‘I need customers, but fear passenger could be a terrorist’November 29th, 2008 - 11:49 am ICT by IANS
Mumbai, Nov 29 (IANS) Naseem looked stoically resigned to fate, neither gloomy nor angry. Reclining in his yellow-black cab in front of a mall in Mumbai, he said terror attacks of the kind that hit the city could happen anywhere and his only fear was that someone hailing his taxi might be a terrorist.”A fear, whether the customer riding in the cab could be a terrorist hiding a bomb in his bag, will now always lurk in the mind of every taxi driver’s mind,” Naseem said.
“I could get only one passenger from the airport (Santa Cruz) the whole of Friday. Normally, I make at least three trips a day,” he added.
Pointing to a long row of taxis that included the two they owned, his friend Maqbool said: “These same cabs have been parked here since early Friday. This has never happened before.”
On Wednesday night, terrorists struck 10 prominent places in south Mumbai, killing at least 148 people and injuring over 327. The terror drama ended Saturday morning after a 59-hour standoff between security forces and the militants.
Now, understandably, there are few people visiting the city, compelling the taxi drivers to idle away time. And they are prepared for a long haul.
“As far as our business is concerned, it will take at least two weeks for the situation to normalise… maybe two months,” Naseem said. “Foreigners and even people from other cities in the country will desist from coming here.”
“The attendance in mosques was also thin Friday, apparently because people know that terrorists strike at crowded places,” Maqbool said.
Since the multiple strikes remained limited to south Mumbai’s posh business borough, routine life remained normal in the rest of the sprawling city’s suburbs. It wasn’t just the clichéd ‘resilience’ of the maximum city.
A kind of recklessness that seemed to defy logic, a gut feeling - that whatever was happening was happening a long distance away and that the terrorists are not likely to come ‘here’ - was unmistakable in the response of many people from Dadar in central Mumbai to Borivli in the northwest.
Theatre and television artist Ajit Kelkar said: “People in Dadar remained indoors Thursday but everything - from vegetable vends to schools to offices and commercial establishment - was open Friday. People moved around in a relaxed manner.”
“For one, there is a feeling that Dadar was safe and paradoxically, there is also a psychological acceptance that a terror attack can happen anywhere any time”, he added.