Mumbai Burning

27 Nov


There’s a giant hollow where my stomach used to be and I feel as though my country is at war.

We’ve been bombed before, the people of Mumbai perhaps more than any of us, and we’ve dealt with it and moved on. We’ve become anesthetized to the images of blood soaked roads and ambulances carrying broken bodies. We shouldn’t be, but we are.

This feels different. The mental picture of gunmen landing at the Gateway, physically storming the city, taking hostages at the Taj, the army patrolling the streets… what the fuck is this? I see the images but I seem to have lost the ability to comprehend somewhere along the way. It’s like a bad movie that refuses to end.

And then the thought comes (perhaps too soon – considering the operation is still underway as I write this) that the time has come to play offense rather than just defense. We won’t know for a while if the interim reports about this attack stemming from Pakistan are true, but we all know where the psychological will of Islamic militancy is concentrated right now: Afghanistan. Maybe the time has come for India to do something other than play catch up.

Not that our defense was all that great. The chances that India will soon be embroiled in a formal war are slim, but the chances of another terror attack on its soil is next-to-certain. What India needs, therefore, are not nukes but the best technology and equipment available anywhere to the police. We obviously have the talent, but as always they need political backing to get the job done to the best of their ability. To watch the NSG, the Navy and the Mumbai Police hard at work, despite the ineptitude of the government for which they work, has been the one positive experience of these nightmare hours.

The terrorists are clearly changing their game – from bomb blasts and suicide attacks to flamboyant gun battles and hostage takeovers. Shouldn’t we do the same?


Posted by on November 27, 2008 in News, Politics


13 responses to “Mumbai Burning

  1. A Cynic in Wonderland

    November 28, 2008 at 12:41 am

    absolutely. and the scary part is that it has moved to suicide bombers ( well suicide terror) which is always that much deadlier than the ones where you plant it and run away. the reaction time gets cut down signficantly. yes, we need to take the offensive now.

  2. Hades

    November 28, 2008 at 1:15 am

    I’m angry. And scared.

  3. naren

    November 28, 2008 at 3:53 am

    What we need is the following
    1. Indepenence for police and security services. Their performance should not be evaluated by elected representatives, nor should their appointment be under their control. They should be answerable to a committee of elected representatives. Further, there should be a clear impeachment process in place, as safeguards against custodians running wild. The principle is that elected representatives should be legislators and watchdogs, not executives. Primarily because they don’t know anything.

    2. Accountability: If, say, there is a riot in a city and some innocents lose lives, the police chief will lose his job. Even though he may not have ordered the firing. In turn, he should have the right to fire the local police chief. And so on.

    3. Realistic salaries for the army and police, with a hardship allowance factored in. Perhaps the ATS chief should get more pay than the Joint Secretary for Family Planning.

    4. Cutting edge equipment. And the police and army should be allowed to decide what to buy, rather than Additional Deputy Secretary, Government Supplies.

    Discussion on something like this, perhaps, might be more fruitful than ranting about corrupt politicians, which people have been doing. Rightly, but not fruitfully.

  4. baisakhi

    November 28, 2008 at 5:07 am

    I am angry, humiliated, scared and i don’t know what else… it is nearly 48 hours and these terrorists are still at it. We should put politics aside and think of strategies.
    I am not too fond of Bush and his country but what they did after 9/11 is commendable, not another terrorist attack on American soil.
    De fence is a thing of the past, attack and kill, before they do that to you – should be the call of the day.
    It is a war zone out there and we are at war with terror!

  5. BVN

    November 28, 2008 at 8:54 am

    truly sad!

    but amidst all this, what strikes me is the way the nation has come together. there is no talk about the resilent Mumbaikar, its sad and desperate times!

    and the cops and the commandos…they were just going in with no idea whether they’ll come back…seems 2 NSG’s are down…the heroism of the whole situation…never seen this before

  6. Mamma Mia! Me A Mamma?!?

    November 28, 2008 at 9:37 am

    “The terrorists are clearly changing their game – from bomb blasts and suicide attacks to flamboyant gun battles and hostage takeovers. Shouldn’t we do the same?”

    Oh yes! Please let’s! And can I join too?

  7. Amrita

    November 28, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    In a day or two I think I’ll have something coherent to say. Right now, i’m just glad all of you are safe and that the city is back in control.

  8. memsaab

    November 28, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    It’s really made me so sad. It does feel different; I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been to all those places, but it reminds me a lot of 9/11 which was my home territory, where I’d walked and worked…it feels so evil and so personal somehow. All boundaries seem erased, I can’t explain why. I’ve just heard that a friend’s uncle was killed at the Oberoi, was having dinner there and was just shot point-blank.

    I hope it’s all over soon, and the people of Mumbai can start healing, and helping each other cope.

    God bless the commandos and police for the job they’ve been doing. It’s amazing and heroic for sure.

  9. Vikram

    November 28, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Amrita, this attack was brazen and shocking. But if you think about it, these fidayeen attacks have actually been common in India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. Actually there was a hostage situation in Jammu a couple of months ago. Throughout the 90s these kind of attacks were rife in the Kashmir valley.

    Terror in some form is an everyday reality for many, many Indians.

  10. Aroon R

    November 29, 2008 at 9:04 am

    heyy.. this time the events have really shaken everyone.. till date it was only some bombs at some places like trains or so.. but for a lot of people i mean the upper middle class n above i dont think they ever thought that this kinda thing would get to them also.. i mean most em dont travel in trains or so and when 7-11 happened we were upset and sad but i think this time its really hit us big time..

    i used to be at leopolds so often, during xaviers days i used to live wid a friend in colaba and leo’s, badey miyan were our addas.. Also another scary part was that this time terrorist came out in public and showed their faces which was the scariest part.. That night when it happened i was at work and a friend of mine who works with TOI called me and told that she could hear gun shots.. i thought it was some local gangwar – aka Satya.. when i went to my creative floor all of em were hooked to the tv and then it hit me it were the terrorists,., i was gonna leave in a while but just sat watching the tv .. i had called for a rickshaw but then i didnt go and half hour later the route which i take a taxi blasted .. it was right on the highway.. it was really scary..
    I hope we do something about this, as all the other times we havent done shit…

  11. M

    December 1, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Like most people, I have been glued to the TV and the computer the last few days, I am feeling sad and very scared right now, at the state of the world my cchildren will inherit…we have some family in Mumbai, who frequent these places, luckily they were home when this happened, some colleagues of theirs weren’t so lucky….I can’t say I feel anything about the city itself, to me, Bombay is still the “nuisance stop” I have to make before I get to B’lore, since there are fewer flights to B’lore from the US – I have no memories of the place, and can mostly see only its inconveniences, on my 2-3 day visits…but this time, the attacks somehow seem more scary and close-to-home. Trying to figure out why I feel this way, and no closer to why – am still reading all I can about it, hope something is done this time…

    Sorry, for the (pointless) ramble.


  12. Amrita

    December 1, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    I actually do have memories of all those places as does my ENTIRE family I realized. It really is India’s one cosmopolitan city and to see it this way….

    Aroon – I’m glad you’re ok. I had no idea you were anywhere near the place. I figured you must have already gotten home by then.

    Memsaab – my condolences to your friend’s family.

    Vikram – you know, you’re absolutely right. And it makes me feel ashamed that we’ve accepted this in other parts of India but are shocked when it happens to *US*.

    M – I’m gonna join you on that ramble actually. 🙂

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