I don’t think the Mumbai Terror Attack of Nov 26, 2008, is something that anyone can easily forget – not only Mumbaikars or other Indians, but anyone who has remote connections to India. (Probably the whole world, but I do not know how keenly the World followed the 60-hour drama which claimed a lot of innocent and brave lives.)
Indian Media (with a touch of pride, I suspect) called it India’s 9/11 (“Why does the US have all the fun?!”) and petnamed it “26/11”.
One TV channel carried discussions titled “Enough is Enough”, debating on whether Enough is really Enough, or there is more to Enough to attain the Ultimate Enough.
There were candlelit crowds around Martyr’s Monuments and War Memorials in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and elsewhere, grieving, burning posters of politicians who did not heed the Intelligence flimsies that had hinted at such an attack.
Heads rolled, Ministers were ousted, Resignations, Finger-pointing, Tough dialogue-deliveries and other melodrama were enacted. Everyone stirred and sat up with an excited pounding of the heart to hope (though History has shown repeatedly that in some cases, hope is a misplaced emotion) that a Change is coming. (The Change that did come, happened to land in the US.)
All that lasted for perhaps a month. Or two. People went back to their lives – except those who lost their dear ones, for whom the life that was ripped apart could never be stitched together again. If we start talking about them – the victims, the martyrs and their families – ten blogs won’t be enough.
The Politicians went back to their seats with a sigh of relief: Whew. That was tough, but that is now behind us.
And the lone terrorist who was caught (on camera and) by the NSG? Oh, he is right now enjoying life in some obscure maximum-security prison, stuffing himself with biriyanis and sipping soft drinks, reading books, appearing once in a while to a remote Indian court, weeping and grinning in the public eye, making contradictory statements that the newspapers carry on Page-1, managing to make an absolute mockery of Indian Judicial System, telling himself that “this is the life, back in the village it was Hell”, while folks around the world shake their heads in admiration at the justice even a terrorist gets in the Great Nation of India (he even has an Indian advocate to defend him!).
As always, six to eight months after 26/11, there was a dip in everyone’s interests because nothing worth a paise was happening, Kasab’s court jests retreated to inner pages and smaller columns, and there were other juicy scams, controversies, internal terrorism and gossip to worry about. All of a sudden, very close to the first anniversary, appears Mr.’Head’ley who apparently has a mixed-up Pak-American head on his shoulders, who had been agitating his friends to “retaliate against India” for God-knows-what. So the Press picks it up as well, as a First Anniversary tribute, and runs pages upon pages on him. Will this trail die out the way others did?
A lesson that the media was taught from the 26/11 episode was never to telecast live operations of the kind because the terrorists were getting a live feed of NSG’s movements, whereas the NSG did not have any way of knowing their location. But whether the media learnt their lesson remains to be seen.
God save my Nation.
Post Script. One remembers the justice that Saddam Hussein got; and he was not even responsible for 9/11.