chest. Additional commissionaire Ashok Kamte killed in gun battle. Vijay Saluskar, encounter specialist, killed in gunfire. These were the men who took care of Mumbai. Mumbai lost five of its finest officers tonight. The Army, RAF have already entered the hotels and till now four terrorists have been killed. But its not yet over, there are more terrorists holed in. There is a fire at Taj Hotel. Hostages are being relieved but they are too dumbstruck to talk. A total of 11 policemen have died and 18 have been injured. But what do we do? How do we give these terrorists a fitting reply?
This is not new. This is not happening for the first time and I know it is not happening for the last time. These hotels are the places where a majority of foreign tourists flocked. Will they come again? What impression will they have of our nation? Colaba market is a favourite hangout for Mumbaikars as well as for the foreign crowd. They have targeted places like the railway station, the hospital, the hotels and the streets. They are killing people… not a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian… they are killing the “aam aadmi” and the “aam aadmi” does not belong to one particular religion. He’s the same “aam aadmi” who lives inside you and me. And the “aam aadmi” is suffering. What is the “aam aadmi” in you doing?
Time and again, Mumbai gets attacked. And Mumbai rises again… what is the other alternative? You have to rise. But what exactly do you get by killing innocents? What exactly do they want? The whole nation, sorry, the world is watching this.
A hand made grenade was hurled in the BP petrol pump in Colaba, luckily the bomb did not affect the underground petrol bunk. I just saw footage of a hijacked police jeep and automatic gun firing near to the camera-man as all the people there ducked to shield themselves from the bullets. As the jeep left, there were injured people. People were screaming; they were frightened. There is no safety at all for the citizens of Mumbai.
One terrorist outfit –Deccan Mujahideen have claimed this as their doing. But what I fail to understand is, what do you get by killing people? What exactly do you get? Every-time our country faces such a situation there would be a terrorist outfit claiming “proudly” that this is their doing. Sometimes they demand a release of one of their kiths from the police custody. But still, I fail to understand what exactly do you get by killing people, killing not people… but innocent people? By disturbing the normal life? And when these in-human creatures are caught, we are not supposed to kill or harm them because we are a democratic nation and we have the Human Rights to ensure that they are not ill treated. My foot!!!
But all said and done… what happens the next day? Is it life as usual? Are we going to go out as if it’s just another day? Are we so fragile that every-time such terrorism strikes us we would rush for the covers? Why can we not protect our homes, our cities, our countries?
The place outside the Oberoi Hotel has pin drop silence. People are scared and they know, that its not yet over. There are still around 15 member terrorists in the age group of 20-25 years active on the 19th floor of Oberoi Hotel. The Army, the RAF and now the NSG have also been called.
The route taken for the ammunitions is via the sea, as abandoned boats were located near Gateway of India.
There are a few questions that we have to ask ourselves.
Are we capable to take care of ourselves?
How long are we going to reel under such losses, time and again?
And last but not the least, what do you accomplish by killing innocents? 70 virgins when you die??? My foot!!!
Somebody needs to educate these fanatics. We really need to know why the youth are taking such a path. I know it would open a Pandora box but we really need to know. I can still hear the gun fire being played by IBN Live. Its exactly 6:50 AM India time as I finish this, but the gun fire is still on.
I don't know whether I'd be able to sleep tonight. Its a shame on humanity.