Interesting to see that almost everyone on my blogroll has been moved to post on this incident. No other incident in the past has brought such a spontaneous reaction from almost everyone. Like one report said, this is India's 9/11. I agree that the tragedy is similar in its scale and loss of innocence. What bothers me is we should not bungle up the aftermath like the macho Americans did.
I am an extremely cynical and angry person myself. Yet, I notice that the anger seething through the pages of these blogs and comments far exceeds what I feel. I am sure the emotions in the offline world are even more fiery. It worries me a lot that our instinct is to look at this from a religious fundamentalist angle. Despite all our education and civility, we are unable to decouple these attackers from their rhetoric. Just by doing that we are playing into the hands of people who WANT us to treat this as a religious divide.
This is no more than a law and order breakdown. Period. I wish we would tackle it as such.
The facts are that a group of 26 odd men decided to bully unarmed civilians with automatic weapons, making no demands and issuing no threats. They merely killed who they could, held a small number of hostages and did not go after those who fled. As a modus operandi, it is no different than the everyday psychopath school shooting in the US. Only difference is, there are 26 psychopaths involved instead of just one. We don't go attacking Korea just because one of the psycho students was a Korean, do we?
The way to tackle psychopath killers is to surround them, disarm them and arrest or shoot them. The Bombay police is doing exactly that. I salute them for their efficient and detached handling of this crisis. For them, this isn't about hindu or muslim cops, Indian or foreign victims, jehadi or looney shooters. For them, it is merely a mission to save everyone and "sanitize" the captured areas, as the NSG chief keeps saying.
Unfortunately, the rest of the country is more interested in a different kind of "sanitizing". We are ready to blame an entire community for the savage acts of 25 people from that community. Those who are not ready will be accused of "being soft on terror". In a worse case, it could promote gun culture in India. There will be talks of another partition, a more complete one this time. There could be another such siege, operated by the 'victim' community this time-- and it may well be supported silently by most of us.
The US has been on a revenge hunt for the past 8 years. They have shown the vaporous terrorists how strong they are. The result?
Anarchy in Iraq. More deaths than we even care to count. More deaths than any terror outfit could inflict.
Breakdown in Afghanistan.
More attacks in UK, India and other "allies".
Increased fear while traveling in planes, while calling friends in Karachi, while falling in love with Sakina Bano
Their hard response to terror had the exact opposite impact. The world today is worse off than when we started "sanitizing". This is not a critique of Bush or America or their politics. It is merely an observation of human fragility and our self-destructive thirst for revenge. I know it is hard to forgive. I probably would not if one of mine was trapped at the hotels.
Yet I believe we can only fight terror if we rise above religion and politics. We must not let rhetoric dictate our sensibilities and our humanity. We must not let the masterminds sit back and relish the fracas. We must allow our children to blossom in a magic circle of LIFE.
How we deal with the aftermath would really define the tragedy of 26/11.