26/11 : big deal?
Delhi* 29/10/5 :62 dead , 220+injured
Bombay 11/7/6: 209 dead . 700+injured **
Jaipur 13/5/08 : 67 dead 200+ injured
(* there have been many more. Have listed a few that get referred to often
**figures vary depending on source)
Candle lit marches: 0
News channels doing ‘anniversary stories’ :0
So why is such a big deal being made out of 26/11? Because it’s hurt, for the first time, the elite and the privileged? Or because it’s Bombay, the commercial hub of India? Or it’s India’s New York, as one of my twitter friends described it?
Maybe all of the above and maybe none. Why is this event singled out as if it’s our “first” terror attack? Why do we continue harping on what went wrong?
The poor handling by our security forces for starters. Lets get this straight, our forces are not trained or equipped (remember the 303s?) to handle terrorism. We have had terrorist attacks in the past, but the GOI deals with it in isolation and does not put an internal security policy in place, (ATS is toothless, and POTA? The less said the better) one that among other things specifically trains our forces in counter terrorism like the Israelis do. Clearly we learn no lessons from the past. But we do appoint a national security advisor. A career bureaucrat. Not enough qualified DG of police, BSF? Or seasoned defense C -in- Cs with counter insurgency experience? And we give the NSG their own dedicated aircraft so they can rush off to rescue future elite/VIP hostages.
Another point is failure of state machinery. Did we really expect them to be alert enough to prevent this? And are they one year on, better prepared? According to the MNS /Shiv Sena lobby, 350 families migrate to Bombay everyday in search of livelihood. Who is checking their backgrounds? Can a beat constable possibly keep track?
All it takes is Rs.5000 to make a ration card to become a Mumbaikar and be assimilated into the Diaspora.
So a year on how do I feel? Do I feel safer as a journalist from Indian Express asked me? I said,
“I think we have more to fear here than things like 26/11. 160,000 people die on Indian roads every year. 13 deaths every hour. We should be fearful each time we get on a road.
So the answer is -technically no. Don’t feel safe- for a variety of reasons. Yes, one of them is terrorism. However, I am confident our security forces are doing everything they can to prevent another attack, but can they protect us from someone who is prepared to die himself and doesn’t value his own life?
And if not, can one stop living? No. So we carry on regardless constantly, tempting fate. And in the process creating our on destinies. And that’s why people say we bounce back after an attack since our “spirit is intact”.
The answer is we have no choice! How long can we avoid the things that are part of what defines us? Can we avoid railway stations? Or hotels? Perhaps. But a multiplex? Or a Mall?
What we can do is be more alert and have a system that encourages citizens to give information to the police without the risk of being persecuted in return.
As always, awaiting your feedback. Another day, another debate.