Today is 26th November and like each year we count, now it’s 13 years have been passed that reminds the dark fearful night that stretched over three long days in the city of Mumbai is still vivid in our collective memory.
Yes, terrorist from neighbor country came here through sea route and stroked on Mumbai. The date was November 26, 2008.
Terrorists played out as slow-motion mayhem, targeting important landmarks including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Hotel, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital and the Nariman Light House.
We had been watching the terrible spectacle, live and uninterrupted, on TV.
There was a choreographed sequence of strikes, using hand-held weapons, by 10 terrorists who had come in by the sea. It was horror act made for the age of the instantaneous spectacle.
One of the targeted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station, from where, over the years, hundreds and thousands of Indians, men and women, is being poured into Mumbai, as if they are pulling by a magnet and carrying with them a hope and a dream.
Because Mumbai is called as ‘City of Dreams’ not just for the people of India, but for many well beyond the billion strong country’s borders.
Terrorism is nothing but the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a mass population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. Terrorism has been practiced by political organizations with both rightist and leftist objectives, by nationalistic and religious groups, by revolutionaries, and even by state institutions such as armies, intelligence services, and police.
During that operation, nine terrorists were later killed by the security forces, including the NSG, the country’s elite commando force. .
One Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist who was captured alive. He was hanged four years later on November 21, 2012.
But that terrorist attack, we had lost the life of the then Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, Army Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Mumbai’s Additional Police Commissioner Ashok Kamte, Senior Police Inspector Vijay Salaskar and Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Tukaram Omble .
On this occasion we must promise ourselves about Freedom of fear. On this occasion Mr. Amitabh Bachchan has said .. Freedom from fear means that we are more at ease with our neighbor, and also with ourselves. It means that we acknowledge that the terrorist tried to produce spectacle and stoke passions and make the currency of terror pervasive in our politics, but we deny him that power over us.
Because at the bottom of our hearts, we are all Mumbaikars, whether or not we choose to live in Mumbai. No matter how cramped the place we stand on, we look up at the stars and skyscrapers and seek out the broader horizons that meet the sea.
We believe that better things are possible, and that we can make them happen to us. We lose ourselves in the dark of the cinema hall and then walk out into the light to make a new beginning. For us, the Mumbaikars, the dark is not something to be afraid of, it is where magic resides and the imagination runs free.
No terrorist must be allowed to change the way we are in the dark, or with our neighbor, or ourselves. No single act of terror must be given the power to destroy the interconnectedness of our stories, our plural solidarities.
Thirteen years later, this 26/11, as we begin to see the first glimmer after the devastating pandemic, in which we lost many of our loved ones, that is the promise we need to solemnly renew to ourselves.
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BE HAPPY….BE ACTIVE….BE FOCUSED….BE ALIVE…
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