I remember how it was in the March of 1993 when the serial blasts of Mumbai took place. India had not seen anything of that nature. Shocked, stunned and bloodied, India woke up to the new reality of serial blasts and unseen face of terror.
Little did we suspect what would be in store in days, months and years ahead. Mumbai has been brutalised several times. Whether it was the train bombings of July 11, 2006 or the July 13 blasts of 2011, the commercial city has come under attack repetitively.
And then there have been numerous other equally deplorable incidents. Delhi has witnessed explosions once too often and so has Hyderabad. There have been detonations in Bangalore, Jaipur and Ahmedabad and even smaller towns like Varanasi and Jammu.
The idea each time has been to damage the symbols of the country, like when India’s Parliament was targeted.
But nobody was prepared for what happened on the 26th of November, 2008. The infamous episode has come to be known as 26/11 and is etched deep in our psyche.
Everyone had proclaimed that it cannot get worse and that nothing would surprise anymore.
And yet we have been startled again. The Mahabodhi complex at Gaya – an icon of Buddha’s enlightenment and a revered shrine of peace - faced a senseless bout of violence.
However brutalising the past two decades have been when seen through the prism of repeated terror assaults, no one quite imagined that Buddhist monasteries would ever be targeted.
This is exactly what terror intends to do. Instil fear and alarm, when citizens of the country feel secure nowhere. When we gasp again and again with disbelief about what we have to endure and suffer because of those whose twisted mentalities revel in plotting destruction.
Given that we are having to face these unknown and several known enemies within and outside, can we really twiddle our thumbs, wait for the next strike and then count the bodies.
Not to forget, pay paltry compensation to the injured and some more tokenism for the kin of the deceased.
Few coins of silver cannot quell the lamentation of those whose ache will last a lifetime. They are those whose families are splintered by the shrapnel of these odious creatures, whose breadwinners no longer can fend due to maimed limbs and the parents of little children who have had untimely trysts with crematoriums.
Our shoddy and much less than earnest attempts to take on the devil have borne no fruit.
Yes, there are a few more NSG commando units; and yes, CCTVs have been clamped in every nook and corner. But we also know our state intelligence units, CBIs and IBs of the country are still not in sync. In case you have any doubts, pick up the Ishrat Jahan episode and you’ll know.
Not all CCTV units work, as was evident in Hyderabad and security checks at airport, train stations and pilgrimages are worse than tardy. We all have witnessed the lackadaisical attitude of our security personnel somewhere, sometime.
Our cops are unhealthy, can even barely run and still use wooden batons. Not just that, there are far too few a policemen per thousand compared to the number needed to maintain respectable security standards.
Last but not the least, we have done little to win over and nurture those who are at the risk of being alienated and snatched from the fringes to be enrolled into terror squads. The sops that we dole out in the name of Affirmative action are not meant to improve the lives of those relegated to the shadows of society. Our actions are not meant to help inclusion, but rather designed to elongate the exclusion, so that the sidelined continue to serve as vote banks, notwithstanding that they will become easy fodder for radicalization.
What else would one make of a political party appealing for the release of a convicted terrorist!
And that too in an age when terrorism is becoming more sophisticated and has newer forms of communication. A tweet from what has been claimed to be the Twitter handle of Indian Mujahideen has warned terror will visit Mumbai again.
India has traced the message to Pakistan, but are we ready in case the ominous message turns out to be true?
On the anniversary of July 11 and July 13 blasts, Mumbaikars should answer that question.