Monday, July 24, 2006

Mumbai Blasts - It hurts

Maybe it's lack of work or a sense of pathos I cannot explain but I have tried to put down my thoughts on the Mumbai tragedy....... This is a heart-felt anguish...

It was 6.30 in the evening as I got down from my company bus and walked back home, thinking on what to write for my article on Zizou and his Golden F(B)all, when I heard the news – bomb blasts rip through Mumbai. Seven blasts ripped through the Western Railway line right from Borivili to Matunga. About 30 were expected dead (initial reports) and all communication lines were jammed. Just for a second, I thanked my stars that I had left Mumbai 2 months back to come back to my home town Hyderabad. But then thoughts went back to the place that I had started my career in and where I put in 2 yrs of my life.

If one has not lived in Mumbai, one cannot imagine the extent to which the city lives in its local trains. The local train is densely populated and people just fight their way through it day in and day out through the teeming millions. Many office goers leave office late just to avoid being caught in the notorious crowds. I always felt that at the end of the day as I reached my house in Powai wading through the masses, I had successfully completed a Mission Impossible Act (without the special effects). Somehow, all this came back very strongly in my mind as I went through the various news items describing the dastardly act executed by a set of lunatics. They struck where it makes the best logistic strike at the nerve centre of the city, causing maximum damage with minimum ammunition. One shudders to think how many more would have died or been injured in the subsequent stampede that resulted.

My heart goes out to Mumbai as it seems forsaken by almost every element under the sun. First, it witnessed the water-logging fiasco and then the Shiv Sena thugs decided to have a party at the expense of others and now this. Ofcourse, every story talks about the spirit of the Mumbaikars in handling all these events but then that’s more a case of making a virtue out of a necessity. Does Mumbai deserve all this? Nature, society, terrorists everyone’s bunny target, it seems. I suddenly feel a sense of being away from home in the midst of all this.

Investigations would, eventually, reveal the hand of some fundamentalist group but we must be careful not to allow the situation to go out of control. Remember, the 93’ Mumbai blasts was a pre-cursor to all the riots that took place. It is imperative not to allow such a situation to develop once again. Any such violent retribution is no solution; it only widens the barricades we have built between communities. This time it's Mumbai; it could be anywhere tomorrow.........

There’s a sense of helplessness, anguish, grief and anger as I see the news. The earlier blasts did not make me realize the extent of damage (physical and psychological) this may have created but having lived in the city now; there is a sense of outrage and grief at having one of my homes attacked so brutally. The only things I could do are to call people, mail them, perform a silent prayer and probably put down my thoughts to paper and that’s what I am doing – pouring at my anguish against the perpetuation of cruelty by the bloody terrorists. It may be taking time out of our schedules and office work but I think it’s worth it; it feels lighter now………


  1. I liked the line, "...making a virtue out of necessity"; even so, I feel that Mumbaikars deserve a round of applause for their efforts. One requires a very strong heart to see the ripped bodies, and even stronger a heart to be amidst all these and pull the injured and dead people out...after all we are civilians and not armymen engaged in war, who are perhaps more 'used-to' in taking such things in their stride.

    Mumbai being the commercial capital, indeed would always be on the minds of the fundamentalists, rather the anti-socials. This was perhaps to an extent due, not because Mumbai deserved it, but because of the laxity on the part of the law enforcement bodies in Mumbai, and in the rest of the country. In a country where even the seat of power, the Parliament, was not spared, Mumbai (& other cities) for sure will continue to be at the receiving end depending upon the whims and fancies of the anti-socials. But one can always point out that if the commercial capital of the world can be targeted, Mumbai stands a little chance of being safe and unnoticed place on the face of the earth. Granted...

    The outcome of the investigatations still remains to be usual some of the radical groups will be blamed for this act. But the question is for how long will India, or for that matter any other nation that is being targeted by the terrorists, continue to be at the receving end. Everytime our diplomats talks about the spirit of this great nation that holds this country together, that some strong actions will be taken etc... These well documented speeches continues to fool the people across the length and breadth of the country (even the dialogues almost on all occasion remains same). Having said this, I am reminded of the incident when a group of Bangladeshi armymen killed their Indian counterparts in cold blood. And all that the Indian Prime Minister asked for was a letter of apology!!! A nation that gained their independence because of India, can cause harm to us, leave apart the willingness of the nations that have sworn to inflict all manners of harm.

