As I write this, the ordeal's almost over. Atleast, the more pressing one that being of the terrorists being killed/caught. More than 60 hours after the start of the attack, apparently things are under control. But beyond the material losses that the attacks have inflicted, it has forced (yet again) to raise a lot of basic questions about the way we are and the we things work. Unfortunately, the price of learning all these lessons is very very costly. Losing top grade officials and innocent civilian lives are just not acceptable. A score of people, with thorough planning and ammunition, has been able to leave a scar behind - not just in the Taj Heritage but also in our souls. Personally, I am still shocked. Not just for what has happened, but more so about what could still happen. What can change? And how? Who is accountable? The politicians? The police? The intelligence? Or we the people?
Five pointers that come to my mind... I would like this to be considered at some level:
1. Let us not please wait for people to die before we realize how important and valuabe they are. The media is all out lauding praises on Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, Sandip Unnikrishnan and others but it is too late after we have lost them. What was done to ensure we never lose them? Nothing. And if this continues, we might lose another set of such brave officers. Equipments, pay system, non-politicization of police system, ramping up the force both qualititatively and quantitatively - all these must be done. On top priority.
2. Let us keep politicians out of the security system please. I was apalled to see Narendra Modi briefing the press. What was the need? He and other politicians should be sitting in their respective houses unless thay can really add value to the process. Rhetorics and gibberish are not needed. There must be a totally insulated national and state level teams to combat terror and pre-empt such actions. A younger, able team consisting of the best among the army and security forces should be given the task, for they are more capable to handling it.
3. Let us, for GOD sake, take some hard actions to prevent anything from happening again. If we are sure that the anti-terror elements have linkages with our neighbouring country, as has been the case in the past.. then let us talk straight and direct and WARN them to do what is needed to ensure these elements do not arise from that side of the world. And, if they cannot do this job, we should be allowed to clean their insides too. It can well be done, if we keep ideologies and international border rules aside for some time. I am not suggesting an attack or a war, but a mutual operation to clean our and their systems. If they have genuine interest in helping us, they won't refuse. They dare not.
4. Let us not sensationalize the terror acts and the operations being conducted by our security forces. I have been watching various news channels trying to find news bytes and boosting their TRPs by reporting not so relevant and sensational pieces of information. Media must be more responsible. They are a very powerful and important tool to set things right, but they are stuck with more petty issues like TRP. To be fair, the coverage could have been worse than what I have seen.. still, it could have been much more responsible. I strongly believe that a half-hourly update at such times is more effective than round-the-clock coverage that creates unnecessary 'noise' all around.
5. Finally, let us NOT take all this in our stride and 'move on'. Damn the Mumbai spirit, which is nothing but lack of a better choice. Let us press for answers and actions. Let us be more active, more responsible, more demanding from the system and people who are supposed to do a better job of governing us. Let us ensure the lives of the martyrs are not wasted amidst political rubbish and vote agendas.
Signing off.. saluting the brave officers who showed the courage to face the terrorists and made sure we are safe. Many die, few live forever in history.