19 July 2006

How safe are we?

It’s been a week since the Mumbai train bomb blasts have shaken us and I’m as concerned as you are. On the one hand, it was an act of terrorism which led to deaths and injury to many innocent people. On the other, it was a blatant invasion – and violation – of our safety. For, as we go about our daily lives in Mumbai, we don’t expect our lives, nor those of our friends, family and colleagues, to be blown apart at the push of a button by some faceless, nameless terrorist. We expect our days will pass safely, because safety is one of our fundamental constitutional rights. And yet, before us, we have a blatant violation of this right. What are we supposed to do?

Well, find someone to blame it on, of course.

The situation at hand is a bit murky at the moment. As far as media reports go, no-one’s sure about how things stand. Headlines suggest that there are no clues leading to the terrorists involved in the bomb blasts. The Police aren’t sure what explosives were used. Witness descriptions of suspect terrorists are inconclusive. Many criminals – big and small, including some riff-raffs who may have never thought of murder – have been picked up for questioning. Yet, suspect terrorist and informer information hasn’t revealed anything constructive. Still, some reports say, soon the terrorists will be identified and apprehended.

While this is going on, everyone’s formed their own pet theories on why the blasts happened and who were responsible. All fingers are pointing at the Pakistanis, of course, although there’s no proof of it yet. Why? Because the Pakistanis are taking revenge on us for the Gujarat riots, for sentencing to death three terrorists who were involved in the Akshardham Temple killings, for claiming Kashmir as ours, for hating Muslims in general, for not accepting Pakistan as a country… you name it and there’s a theory attached to the Mumbai train bomb blasts and why Pakistan must answer for them.

Some are talking about flushing out terrorists from Pakistan with the Pakistan government’s help. Some are talking about sending in Indian troops and attacking terrorist bases in Pakistan. Some are talking about going to war with Pakistan if terrorist attacks continue on Indians.

How much wisdom is there in all of this?

Then, there’s the question of safety. What is our country doing to make us feel safe and secure from terrorist attacks? How can we be sure that our lives will not be in danger from another bomb attack… or, for that matter, any terrorist attack? Are our defence and intelligence services ready to intercept and eliminate terrorist attacks on Indian soil and make us feel safe again? How safe are we really in our own land?

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