Today is the 6th day after the terror attack in Mumbai and it is already 3 days since the terrorists were neutralized. Now I look back and try to recollect the happenings of those unforgettable 3 days of terror in Mumbai. I am sure this is going to be a long post as the incident was also one of the longest ever in the history of anti-terror activity.
Nov 27, Thursday started on a very sombre note when my father told me about the terror strike in Mumbai which has been going on since Wednesday night. Immediately I switched on the TV to find out what is happening and I was surprised to see that there is a "live" coverage of the terror strike from Mumbai. It looked like a cricket match when you hear live coverage. TV Anchors across news stations NDTV, Times Now and CNN IBN were vying with one another to bring up the latest developments in Taj, Oberoi and Nariman House. Hearing and seeing this, I was totally depressed and felt helpless. I was asking myself how a group of 10-20 people can take the entire city like Mumbai to ransom. The terror strike within these hotels continued unabated with sporadic gunshots and grenade blasts. Fire erupted more than three times across various rooms of Taj and Oberoi adding to the panic.
The TV channels were trying their best not to show sensitive photographs or footage. They also completely refrained from starting the blame game. We all should appreciate the efforts of the TV channels in this regard as otherwise it could have led to other implications like rumours, large-scale rioting in the absence of information. There were various stories on the number of terrorists involved. Maharashtra CM in one of his press conferences on thursday said it would be 25 terrorists but when the final tally came out the Government has maintained that it is only 11 terrorists who are involved in this operation. I dont believe this!!
I went to office on Thursday but to be honest nothing happened in the office except for constant checking of internet sites to know the latest developments on the terror attack. My mind was not there at all to do any kind of work. Added to the confusion on that day is the heavy rains and water logging in Chennai which caused wholesome disruption of normal life. You have to run around to find out who is coming to office, where are they and would they make it on time. As I have colleagues in Mumbai I called them up and enquired that everything is fine with them. so The mood all across was very depressive and everybody was unable to accept the fact that how careless and ineffective our surveillance and response. This is in spite of the fact that many hostages were rescued during the night and as well during the day on Thursday but still we cant claim that we have complete control of these buildings.
I started back home earlier than the normal as the water logging situation has worsened during the day due to heavy rains. I went half the way to home and found that my regular route is completely water logged and cant be used. Then I made a detour and took a circuitous route back home. Immediately on reaching home I started following the developments on the TV but the situation is no better than it was in the morning. It is already 24 hours now since the terrorists entered these buildings but our security forces were not able to overpower them and recover the buildings. My wife started asking why to watch these things on TV as they unfold but instead pray for the well being of the hostages. Though I see her point that by just watching the TV I cant change anything, but I was in no mood to pray. She did manage to pray at least couple of times during this episode, but I couldnt. My mind couldnt think of anything else other than the mayhem happening in front of my eyes.
By then the news of how the terrorists entered Mumbai and other background information started coming out. It was freezing to know that they have entered through the sea route and landed right in the heart of the city. Couple of terrorists have also hired a taxi to go to Cafe Leopold and CST where they indulged in indiscriminate firing on unarmed civilians. Every passing moment made me feel impotent and helpless. This is an honest opinion of the state I was in. Your blood starts boiling but accept the fact that you cant do anything beyond watching the action unfold on TV. I watched TV till very late in the night with a hope that these guys would be apprehended or killed anytime. The channels have already started putting out news flash like "Final Assault" and everything but alas the end is no where near. I went to sleep with a very heavy heart and slept off only due to fatigue and tiredness.
Now the question is, just watching this nerve-wrecking episode on the TV itself causes fatigue and tiredness, but I was wondering how the NSG Commandos and Policemen and for that matter terrorists as well were able to continue the fight for more than 24 hours without any rest or food. The news channels were claiming that there were only couple of terrorists in Taj and Oberoi but I cant imagine they fighting nonstop for 60 hours. Later stories have emerged that the terrorists were living on dry fruits and chocolates laced with drugs which helps them to keep themselves awake for long hours and fight continuously. But I cant accept this. Whatever may be the drug, you cant fight non-stop for 60 hours! My guess is it should have been more than 10 terrorists and many more would have been either killed or escaped as part of the hostages when they were released.
Friday began and the water situation worsened in Chennai. I couldnt go to office on that day and luckily electricity was there at home and I continued watching the drama in Mumbai. The "Final Assault" was going on now for 24 hours. NSG was trying its best to rescue the hostages and release the buildings from the clutches of the terrorists. Finally, the Oberoi-Trident hotel was declared as taken over by the security forces around 3.30 PM on Friday afternoon after a good 42 plus hours of fighting 2 terrorists. The operation at Nariman house and Taj continued even further. NSG air-dropped commandos in Nariman house on Friday morning around 7 am and Nariman house was taken over the security forces after a gruelling fight for 48 hours!! Again it is only 2 terrorists who have been killed by the NSG.
TV Channels were claming all through the Friday afternoon and into late night that the security forces are about to end the operation anytime now in Taj but the operation never got over till 10 AM on Saturday morning. The final few minutes were really dramatic as one of the TV channels showed a terrorist being shot and thrown out of one of the windows of Taj hotel. It is a chilling moment as few minutes back that terrorist has peeped through the window on the ground floor and started firing on the people outside.
We Indians have an insatiable desire to be in the thick of action, I guess. As the operation was going on in Nariman house, you saw hundreds of people cramming the street on which Nariman house is located. Literally people were piling on without worrying about the ongoing anti-terror operation few hundred yards away. What should we say about this? Are they showing solidarity with the security forces or they want to be part of the ongoing action. Whatever it may be, our fellow Indians should respect the situation and keep themselves away from the scene of action. Huge mass of people would only put pressure on the security forces.
Of course, once the operation got over at Nariman House, the general public was showing their appreciation for the security forces. That is good in a sense because through this civilians would come to know how difficult their job is. No more questions should be asked on Sixth pay commission recommendations for the Armed Forces!!!!
When the siege ended on Saturday morning at Taj, I got a big sense of relief that the agony is over. There is no point talking about what has happened but we as a country need to figure out how we can avoid these kind of incidents in the future. Already the ball has been set in motion in this regard. The media started taking up this issue by provoking poeple to think about this terror attack, by asking pertinent questions to political leaders and government officials. This is the first time I have seen mainstream television media has gone on the offensive against the political leaders. The questions asked to them were very direct and answers were demanded from them. They also brought to light some sensitive information like the IB warnings to Maharashtra Government about a possible terror attack in Mumbai using the sea route, the letter purportedly written by Maharashtra Fishermen Union about the large scale movement of RDX close to Indian territorial water etc., At times media went overboard while covering the terror attack by asking some personal questions. Today I read a blog post which ridiculed Barkha Dutt of NDTV for asking about some sensitive information with the kin of those hostages and thereby indirectly exposing them to terrorists. Also please dont stop common man asking some sensitive questions during live TV shows or stop the show abruptly. One such instance happened during Barkha Dutt's "We the People" program on NDTV 24X7. You are not the only guardians of Indian democracy but remember every Indian has a right to ask some direct and sensitive questions or make some comments.
There are lot of questions to be answered by the people who are in power why various warnings have been ignored. But as normal human beings our lives have to go on. Let it go on but with replies for this. JAI HIND!!