They came stealthily, or perhaps they came suddenly, guns firing, weapons, bombs, knives in hand and in reach. Of this we may never be certain; we will be left forever guessing as to what happened before November 26th, 2008. But the aftermath is clear, lucid, and above all, gruesome.
On the twenty-sixth of November, 2008, the city of Bombay was attacked.
They were terrorists, clear in their task, simple in their mission; fire broke out of the Taj Hotel mere minutes after their entry. Hostages were taken, bombs exploded; as of this moment, more than a hundred people are dead, with more than 300 injured, some mortally. In their quest, the terrorits have not only massacred innocent civilians, they have killed innocent, free children. For more than three days, the city of Bombay has been in a state of war, with attack forces and troops eagerly trying to fight back the terrorists, who have taken cover inside three buildings, with more than forty hostages with them. It has been five days since that horrifying moment, but in the minds of many it will be etched forever.
Those of us who have been following the news can draw parallels between this, and another famous terrorist attack scarcely seven years ago. The memory is fresh in our minds; we can still recall the horror and pain mere video and photgraphs could convey, the massive, earth-shattering effect of explosion, smoke, cries of pain and fear . . . and then silence. 9/11 is no more a memory, consigned to the darkest corners of the mind; it is fresh and alive once more, reincarnated in the flame and fury, in the battle of 11/26.
India is not, as popular myth once had it, a spiritually great nation, with saints and ascetics more common than labourers in our land. We are no greater, nor lesser, than the common man; we crave, like all beings, material pleasure. We take pride in work, and scoff at the idea of the mystic saint, who lives so far from home and does no work whatsoever. We are as real as the next man, and like the next man, we too feel the scourge of war, the scars of hate, the ravages of time, and the decay of greatness. Like all nations, terrorism applies to us.
It is sad to say that India, much like Pakistan, is a breeding ground for terror, except we are different; more than different, we are unique. We breed multireligious terror, regional terror; in the greatest of our cities, the Hitler of India, Raj Thackeray, is stirring up chaos. We have more than 200 terror groups spread across the length and breadth of India, each with their own purpose, each with their own, hate-filled, destructive goal. India is not, nor ever was, a peaceful nation; in our 2000-year long history, India has warred and fought and torn itself apart no less than a thousand times. In 1947, India was literally torn into two; the other half became what is today Pakistan. In terrorism's quest for perpetuating hate, it has overridden every facet of Indian society. Terrorism is not an isolated incident; it does not stop once. It is not a tragedy, nor senseless massacre, nor farce of human fate or a monstrous invention of a twisted, fragile mind. Terrorism is nothing more nor less than war: war against peace, war against society itself. India is the only nation to have democratic terrorism: people hate each other equally.
But, here and now, we have reached a point beyond all meaning. In Mumbai lie the bodies of more than a hundred innocent civilians; in Mumbai bleeds the heart of the newly orphaned child. In Mumbai we have seen the twisted nature of those who fight for a twisted cause; we see no self-prophesised freedom fighters, only the faceless masks and garb of the murderers of innocents. Remember this: in Mumbai were the seeds of war planted; a war that goes beyond human concepts of boundary and religion, beyond faith and caste. The war against terrorism goes beyond weapons itself; the war must be fought at the soul.
To defeat terrorism, it is important to remember the weapons and bombs cannot stop terrorists; it will succeed only in inflaming the passions of the people, and make even more terrorists out of the bodies of those who lie dead on the street. To hurt an enemy, strike him not with weapons or guns or bombs or swords. Fight in his mind. In the ideals he so greatly believes in, let him face the glorious uncertainty of doubt. The doubt must cast its shadow on every ideal, every principle he holds dear; it must force him to either struggle to hold or abandon entirely the great truths he believes so rabidly in. Doubt is the great helper of all those who seek success in war; he who uses doubt to his advantage needs neither tactics nor men. Once people doubt, they begin to fear, and with fear on your side, what you fight for will lose.
I am not a believer in the necessity of war; I am a Gandhian, pure and simple. Nonviolence is the key to peace, the only fixed route. That is why terrorism may only be solved by two routes: education and efficiency of governance.
In education lie the hopes and dreams of the next generation. Education can make or break a person; it can snap him into two, or raise him above a pedestal and into the skies themeselves. Education has swords that become part of the mind; in education lies the ability to reason. An educated person can reason terrorism and simplify it to its basic root: murder, genocide and war. And so a war that builds itself by appealing to a tenet of faith or belief will be broken down by the dogs and hounds of persevering reason, that believe in little more than logic; if terrorism fights through the mind, then so may education.
Yet is so happens that mere education is not enough; to truly protect, we must be efficient. Dissatisfaction is like the plague; it spreads no matter how hard you fight it, and will not die until you remove the cause. In dissatisfaction lies desperation for salvation, and only by attacking that dissatisfaction may war of any sort be prevented. We find no objections with efficiency; we desire efficiency in everything we do. Without efficiency, any system will collapse.
In Mumbai, we have seen into the soul of terrorism: a beast that justifies infanticide and murder for an idealised world. It refuses to listen to reason; it is inconsistent, insufficient for any man with reason to follow. 11/26 will become another historic day, in the same league as 9/11. 11/26 was the culmination of an year of terror; from Ahmedabad to Delhi to Assam, India has become a battleground against an enemy that cannot be seen, cannot be detected. In terror lies the hearts of the problems of the world; in 11/26, we have seen it devour a city of innocents. Terrorism is nothing more nor less than the next great war.