    Also, interestingly, the major funding for world terrorism comes from the people of UK. UK is a country, which by all means cannot be bigger than Bihar, Orissa, Bengal and may be Jharkhand put together; boasting of a security agency of the stature of MI6, and the ianability to trace where these funds are coming from and where they are getting wired!!! I have my serious doubts.

    So long as the America and some European nations continue with their dubious foreign policies, developing nations will continue to be at their mercy. I guess the time has come for India to speak and the world to listen. Terrorism on Indian land will not be tolerated at any cost...given the state in which we are, someday or the other we have to take a stand that may not be catch the fancy of other nations. Question is why not now? Now is the time. Let us not wait for these anti-socials to get even more sophisticated in their approach and cause even more severe harms. Let a generation suffer but let a nation thrive.

  2. I am glad you saw my point of “…..virtue out of a necessity”. I guess I was a bit harsh there but I believe that everywhere here in India, the situation would have continued the same way, e.g., Varanasi came back to normal the next day after the blasts. I am not questioning their ability to help but every news item keeps talking about the Mumbaikar in the midst of all these problems. Every city would help its people; if I can do that in Mumbai, I can do that in Hyderabad also. Every time there’s a disaster, we go about praising the people and then the chaos and indifference returns till there’s another disaster. I would compare it to the road situation in Mumbai where the roads are pretty bad but there’s greater discipline among the drivers but this is possibly paramount considering the road conditions. Sometimes there’s mad rush in wealth creation here that even when one has to stop it goes on relentlessly. Maybe we naturally look at a silver lining every time there’s a problem and so we go on and on about the Mumbai people forgetting the major issues. The very fact that even after a blast, people go to office the next day, does it necessarily convey a strong spirit? Slowing down in life’s also important; gives time to reflect. Recently just browsed through a book “In praise of Slow”. Of course, trust me I am not advocating taking leave the next day…

    I would not look at blaming the Govt. for this. Trains are soft targets and I wonder what can be done about this. Despite the best possible intelligence and counter-attack mechanisms and tacit support of the West, Israel continues to have some terrorist attack regularly. For every successful blast, there would be 5 more such incidents that would have been foiled by the intelligence but we are not aware of that.

  3. Hi,

    No way I was trying to say that you were wrong in saying that too much is made out of the way people behave in emergency, especially in case of Mumbai. I ll tell you of an incident, do not know for sure whether you have heard of this or not. But is inspiring, every time you read it.

    A train got derailed in some part of Punjab. It was time around 11.45 in the night. The nearest station from where medical aid could have been arranged was some 2-3 hours journey from there. The nearby village folks immediately rushed in to help. While they were pulling out the bodies from the debris, they realised that there was accute shortage of light. This further aggavated the problem at hand. The villagers decided to bring in their tractors. They started the machines, and switched on the lights. And with the help of those lights they started pulling out people. The ladies reached the spot with tea, water, whatever they could manage and started helping those who were injured. And soon the nearby field changed itself to a makeshift hospital.

    This continued till the early hours of the morning. Finally, medical aid arrived and proper arrangements were made.

    This happens to be a true story, I read this a long long time back, and do not really remember the most of it.

    The reason we see that all the politicians/media keep bragging about the 'human-spirit' is because they, perhaps, do not want to play with people's emotion, and let some of the people take advantage and causing communal polarisation which can further deteriorate the situation. On the flip-side, I wonder if the constant chanting of 'human-spirit' holds any meaning for the people who have lost some near or dear ones. Does the country owe these people something... justice, by tracking those who engineered this?

    I agree with you on the point that going to office the next day was more out of necessity than choice, at least, for the most of us. I also agree that slowing down on life is also important, but the choice with regard to the timing of it should be voluntary and not forced upon. I agree that these kind of icidents calls for some retrospection, but how far the mind allows you to, amidst all the anxiety and fear, is something to ponder about.

    Anyways, things have started to look better. I was happy to see some people waiting for the trains at the Goregaon station. Life is getting back to normal again, but I am sure it will never appear the same as it used to be, for the people who have lost someone on the 11th of July,2006.

  4. Good Collection- Maneesh