Doves to The Slaughter

Over seven years have passed since those catastrophic attacks on the WTC towers. The paranoia that the holocaust had created in its immediate aftermath has long faded from the minds and hearts of Americans as the seven subsequent terror-free years have instilled renewed confidence in the security systems of that country. Contrastingly though, in India, attack after attack on the land and the people has managed to keep the fear of insecurity alive and has reinforced the notion that human life in India is more dispensable than ever before.

The impunity with which a handful of gun-toting and grenade-hurling radicals wreaked havoc on some of the prime landmarks of Mumbai, the Taj Mahal hotel, the CST railway station and the Oberoi hotel has exposed India’s security preparedness in a very poor light before the world. It is a humiliation for the entire nation. How can a citizen of a small city or town feel safe when a few young men with perverted minds come ashore unhindered on a fishing trawler, barge into some of the most prestigious hotels of the country and hold the most prosperous area of India’s most prosperous city to ransom for three long days? Does India not have the capability to protect even the heart of its financial capital from terror? How can a few terrorists occupy a hotel room for days at end, fill it with guns, ammunition and grenades, evading suspicion of the hotel authorities and security agencies alike? How can a couple of terrorists manage to kill three top police officers in cold blood at one spot? How can a few gun-toting men barge into the best luxury hotels of the city and move about so freely within the interiors without facing any kind of resistance? Why did it take 24 hours for the government to decide that special security forces need to be deployed? The answers to many such questions will continue to elude the common man in Mumbai and rest of India as long as the powers that control the safety and security of the country do not think of the nation and its people as their own. Everyone realizes but nobody cares that this horrific assault on India’s dignity is also an attack on its rising economic stature. Love for one’s own land is a trait sadly missing from the political circles. Politicians are busy devising hundreds of dirty strategies to garner as many votes as possible while terrorists plot to wreak havoc on the laity. Mumbai has seen the worst terrorist attack ever seen in this country freezing the entire city and the country as a whole into a state of shock. Yet, some individuals of the government have been treating it as just a one-off event. The statements by the various political leaders are enough to disturb the equanimity of the calmest of persons. Maharashtra Home Minister, R. R. Patil, has stated dismissively that such “incidents” are unavoidable in big cities. He calmly goes on to say that the terrorists had planned to kill many more people than they actually succeeded in doing so. What he means to say by these statements is that (1) the government cannot do much to prevent such “day-to-day” attacks, and (2) since the terrorists managed to kill “only” about 200 people (instead of 5000), the situation does not warrant too much concern. In fact, the minister just stops short of saying that the entire outcry over the incident is totally unwarranted and that “everything is fine”. The Prime Minister’s national address, too, has done little to boost the confidence of even his staunchest fans. At a time when people expected the PM to be aggressive in his response to the attacks and to outline a bold plan to counter future terrorist invasions of the sort, all he did was to mutter a few clich├ęs from the government policy books – statements that contained the usual platitudes such as “we will have zero tolerance towards terrorism”, “we will not let foreign forces destabilize our country”, “I convey my codolences”, “I strongly condemn these acts” etc etc. Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s comments do not even credit a mention. The total indifference of the political establishment towards the sufferings of the victims and their relatives only goes to show how hard core these politicians can be. It is a blatant exhibition of their insensitivity towards loss of innocent human lives. Raj Thackeray and his lot, the so called protectors of Mumbai, are nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they do not see too much political mileage in commenting on such incidents. The honorable president of India, Dr. Pratibha Patil had nothing more than a sermon to deliver in response to the dreadful attacks. She hummed a few philosophical phrases like “we should realize that violence is not right”, “peace is the essence of life” and lots of ridiculous phrases of the kind.

Notwithstanding the incompetence and apathy emerging from the political establishment, tales of heroism and unselfishness galore has gone a long way in restoring the dented pride of our nation. The selfless acts of courage by civilians to save their fellow men, the brave police officers who fell to enemy bullets, the death-defying commandos who laid down their lives for the greater cause will all be forever entrenched in the minds of all Mumbaikars and Indians alike. Politicians who have created created hell for fellow Indians in Mumbai for their own upliftment will have to think twice before calling any Mumbaikar a “North Indian”, “South Indian” etc. Certainly not after bravehearts like commando Gajendra Singh and Sandeep Unnikrishnan gave their lives for the cause of liberating Mumbai from the clutches of the terrorists.

Apart from the few bright spots of valor and selflessness, there is little else to rejoice over. The sense of fear and insecurity in the country is proliferating fast. It is beginning to become more and more evident that the people of India have handed over the reins of the country to a bunch of weak-kneed louts. The country is in dire need of a strong-willed and intensely patriotic leader. We cannot wait and watch as the government continues to frustrate and the country continues to bleed. We have become a nation of sitting ducks for any Tom, Dick and Harry to kill and destroy as and when they wish. Drastic policy amendments, proactive security measures, crushing of divisive politics are the need of the hour. How long can we hope to stay safe when an impotent government talks of peace with its inimical neighbors when these countries take advantage of India’s softness to inflict injury upon injury on its hapless people? Subservient diplomacy with Pakistan and Bangladesh will continue to cost India dear unless it takes swift and decisive steps to neutralize its enemies, wherever they may be. The government spends thousands of crores of taxpayers’ money every year to arm itself against foreign attacks but it has been woefully incapable of protecting its people from the proxy warfare of neighboring nations. What is the use of such expense if it cannot ensure the safety and security of its citizens even in the heart of big cities? Why should India be any different from the US when it comes to protecting the security of its people? If the US can strike at targets in foreign lands on the pretext of American security, why does India go weak in its knees at the prospect of confronting its enemies across the border?
India needs to wake up to its threats big time. Its people must rise above all petty insularities and divisions and work as a mass against all factious elements, both at home and abroad. History has proven time and again that disunity and ineptitude have been the constant reasons for India’s defeat at the hands of foreign forces over the centuries. Today, India is again on the ascendance. We are again confronted with foreign invaders whose sole objective is to cripple our economy and shatter our unity. This time, the people of India will have to ensure that History is not allowed to repeat itself.



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