No Platitudes Please

Rupa Gulab
After 26/11 there should not have been another successful terrorist attack in Mumbai. Or anywhere in India, for that matter. Our jittery politicians were more shocked by our outrage than the attacks itself — we were threatening to throw every single pair of shoes we owned at them, including brand new, exorbitantly priced and highly prized Jimmy Choos. Alarmed, they promised us the moon as far as security was concerned and, as usual, they were too lazy to put their ideas into action. 
 
Frankly, it doesn’t matter which coalition government is in power. None deliver. Every political party in India places a higher value on party loyalty than competence, as a result of which, not very bright people (to put it politely) get powerful ministries. What makes me angrier is, they are perfectly competent when it comes to providing security for themselves. 
 
Why was RR Patil made home minister of Maharashtra yet again when it’s patently clear that he believes bar girls are a bigger threat than terrorists? Why? 
 
I’m writing this less than a week after the attacks and we still don’t know which sadistic group was behind it. The awful truth is, we don’t just have the usual list of perpetrators to choose from — we have what I call ‘perpetrators’ as well: foreign Islamic terrorists backed by Pakistan’s ISI, home-grown Indian terrorists backed by Pakistan’s ISI, Indian underworld criminals backed by Pakistan’s ISI, lunatic asylum escapees backed by Pakistan’s ISI, Hindu terrorists, hell, even the Maoists. All these groups have ably demonstrated that they can teach Hollywood’s Martin Scorsese a thing or two about exceptionally gut-wrenching scenes of blood and gore. 
 
I’m now persuaded beyond doubt that ideology (any ideology) stinks worse than unwashed gym socks. Oh, and that religion should be banned — as soon as possible! 
 
The influence of God makes people crazier than the influence of alcohol. 
 
Meanwhile, the citizens of Gotham city (also known as Mumbai) are limping back to normalcy — well, we’re as normal as we can be with fresh images of dazed, charred, bloodied and mangled victims playing in our minds on a loop. The media outdid itself with its playful competitive game of my-photographs-are-more gruesome-than-yours-nyaah-nyaah-nyaah. We’re so sunk in gloom that the concern voiced by people around the country and the globe has barely failed to register, but thank you very much anyway. There are, though, two voices that did register clearly — two voices that we definitely do not wish to hear the next time we’re attacked by terrorists.
 
The voice of India’s Saffron Brigade: Whenever there’s a terrorist attack in Mumbai, BJP leader LK Advani dashes across and pushes and shoves everyone out of the way to get to the terror sites in his haste to grab media attention (and votes for his communal party, of course). His unwelcome visits inspire some of us to order extra large barf bags from friendly neighbourhood grocery stores. Know this, Mr Advani: some of us will always hold you and your Babri Masjid-destroying brethren guilty for all the terror attacks on Mumbai. And oh yes, also for most of the communal riots in India since December 1992. 
 
The voice of America: When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton solemnly condemned the attacks, I had to reach for a handkerchief to mop up my tears of rage. Excuse me, the US government generously helps fund attacks on India. They know perfectly well what Pakistan really does with all that money. Sorry Hillary, our political leaders may have thanked you warmly for your platitudes, but I cannot and will not. I do not personally dislike you, but I still blame you and every other Democrat and Republican who enthusiastically sanctioned I-heart-Pakistan cheques. 
 
The only thing that’s cheering some of us up a wee bit is the last Harry Potter film which is currently running in the city. It feels oh so good to witness good triumph over evil. All you international publishers out there, if you want another hugely successful good-versus-evil book and film series, commission an author to write a story with any of Pakistan’s ISI chiefs as the villain — they all make Voldemort look like an angel.  

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: AUGUST 2011