With everyone having condemned the terrorist attack in Mumbai and a whole nation united in grief there is nothing much I can add. The days when we did not have TV was perhaps better. Riots in 1979 brought life in our Steel city to a stand still. There were reports of a bus load of Muslim women being burnt alive and we did feel helpless. There were rumors of the minority community retaliating. But the visual media had not made its way into our drawing rooms and the papparazi style hounding for by news channels following the Mumbai blasts was thankfully missing. Reading newspaper reports or listening to news on radio is certainly not the same as watching it over and over again in every news channel.
I agree that sensible reporting helps us get news updates. But I am not sure if this is done anymore. I recount a conversation we had in college-
A: ‘The muslim community has refused to let the dead terrorists be interred in India. They will have nothing to do with them. Islam does not endorse bloodshed.’
B: ‘Do you believe them? I don’t.’
C: ‘Why not? Everyone from a particular community cannot be labeled a terrorist. It was a muslim tea supplier who led the NSG commandos to the different areas of Nariman House.’
B: ‘Whatever you say. My mind refuses to trust them.’
A: ‘What about the Hindu fanatics who burnt an evangelist and his two sons in Orissa? Would you want to trust them?
C: ‘Fanatics and fundamentalists have perverted minds and belong to a class of their own irrespective of their religious affiliation. Their acts can never be justified.’
I was glad that very few supported B. But then it is a handful of fanatics and fundamentalists that take on the world threatening to destroy it.
I have given an account of what a frenzied mob can do to an innocent boy in an earlier post. I was witness to the incident and I still feel guilty for not being able to do anything to help.
Are we being fair? Is the over enthusiastic news reporting doing more harm than good?
Again consider the question of Pakistan’s involvement in training terrorists. It is evident that the government there is not able to handle the issue with an iron hand. But could an attack of this level be planned and executed without help from our own people? Traitors from our own country who can do anything for money? Should not our own government have a system in place to identify and punish them? For all we know a good number of them may be holding key posts in government offices or may be spoilt brats of the rich and mighty. Why do we blame the executors of terrorist acts? The masterminds direct them from the safety of their offices thousands of miles away. Why don’t they send their own children as suicide bombers for a change? And would these politicians who claim that such incidents keep happening all the time in big cities or that they were ‘mantris’ not ‘santris’ (sentries) say the same thing if their kith and kin were victims? Who doesn’t remember the Khandhar incident when a dreaded terrorist was released in exchange for a minister’s daughter?
My mind is confused. I try to think of solutions. None come to my mind. No one is born a terrorist. What makes him one? How far is religious fanaticism responsible for the situation? Would it help if Imams, Shankaracharyas and other religious leaders come forward with messages of religious tolerance and universal brotherhood? We cannot let this continue. Let us all ponder over all possible solutions to save the world and ourselves.