This time, Mumbaikars haven’t forgotten or forgiven

December 24th, 2008 - 12:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Dec 24 (IANS) This is a city filled with rage. Scratch the surface of normalcy and you find a Mumbai of 14 million people that is raising the war cry, calling for desperate measures to ensure no one ever again hurts it as badly as the terror assault did a month ago.26/11 is a day etched deep in the hearts and minds of Mumbaikars - a wound they say will not heal easily.

“Our government’s ’soft approach’ is sickening. It can only lead to more such attacks, they will be followed by the usual round of blame game, accusations, candlelight demonstrations and peace marches, then back to business,” eminent architect Hafez Contractor told IANS.

“For how long will the government continue to tolerate these terror attacks that occur with increasing frequency - so many have taken place all over India only during the past six months? Since the whole world knows that Pakistan is involved, India must take some direct action,” Contractor fumed.

Such tough talk comes from a place long known for going about its business with steely determination, even after tragedies.

But this terror attack has shaken this city, known the world over as India’s financial and entertainment capital. Nov 26, the day 10 terrorists struck, brazenly targeting prominent landmarks, holding people hostage and indulging in a 60-hour bloodbath that claimed over 170 lives, has left deep wounds in Mumbai.

The “calm and peaceful” picture of the city in the past month conceals a grim truth - that Mumbaikars are apprehensive about even stepping out of their homes every day, said realty consultant Pagur Desai.

“We have all seen the brutal attacks live on television and everyone is concerned about safety and security. What we fail to understand is why the government is dilly-dallying?”

“We don’t want speeches, we need to crush the recurring problem at the root - the whole country knows where the roots of the evil of terrorism originate,” Desai, director of Kshitij Builders & Developers, told IANS.

India has blamed Pakistan-based terrorists for the attack and asked the neighbouring country to act. But so far Islamabad has refused to even acknowledge that the militants came from its territory.

Bollywood scriptwriter Salim Khan said he is yet to recover from the shock of the attack that was beamed live by news channels all over the world.

“It’s time the government took public sentiments seriously,” he said.

He paid a tribute to the undying spirit of Mumbaikars and insisted that no terror incident would deter the ordinary citizen.

But Khan said he could not understand how, in the name of Islam, terror masterminds brainwash youngsters to carry out such inhuman acts. The lone terrorist caught alive in the Nov 26 attack is said to be no more than 21.

“They claim to be avenging some wrongs perpetrated on Indian Muslims, but who has authorised them to act on our behalf?” asked Khan.

Khan said for a couple of hundred thousand rupees, these youths are promised dreams of going to heaven. “What religion is that? My Islam does not teach this.”

The terrorists spared no one, neither the poor nor the wealthy, neither the Hindu, nor the Muslim. They attacked the busy Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a cauldron of humanity, with as much brutality as they did the opulent Taj and Oberoi-Trident hotels, the haunt of the rich and famous.

Perhaps that is why the city is so united in its anger.

According to Sharad Parekh, who lives close to Mazagon, one of the terror sites, “if our politicians want to win back people’s respect, they must stop talking and start taking serious action”.

“We (Indians) have been subjected to at least six major terror attacks this year alone - Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Malegaon, Assam and now Mumbai. We all know who is responsible for them. Only war will satisfy the people of Mumbai. Unless the government acts, the terrorists will not stop,” asserted Parekh, a retail chemicals dealer.

The man on the street is fed up and wants concrete action.

Housewife Vinita Prajapati feels people have had enough and are “disgusted” with the games of politicians.

She asked: “Why are we still keeping quiet? The terrorists were seen live on TV, other evidences are available with the government, we all know who is behind these terror attacks. It is the right time to teach the terror masters and their supporters a final lesson.”

(24.12.2008-Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)

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