Mumbai – or Bombay, as it is lovingly called – is a cultural melting pot. Home to the glamour of Bollywood, it is justly called the city of dreams. Only, these dreams sometimes turn into nightmares.
We recently observed the ninth year since the dastardly 26/11 attacks. In all these years life has moved on for the rest of us. But hundreds of lives changed forever on that fateful day.
We remember baby Moshe – a boy of two, who lost both his parents. And ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who insisted on leading his juniors from the front and bravely took the bullets. Taj GM Karambir Kang lost his wife and two sons in the attack while he assisted the evacuation of guests. God knows how many lifetimes it will take for him to reconcile with his fate. Major Unnikrishnan, an NSG commando is known to have said to his fellows -“Do not come up, I will handle them.” In his photographs, one thing strikes you immediately – the fierce determination of his eyes. This braveheart faced the enemy alone and laid his life for the motherland. The news coverage of his funeral remains etched in my memory. It was heartbreaking to see his mother bent over his casket, senseless.
We shall forever be indebted to these valiant men.
The menace of terrorism has only grown since then. No place in the world is any longer safe – be it the streets of Syria or the chic west. The fight against terror unites the world today. With the human race making huge strides in all spheres, it’s unfortunate that a faction is getting radicalised. These cowards, who’re a shame to humanity- how are they created? How can anyone kill innocents yet retain their sanity thereafter? Perhaps social scientists can help us put a finger on what might have gone wrong with these youths. Is it poverty, illiteracy or disillusionment with life? If so, how do we account for the affluent and educated taking up arms? These are some tough questions whose answers will not come easy. They will require the use of force and tact in equal measure.
There have been a few silver linings, however. Recently, a Kashmiri youth who had pledged allegiance to the LeT surrendered upon the pleas of his mother. Such incidents give us hope that even the wayward can be shaken to their senses. One prays for a time when peace, love and happiness become realities instead of remaining mere utopian delusions. The departed and the bereaved will have attained some redemption then.