Thursday, November 26, 2009

First Anniversary of 26/11

Today is 26/11/2009, the First anniversary of horrific terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Last year, on the same day, 10 terrorists from Pakistan landed in Mumbai via sea route and went on to massacre 166 people, taking hostage and injuring many more and bringing the whole country to a stand still before being gunned down in a 60 hour long battle with security forces. Fortunately one of the terrorist, Kasab was captured alive and is now under trial. From last one week, the media was generating momentum for this special occasion by broadcasting special programmes on TV, printing special issues of current affairs magazines and publishing numerous articles in newspapers. Today, many special events have been organised to mark this occasion. I am being convinced that the candle light marches featuring celebrities, prayer meetings, photo exhibitions, police parades, musical events, posters and wreaths laid around the Mumbai city have all been done to pay homage to the martyrs, express gratitude towards those who fought against the evil forces and to salute the spirit and resilience of Mumbaikers. Instead of making my heart bleed for those victims, I am enraged after watching all this. I hate this celebration of sadness and grief. I don’t understand what is achieved by such so called symbolic gestures of tribute and solidarity. I don’t know what does the heart wrecking portrayal of tragedy, personal losses, sorrow, blood and fire in media accomplish for the society. But what I do know is that it does improve TRP of news channels, bring back Page 3 and bollywood celebrities facing oblivion into limelight, leads to more circulation of print media, creates avenues for event management, advertising and PR firms to make money and gives a chance for two top notch five star hotels of Mumbai to give full page advertisements to build their brand image in the name of symbolic gesture of homage and gratitude. The tried and tested formula of 'Suffering Sells' is being repeated again.

In the process we all ignore what we choose to ignore. We ignore that our cities are still as vulnerable to massive terrorist attacks as they were one year back. We ignore that our politicians only provide sound bites for media by making hollow claims about our preparedness to deal with such attacks in future. We ignore that you, me and more than one billion Indians still don’t report suspicious activities in our neighbourhood to police. We ignore the helplessness of the average Mumbaikar and his fear for death while annoying him with accolades for his so called resilience and courage to live. We still believe that our corrupt and inefficient judicial system will punish the accused by next year. And even if Kasab is handed over capital punishment, we still believe our impotent government to send him to gallows when parliament attack accused Afzal Guru is still alive. We forget how our security forces were caught completely off the guard and were acting in total disarray while fighting terrorists one year back. We forget the failure of our diplomacy in putting pressure on Pakistan to dismantle terrorist network on its soil. We forget that our coastline and borders with neighbours such as Bangladesh are as porous as they were before. We forget that slain ATS chief chose to jump into the battlefield with his troops rather than coordinating and strategising movement of them in the battle. We forgive our under staffed and over worked intelligence agencies for failure to prevent the attack. We forgive the top police officials for not following standard operating procedure in dealing with the crisis. Instead what we choose to do is celebrate our tragedy !