I am shocked and bewildered at the audacity of the terrorists in Mumbai, who are holding the country to ransom. As the gruesome drama unfolds live on television channels going berserk, one is left wondering at what might be some of the consequences of this dastardly act.
I woke up this morning to the headlines in the Hindustan Times about terrorists striking in Mumbai and having killed more than 100 people in random firing at public places including the crowded Railway Station, busy hospitals, beaches and finally taking hundreds of people hostage in the landmark Taj and Trident Hotels in downtown Mumbai. Switching on the television, brought the tragedy and horror to ones bedroom.
The first question that comes to mind is that how can something like this happen? How can so many armed men run amok in Mumbai, kill at will, walk into two prominent hotels, take people hostage and set the hotels on fire? Where is our intelligence apparatus, security forces, the police, the commandos, the army, the navy the entire paraphernalia of state security?
The next question that comes to mind is what kind of people are these who are willing to die killing innocent people for a cause, which no sane person knows or understands? Where are they getting the kind of logistics support, which is needed to take on the might and the will of the government of India? Where is the money coming from? Where are these people coming from?
Finally, what can be the possible consequences of this outrage? How do we deal with something like this? How do we bring the guilty to justice and send a message that India is too strong and too resilient a nation to fall pray to the sectarian designs of an unknown and faceless enemy.
It is quite evident that this is a massive intelligence failure. The Indian security apparatus has been caught napping. Planning and executing a strike of this magnitude, would have required massive planning and organisation. Hundreds of people, would have been involved and that, no one in our intelligence system could smell something like this brewing, reflects very poorly on our intelligence gathering apparatus. On a completely different plane and a lot more worrisome is the fact that the alienation in certain sections of our society, is so high that no one breathed anything about this plot to those, who could have done something to stop this.
It is impossible to understand the strange ways in which the minds of terrorists work. I can pretend to understand the purpose of terrorism (spread fear, avenge real or imaginary grievances, highlight religious or political differences, spread enmity amongst communities to reap political benefits etc.) but I am yet to decipher how does a terrorist, the person who actually does these dastardly acts, benefits from this. He usually ends up dead. To be able to recruit a cadre of individuals who are willing to die for a vague cause, equip them with deadly weapons and mount an operation, which involves an amphibious attack on the nerve centre of a country like India can only be done by a vast organisation with money and arms at its disposal.
And finally how do we deal with something like this. Politicians must be tempted to make political capital out of this tragedy. With elections underway in many parts of the country and the general elections not too far away this may seem to be a Godsend opportunity to exploit our differences. I sincerely hope that they do not succumb to this temptation. The fact is that no government anywhere in the world has a foolproof method of ensuring that acts like these never happen. Blaming the government of the day serves no purpose whatsoever. It would be best for our political establishment to stand united behind the government of the day to deal with this menace as best as it can. It would also help for all citizens to unite in recognising what this really is, a dastardly criminal act most likely perpeterated by anti-national elements funded and equipped by hostile powers. To ascribe religious motives and overtones, would be akin to playing in the hands of the terrorists. The government must pursue the perpetrators of this outrage with tenacity and ensure that the people behind this are caught, unmasked and punished swiftly.
It is time for all to stand united. We can really render the designs of the terrorists meaningless only when we stand together in spite of grave provocation and send a clear message that our collective will as citizens of a great nation is far far stronger than that of a motley bunch of cowards.
Pic courtesy the BBC