Hit but standing
of us who lived through the Partition riots had always believed
that we could see nothing worse. The massacres in Mumbai were
not on the same scale but just as upsetting because, being in a
more restricted area familiar to us, they hit one where it hurt
the most. It is a city where many of us have spent among the
best parts of our personal and professional lives.
It was leading its
relaxed, cosmopolitan existence when suddenly, out of the blue,
it was being put to the sword by what seemed to be mindless
brutes. Many of us had friends and relatives there, and the
needless death of our colleague, Sabina Sehgal Saikia, leaving
behind a shattered husband and two small kids, brought despair
right into our homes. Perhaps the most poignant remark was made
by her son: "My mother was killed, but so were many others.
So I suppose it is not so bad". A philosophical observation
coming from someone so young left us even more shattered.
Despite the terrorist attack, the Taj retains its glory
instances were bad enough. But having lived near the Taj Hotel
when I was young and newly married, it had special significance
for us. It seemed that like the Everest, it would always be
there, that it was indestructible. It lifted one’s heart. The
Taj continues to stand solid like a rock. Its interiors have
been damaged, and in some places splattered with blood. But
outside it stands, to repeat the phrase since one can take it
literally, rock solid.
Ratan Tata, for
whom it is one of his most cherished landmarks, saw to it that
the National Flag flew at half-mast, and proudly after it was
all over. There were other touches which were typically Mumbai.
The Fishermen’s Union not only noting the coming in of RDX but
also warning the government in writing. A warning which was
characteristically ignored, as was a crucial 24-hour warning to
the Coast Guards.
Our bureaucracy is
bad enough, but when it comes to professional organisations
doing the same, they really cannot be forgiven. As for guarding
our coastline, it will again be one of those too little, too
late cases. It has only now dawned on the authorities that it is
foolish to base our elite NSG in the Capital, and to have it
flown into other crises spots.
It did not even
have a plane standing by but had to wait for one to be flown in
from Chandigarh. This was a criminal waste of time, which led to
loss of many precious lives. For us columnists, it was a
question of how it was covered by the media. I think the media
rose to the occasion, and still before our eyes is that image of
young journalists lying on the ground, including camerapersons,
and risking their lives to let us see it all.
The papers the
next day had details of when and how people, some of whom we
knew, were killed. It made a horrifying picture, especially the
one of a young infant, whose parents were killed but who was
mercifully spared, being held in his arms by an elderly
patriarch. Flashing the picture of his young parents almost
simultaneously brought the tragedy even nearer. There were so
many tragedies even on the streets, let alone elite hotels and
The beautiful city
of Mumbai had, indeed, been held to ransom. We were all poorer
because of it. In this sort of mindless violence, someone has to
steady us by speaking up. One must express gratitude to Prannoy
Roy, who brought us words of anger as well as courage by his
memorable comments under backdrop "Enough is enough".
They were timely and expressed what everyone felt about the
whole sorry situation.