It’s November 26. Said to be the day we commemorate what is often called India’s 9/11. The date-month order may be transposed, but even after that bloody (and live) 72 hours nothing much else seems to be.
I still vividly remember the day and the ones following. Came home late, switched on the TV saw tickers running on news channels about some firing in Mumbai. Thought that the gangsters were back in business and turned it off.
The next day came early to work, at around 7:00 AM to find the floor abuzz. But it still didn’t strike me. Everyone seemed busy, no one told me anything. I stepped down for an early morning pee and in the lobby my eyes fell on the six LCD TVs and they were all showing the same story. I stood, staring. A little later, a single word escaped my lips. Fuck!
Rushed back upstairs, turned on the PC, fired up the browser and ingested all that I had missed through the night. The day went off in a daze. Being more of an entertainment-lifestyle journalist this wasn’t exactly my domain. But on days like these, there’s only one beat.
When I returned home late that night, I didn’t think of writing a blog post. I hadn’t even after the July 11, 2006 train bombings (that was earlier India’s 9/11. Unimaginatively termed 7/11. In India we don’t refer to dates in that order). But later couldn’t help, but let it out.
As on July 11, 2006 “I had nothing to say. Numbed. I didn’t want to react. Couldn’t.”
Now a year after the Mumbai terror attacks, I cannot again restrain myself.
On this first anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, more than Kasab & Co. it is the home-bred terror, that people just refer to by other names, that pesters me.
Terrorism isn’t only about firing hundreds of rounds a minute from an Automatic Kalashnikov or triggering RDX to blow up trains. Terrorism is a mind game. The perpetrator tries to instill fear in the minds of the masses. The fear of a violent backlash. And all this isn’t Al-Qaeda, ISI and their ilk’s prerogative.
These are the ‘respectable’ terrorists. The kind that Bollywood stars give obeisance to. This brand of terrorists (or their henchmen) become lawmakers and the upholders of the law stand in attention to give them open-palm salutes.
They threaten, they main, they destroy, they kill and they spread their fear. They terrorise.
And they aren’t restricted to any geographical periphery. In Bombay (Shiv Sena and MNS would like to terrorise me in referring the city as Mumbai), in Maharashtra. They terrorise not for the sake of the language, but for power.
Power, the ultimate goal of terrorists of every kind.
In neighbouring Gujarat, the experiments with state terrorism yielded favourable electoral results. The Communists had almost perfected their cadre-powered terror in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala. Only that in Bengal they now have to confront Trinamool’s brand of counter-terror terror. In north Kerala, the saffron and the red take turns to terrorise the populace.
Terrorism is almost a cottage industry in the North East. The formula is simple: Give fear, take money. To hell with ‘independence’ and ideology (Most terrorists believe in god). But the real terror in the North East isn’t of the gun-toting renegades, it is the seeming innocuous students’ unions and social organisations.
Their fact that there organisations – more often than not – are built around communal lines, their actions frequently result in violent communal conflagrations. Their writ runs large. Bandhs called by them are total (unlike the ones in Delhi), not because of popular support for the cause but their terror. Some such terrorist leaders have moved on to higher politics to become chief ministers and members of the cabinet.
Then there is the age-old terrorist – caste (and of course, religion and culture).
I have been a victim of such terrorism and continue to be so. And so are you, consciously or with you being unaware of it.
Compared to the AK-47 terrorists, it is the bandh-terrorists (for want of a better term) who are more successful. They get name, fame, money, power and in some cases Z-category security, all in their lifetime.
Kasab might also have a multi-crore security cover, but he’ll have to wait to see if the promise of 72 virgins actually holds true.
The media glare fades our memories. The attacks in Mumbai on November 26-29, 2008 might have been the most impactful terror attack on Indian soil in terms of its duration and the resultant international interest. But if we look at the number of causalities, there have been greater tragedies.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, a little list (deaths in brackets):
– June 23, 1985 Air India Flight 182 (329)
– March 12, 1993 Bombay (257)
– July 11, 2006 Mumbai (209)
– November 26-29, 2008 Mumbai (172)
– May 13, 2008 Jaipur (68)
– Feb 19, 2007 Samjhauta Express (66)
– October 29, 2005 New Delhi (60)
– July 26, 2008 Ahmedabad (57)
While it is easy to compile together a list like the one above, it is difficult to put together something similar for the other kind of terror. They don’t require a body count to show off to their masters sitting beyond the borders, their measures are different and vary according to need and greed.
A unfriendly country doesn’t need to fund the militant outfits to create terror and mayhem. For much more and long lasting impact it just needs to donate the right amounts to certain party (and private) funds and union coffers (Who knows, they might already being doing do).
The fear of the AK-47 terrorists is short lived and gets revived after another attack or on an anniversary. But the other terror is sustained and always palpable. The intensity of the terror might vary, but it stays. Often for ever.