E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Taat, tedaat, taat….
It takes three loud sounds to start the train of events so well known to everyone by now.
First, a flashing ticker breaking the news on TV screens. Then the images of blood splattered torsos, and broken arms and legs lying all around. Eyewitnesses jostling for space as they narrate the events. TV reporters screaming their reports; sumg Twitterers suddenly sounding a little less self-important.
It takes little to realise that urbs prima in Indus—the most priced piece of land in India, as the plaque calls Bombay at the Gateway of India—has been hit again.
Now starts the replay of a much-watched and scratched video disc.
Wailing ambulances finding it difficult to make their way into the crowded gullies; photographers blithely taking pictures as lives ebb away; police desperately looking for clues and hints in tiffin carriers, cycles, trains and even umbrellas; intelligence “experts” giving rumours on possible casues the required oxygen.
Soon, in Delhi, the Prime Minister breaks his silence to thunderously warn terrorists that India will not tolerate such dastardly acts; the UPA chairperson asks people to maintain peace and harmony; and assorted celebrities asking Bombay to shrug off the latest calamity off and get back to life once the next local train comes.
Very soon, the words “Spirit of Mumbai” will slip out of some Page 3 tongue.
Hyper-nationalists on wi-fi swing in to point out how tiny Israel chases its pursuers and smokes them out. President Barack Obama, whose troops chased and hunted down Osama bin Laden in a foreign country advises restraint even as the New York Times commends India for its maturity.
Two days gone, sketches of the suspects are drawn on the basis of eyewitness accounts.
An intelligence establishment which didn’t have a clue about what was coming now suddenly knows every little detail of how the LeT or IM planned the latest blood bath. Helpful journalists on the payroll push out the story without batting an eyelid and even appear on television to belt out their number.
“Hindu fundamentalists,” says the Congress party’s Idiot-in-Chief in response with an eye on the ballot box.
With the heat on, some mandatory arrests are made; more are promised. And when the charge sheets are about to be filed comes the news that our new best friend and well-wisher across the seas knew about the attack all the time. “Betrayal” is the new cry of the media and opposition.
A few months later comes a WikiLeak cable on how our new best friend and well-wisher knew all along as to what was happening; that it even had a copy of the blueprint but, strangely, was not sure when to give the information or to whom, but had ‘generally’ warned India about the impending catastrophe.
More breast beating.
The security experts go ballistic about how our forces are poorly manned and equipped. This is assuaged by the announcement of some gigantic plans for new offices, new security cameras, new interceptors, new this, new that, not too many of which will see the light of day.
God’s Own Party conveniently forgets that it was its foolish and hasty action in pulling down an old and decrepit mosque that singularly changed the communal atmosphere in Bombay and indeed across India forever, and that the nation continues to pay a price for fit every few weeks and months somewhere.
Finally, the police file the case, the hearings begin and the public prosecutor proves the State’s case beyond doubt. The guilty are named and shamed. The people in general and the victims’ families in particular feel vindicated that justice has been done.
But is it?
After the verdict comes the competitive politics. If we hang the guilty, what are our chances in the next election? If they don’t hang the guilty, what are our chances? And so the guilty sit on the long bench of those seeking a presidential pardon?
United States had only one incident of terror attack and they called it 9/11.
We copied even the way they write a date and called it 26/ 11.
There is now a long and list of months and years of terror attacks to be remembered; 13/7 is only the latest. Which ones shall we remember which ones shall we let pass, before another one is added to it?
Photograph: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today