When I arrived office on Thursday, Mumbai was the focus of all talks.
Why Mumbai? Has something gone wrong there?
Don’t you know there have been blasts there?
Blasts! When? I did surf the news channels in the evening yesterday before sticking to a Hollywood movie.
It was after 9 in the night.
After 9! That means it is not safe to venture out at night too (The recent blasts had a few things in common – they were on weekends and in the evening, closer to 6).
Are we safe anywhere and anytime?
Deep was the first friend I called in Mumbai.
Arre…blasts are common in India these days. Didn’t you recently have one in your city (he meant Delhi)?
Yeah but they have continued till today. Isn’t that a cause for concern?
Not a bit. Waise bhi I am not going to office today. Isi bahane mid-week mey relax karne ka mauka mil jayega (will get a chance to relax).
But as the day proceeded, his concern was palpable when I called him in the evening that day.
Yaar, I am afraid now. How can this be so prolonged? Also schools, colleges, offices, local trains, and shops too are closing. My parents want me to immediately leave the city.
I had no assurances.
Later in the night, Star Movies was airing ‘Babel’.
Starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, the movie busted the long held belief of Americans that they are a superior race and that they are born to fight all evils afflicting the world.
Brad Pitt finds himself in Morocco with his wife (played by Cate Blanchett) badly wounded by a gun shot by two curious boys (which everyone believes is the work of terrorists).
While the natives attend to the wounded women, there is no help received from the American embassy, not even an ambulance. Even fellow tourists, with who the couple were travelling, refuse to stay any longer, complaining of non functional AC.
At the same time, there is the illegal Mexican help, who saves the life of two American kids, at the cost of her own life.
Why I mention this film now has a reason.
Raj Thackeray and team has forever looked down upon people from the north, especially UP and Bihar. At a time, when Mumbai was undergoing the worst ever crisis, and Raj and goons decided to be mute spectators, it was people from all over India (Maharashtra included) who decided to give their support. The NSG had not the sons of the Maharashtra soil as the only fighter. They were sons of the entire Indian soil. All of us, from different parts of the country, had their eyes glued to our TV sets, waiting with bated breaths, when the bloody battle would come to an end.
The battle of Mumbai is won. But the cost that India has to pay is massive
- 195 dead and over 300 injured.
- Initial cost of attack Rs. 50 Crores (approx)
- Loss of foreign exchange $20 billion
- 10 foreigners among those killed
- 15 police personnel lost their life
- Among them were Hemant Karkare (ATS Chief), Ashok Kamte (Additional Commissioner of Police), Vijay Salaskar (Senior Inspector), Major Sandeep Unnithan (National Security Guards), and two commandos.
And how the policy makers want to compensate for all these losses?
- By making a scapegoat of Shivraj Patil, the Home Minister of India
- By pressurizing the Maharashtra CM and Deputy CM to part with their chairs
- By suggesting a new anti-terror law that is yet to be agreed upon by allies, leave apart the opposition.
- By suggesting more policies that show no immediate effect.
And then follows the reactions of people who have no faith in politicking:
Hemant Karkare’s wife declines any compensation from Narendra Modi. During his living years, he was heading the Malegaon blasts case, the bone of contention for the BJP.
Major Sandeep Unnithan’s father declined to meet Kerala CM.
And then the common man
“After each blast, you tell me this was the last. This was the last time my life was terrorised; life will be safe hereafter, the government assures. Since I have no choice, I go about my life as ever. The media praises me, says that life is once again back on track. And just then there’s another blast – not the last one though”.