Its more than a week now.
When I see video clips of Mumbai, I find the city back to normal. 26/11 has become history.
Hotels and café were shattered; our defense or rather our ability to defend ourselves was questioned mockingly; innocent hostages were held –some killed, some freed; politicians made their accusations and speeches; eventually the terrorists were killed. Mumbai, and India was free again. My home was safe again.
Just for the sake of a recap: A group of 10 terrorists came into Mumbai via the sea route and targeted important landmarks in my home to hold the hostages. They killed innocents at will. They sent shock waves throughout the community, the country, the world. After almost 60 hours our forces were able to free my home and bring the gun fire to an end. But is it really an end? I do not think so.
From one of the terrorists who was captured alive, it was learnt that this had been a failed mission of theirs. They came here with a target of 5000 in their heads. Not Hindus, Muslims or Christians. Not Indians, Americans or Germans. Just 5000 humans. Period. Going by statistics they achieved only 4% of their target.
I do not care about the nine terrorists being killed, but we lost around 200 people. And this 200 had our bests: The ATS team, the Police force and the NSG Commando, Sandeep Unnikrishnan. These are, sorry were, no are and will always be our bests. Heros don’t die, they are immortals.
But yet we cannot deny the fact that our losses were huge. We lost talent, we lost peace, we lost faith, we lost dreams and most important of all, we lost a sense of security inside our own homes.
A few days later a drama comes to life. The deputy CM and the CM were asked to leave their positions, having failed miserably according to the Congress Working Committee. Heads have rolled, but does it bring us any closer to the solution of the problem? One joker goes to be replaced by another one, and its life as usual. Over the last one week, I have read that the crowd, comprising of the “Aam aadmi” have taken things upto themselves and have held a lot of demonstrations to inform the administration that we are not going to sit down and let terrorists target our homes. That is a good move, but we need the engine to keep moving. Majority of the crowd was because of emotional reasons, we need sustained push towards accountability of the administration.
Some statements that I have heard are, “Close all ties with Pakistan”, “Bomb the terrorist outfits in PoK”, “Remove all the politicians”, “Remove the Z+ security of the politicians”. These were emotional reactions, but some were apt as well. Having gone through this shocking episode deeply, I have my own views on what should or could have been done to prevent such attacks.
Blaming the politicians might be the easiest job to do, but if not a Deshmukh, another one of them would come and rule. Exercising our right to vote and take ownership as responsible citizens would be the first step.
Information from the intelligence department had sent out a warning about an impending attack to Mumbai through the sea. Our guys didn’t take them seriously or they took the terrorists lightly. We cannot have our borders un-secured. This is a serious lapse in the security angle and should attract more accountability. And this accountability should be continued. Today for this mishap everybody is accountable: you and me. What had stopped us earlier from shaking up the administration and asking the questions we are asking now? Let us accept it. We had slept over our duties.
Accountability and ownership are of prime importance at this hour. Our leaders, majority of them, have taken things too lightly; and our leaders replicate us.
Would they have responded to comments like “Bade bade sheheron mein, choti choti baatein hoti rehti hai.” I would want to ask Mr R. R. Patil that would he have made the same statement if his own sons and daughters were held as hostages. I would not wait for an answer. Its quite clear: Accountability and Ownership.
When a leader assumes a post, he takes the responsibility of the nation on his shoulder. At the same time, we as responsible citizens need to (a) elect the right leader, and (b) hold them accountable for their decisions.
We need professionalism at the top and show the same professionalism at our levels as well. Coming back to handling terrorism I have only two basic solutions.
The short term solution points at securing our borders and empowering our intelligence and hitting and bombing the terrorist outfits.
The long term solution points at looking at aspects as to how we can avoid young men and women from becoming terrorists. You and me do not go to Mumbai CST and start firing at will. We would not do even if we had a gun. These individuals lacked the social cover that we all have. Reasons might be many; we need to target the social issues to prevent terrorism. It might be education, stable job, healthy lifestyle, equality in society. We need to address each and every aspect individually.
Terrorism is like a nail. They would grow and they would need to be cut. There would always be a section of unsatisfied individuals who would resort to gunfire. We need to continuously work towards reducing this number of unsatisfied individuals. And being practical I know that it might take more than a decade to reach such an ideal situation.
This time around I would want to invite comments from us on what we feel we should do to reduce terrorism. Write down whatever you feel should help us in making our homes secure and lives peaceful.