I still can’t believe five years have passed since India witnessed one of the most horrific acts of terrorism. I was busy swapping channels one evening when I chanced upon the ‘breaking news’ banner flash frantically on a news channel. A harried reporter was trying to make the world aware of what had befallen Mumbai, the financial hub of India…
I don’t live in Mumbai but the urgency the city displays is a charm in its own right. The Mumbai locals (people as well as the one of the most efficient rail system in the world), the architecture and the history among other things has always drawn me to visit. The last time I was there, I headed towards the Taj Mahal palace hotel, one of the epicenters of the attack. Getting there, I was overwhelmed by the mere sight of the magnificent behemoth, staring out at the ocean in all its might.
Standing there, it is hard to comprehend what went down during those dreadful days when a handful of brainwashed fanatics had taken the entire city hostage.
Though, in reality, the entire country found itself staring down the barrel of a smoking gun.
I found myself staring at the hotel for several minutes, replaying the series of images that showed the hotel burning, the journalists by the gateway of India who were reporting while at risk being hit by stray bullets and the National Security Guards who meticulously planned the entire operation, code named Operation Black Tornado. When I think of it today, I still find it hard to comprehend. It sounds humanly impossible. How could a small group of young men take a city like Mumbai, hostage?
A year ago, one of the attackers who was captured alive, was hanged in a jail in Pune. For the entire country, it was a day of celebration. But was it really?
There are some events that form a permanent mark on an individual or in this case, on the country. This was one such event. The attacker was punished but after a good five years. While most felt solace, several people were quoted being not too happy about the hanging.If you ask me, it was important to set an example. Year after year, most terrorists arrested by the country have been let go owing to hostage ransoms. This was something that had to be done.
Even after five years the city is seen reeling under a cloak of tension. Every tourist spot in Mumbai is found swarming with patrol and armored vehicles. Most places are found equipped with metal detectors and at certain venues, baggage checks are carried out.
Being someone who has never lived in Mumbai, I will never be able to express emotion that is worthy of this incident. However, today, after five years of what is known as 26/11 I feel the need to express what I think of this entire situation.
Stay strong, stay brave Mumbai.
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