Is Enough enough
I happened to see the pictures of the Taj Palace Mumbai opening after the 26/11 terror attacks. Looking at the pictures brought back a time when Mumbai was shaken to its very foundations. Being in Colaba at the time, it was a traumatic experience to be stuck in ones house, listening to the sounds of the mortar and gun firing. The boom of grenades going off and imagining what it would be like for those unfortunate enough to be stuck in CST, Nariman House, Oberoi and the Taj. There was a morbid kind of fascination as I sat and watched the TV for the latest update on the attacks. The media played vultures and I was a voyeuristic spectator. It was three days of hell for anyone who lived in Mumbai and by extension India. The speculations and rumours went from Nigerian gang war to hidden bombs and several more terrorists.
It was all over in three days and the terrorists had been killed with the lone Kasab, kept alive to prove the efficiency of our democracy and Judicial system. As the shock wore off the fury came rushing in to replace it. Fury at the criminal callousness of the political class, at the corruption and sheer carelessness that believes that life in this country had little or no value. That we can all be targets. That was the biggest lesson Mumbai learnt. The sheer brazenness of the attacks made us realise that our skills of bouncing back and pretending that all is well was not going to help us. That people can come and kill us like swatting flies at a sweet shop and we would not be able to do anything. And mostly that the people we had elected to protect us were too incompetent and occupied with their own electoral politics to really care about these issues.
This fury came cascading onto the streets of Mumbai in the form of a protest march. On the fourth of December. Hundreds and thousands of Mumbaikars thronged the streets leading to the Gateway of India that day. People of every community were there, venting their anger and grief. The Pakistani’s, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Raj Thackeray and the political class as a whole were all soundly cursed. Hundreds of candles were lit as the throng made its way to the Gateway. The sight of the usually resplendently lit Taj with all but a few lights on caused many to burst out crying as the reality and magnitude of what happened sank in. As the crowd grew, suddenly the Taj lit up. Both the Tower and the Palace switched on their lights. The crowd cheered and screamed. Anger, grief, anguish and hope rent the air. It was an electric moment.
18 Months have passed. The Taj has once again reopened and stuck its thumb out at all those who wished to see this symbol of Mumbai and India destroyed. Its resurrection is an ode to the Tata’s as well as the spirit of those brave employees who died trying to save the hotel and its patrons. But what of all those hundreds of thousands of people who came out that day and vented their spleen on the streets. What are they doing now? Are we being true to the promises we made that day. Promises to take more responsibility in the governance of our country or have we once again gone back to adjusting and pretending that all is well.