Mumbai/Bombay/Bomb-bay — who cares about the name when the populace is held to ransom by 25 madmen? Where are the Raj Thakerays, the crusaders, the activists, the politicians and their loudmouth views when the city they claim to be guardians of is held at gunpoint? When will we finally say we have had enough, and finally acknowledge that our country has been under serious threat for the past so many years, while militant organisations planted their seeds, established their presence along the borders, infiltrated the armed forces, hacked security networks?
It was pathetic to see fat cops with antique revolvers and rifles that can at best be used as clubs, tottering on the streets while a police van was hijacked by terrorists wielding AK-47s, right under their noses! Can’t blame the poor guys — they are under-equipped, under-trained and under-informed, I doubt whether many of them could even conduct a fire drill.
A close friend had a narrow escape when some urgent work caused him to miss dinner at Cafe Leopold with his friends, some of whom were injured and are probably even now hiding in the bylanes of Colaba waiting for the chance to return to their families. There are more friends of ours in the thick of the action, and at this moment we pray for their safety.
It was over 3 years ago, though it seems like yesterday, when Hemant Karkare showed me around Vienna and took me to dinner at Cafe Landsmann (if I hv the name right) — pointing out that, much like Kolkata’s Coffee House, this was the place where Viennese intellectuals congregated. Fearless, intelligent and committed to his cause, this noble warrior perished in the line of duty last night; as head of the ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad), he led from the front and once sanity returns to Bombay, his will be one of the most important sacrifices that we shall remember. Until then, I sincerely pray that he has not died in vain, and that we can all fight this menace together.
I am sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, who feel like I do, and who would like to get involved in some concerted action to make our world a safer place. Imagine bringing kids into this horrible horrible world, and not knowing from one day to the next whether they will come home alive — can’t believe how fortunate we have been, to have enjoyed art, music, food, travel — are these to be forgotten in a locked-down realm of living our lives through our computers, scarcely daring to venture outside? And not everyone has even this luxury — most “normal” people must get up and take the local train to work each day, regardless of who is at the helm of this country and what their policies are.