Oh God, spare me from media types frothing with indignation over terrorism. They sound the charge, then blare retreat and stab you in the back the moment things get messy.
The Taj is a fixture in the life of Mumbaikers (or Bombayites as we used to call ourselves). Last week, those memories came flooding back as I watched from New York, and saw the Taj hotel on fire.
The terror attack on Mumbai has been called India’s 9/11. For me there is another similarity; like 9/11, this attack hit close to home. My brother worked next door to the Twin Towers, at the World Financial Center, on 9/11 and he evacuated his office staff when the first plane crashed. I knew people who worked in the World Trade Center and some who died there. This time, the tragedy is also personal. My mother’s office is in the Taj hotel (she is the editor of the Taj Magazine). Luckily she was out of town on the day of the attack. My brother-in-law and niece, however, were in their apartment, which overlooks the Oberoi, the other hotel that was attacked. A dozen commandos took over their apartment, positioned snipers at the windows, and began giving and receiving fire. (My niece is keeping the bullets as souvenirs.) And as with 9/11, I know people who have died. The general manager of the Taj hotel, a young man, lost his family.
These kinds of events bring out the best in ordinary people. There are reports of hotel employees taking pains to get guests out of harm’s way, at risk to their own lives. Some of the freed hostages have told stories of the bravery of the Indian armed forces.
India’s 9/11, huh? So India will go after the perpetrators of this carnage, clean out the hornet’s nest whence they crawled, and generally try to change the conditions of the region that led to this barbarity.
And then India will be reviled, spat upon, deemed beneath contempt for its unilateral, thuggish response. It will be condemned in the UN, denounced in every diplomatic quarter, and humiliated with lies and slander in the world press—often by the same “journalists” who earlier encouraged their retribution.
That’s India’s 9/11.
Never mind that India has been living with 9/11s and 3/11s and 7/7s for decades now—and not just in Kashmir. It’s not India’s fault; it’s not even Pakistan’s, nationally speaking. The blame lies with the people who committed the crime, with the people who abetted them, with the people who stoked the hatred necessary to perform its atrocities, with the people who embraced them in their midst.
I’m guessing there are everyday people, religious leaders, and holy buildings involved—and I’m guessing which religion is implicated.
But I doubt the author would want to be associated with such an unpleasant accusation, so let’s leave it at that.