Stop, Think, Cry, Love: A young girl’s thoughts on the Madness in Mumbai

This article was written by a 14 year old girl who discusses the Mumbai incident, worth a read

Written by
Payoshi Roy (Class XI)
Bishop Cottons Girls School (Bangalore)

The siege on Mumbai left the most experienced of us stunned. Even those who have become immune to grief and tragedy stopped for a second. The 48-hour encounter with these extremely sophisticated and trained terrorists of Pakistani origin left India burning in every sense of the word. The versions and accounts are endless. Trying to quantify people’s grief would not only be futile but indeed low down. People who went for their daily evening session of beer and gossip at the Leopold café, that special once a month dinner at the Taj or for the bitter sweet occasion of farewell at CST Station never returned. This isn’t the first time we’re hearing about something like this. These stories have been talked about through out this year and to be honest through out our lives. We have experienced five separate series of bomb blasts across the country in this year alone. The dreadful cries of the Gujarat riots are yet to recede from recent memories. The 2006 and 1993 Bombay blasts and riots haunt their victims even now.

However, we are not here to talk about the grief that these victims suffer. Nor do I wish to discuss the various and repeated intelligence failures and lackadaisical attempts of the government and its security agencies. We are here to figure out what exactly is wrong with us, because it is evident that there is something horribly amiss in this country and its people.

People are not born terrorists. Teenagers do not get up one fine day with the conviction that violence is the path of their lives. The terrorist that battled with NSG in the Taj hotel for over 24 hours was not more that 25 years old. Can any of you imagine the kind of courage and determination that this young boy exemplified in accomplishing such a feat? He is a terrorist, a terrorist who is responsible for the death of over 150 people. He is also a mere boy. A boy whom we have forced into becoming the man he died as. The Indian mujahidin consists of young boys from the JMI College in Delhi. Sadhvi Pragya is in her early twenties. These people are our age. They are people who we see in movie halls and at street corners. They are not aliens of another race. Terrorism was not brought in from Mars. It breeds within us. The worst part is that we created it.

Every kind of terrorism stems from extremism; and extremism is the most obvious ramification of discrimination. Discrimination is sadly practiced in every nook and corner of our country. We think it’s insignificant, we think that it’s just the way people are. But it is discrimination and if only we were braves enough to face it.

It is discrimination when the age-old story of Hindu parents refusing to marry their daughter into a Muslim family repeats itself. It is discrimination when parents of Muslim children refuse to sing Hindu bhajans. It is discrimination when Christians refuse to participate in Hindu and Muslim festivals. All of this is discrimination. And every form of terrorism and extremism finds its roots in this kind of discrimination, which is practiced in each and every one of our homes. That is why we need to look at our homes and our thinking before we cry out in rage and protest against the government and security forces.

Last night you had emotional and angry Mumbai mobs screaming out anti Pakistani slogans. That is the beginning of terrorism. Have we all gone mad? What does the normal Pakistani family who is probably in their own way praying for the Mumbai victims have anything to do with this? This is the quintessential problem that we are facing. When will we realize that by blaming each other the problem will only intensify?

The Hindus destroyed the Babri masjid. The Muslims blew up a Hindu coach. The Hindus killed a city full of Muslims. Wave after wave of madness. Stop! How long can we go on like this? An eye for an eye has never been the answer and it should not take us a thousand years to accept the truth of this statement.

You had Raj Thakare chasing out the north Indians and Biharis from Maharashtra. Over three hundred North Indians of the NSG saved his beloved Marathi manoos. Where was Bal Thakare then? Forget about this one man, where were the rest of our cosmopolitan Mumbaikers who let this man getting away with what he did… Where were the progressive and peaceful Hindu leaders when churches burnt in Orissa and Karnataka? We should all hang our heads in shame.

In another 60 years we’ll have Bihari terrorists attacking Maharashtra and Maharashtrian terrorist retaliating. Next we’ll have border security squadrons for our state borders. Don’t smile skeptically. The India-Pakistan feud had also started off in 1947 with Muslims being chased out of Delhi and Hindus being chased out of Lahore. Look where it stands now.

Today you have every news channel proudly acclaiming the army, NSG and Marine commandos as heroes. People in Mumbai are running out on the streets to congratulate them. These heroes weren’t born today. They have been here all this while. Where were these people of India, the Media, when the IAS used their Machiavellian minds to reduce the salaries of all the Defense Forces? Where were these people when the corporate world squabbled over a few hundred rupees rise in the salaries of these men who always risk their lives to keep us safe? I could not see the bureaucracy putting their life on the line to save hostages in the Trident. I did not see the corporate world dying at the border during the Kargil war. And I did not see Indian citizens who today call these soldiers heroes defending them when they needed us the most.

You want to know what the problem with India is? We’re cowards. We don’t think as a single nation and we can’t stand up for what’s right.

I’ll give you a small and perfect example of what is wrong with us. We all complain about this country’s dirty roads. We love holidaying in London’s spick and span streets. The most educated of us are yet to hesitate while throwing a sweet wrapper or lays packet on the street. Or we’ll throw it in an already existing dump on the street. We can’t even wait till we come across a dustbin. This is what is wrong with us.

We have enough and more to say about Manmohan Singh and Advani and every other useless politician and rightly so. But the fact is that in all honesty we couldn’t care less. The best of us don’t vote, don’t contest in elections and don’t even help out N.G.O.s when we can’t do anything for our country how dare we, I repeat, how dare we expect anyone else to do anything.

We can go on talking about stepping up security, straightening out our coast guards and eradicating terrorism. But the problem lies not in our security system but in us. It lies in our madrassas, in our temples, in our schools in our homes and in our minds. And until we realize our role, until we open our eyes to this truth, not a thing will change.

Everyone talks about this new India, a shining progressive and young India. Well it’s time for Young, New and Shining India to prove herself. Stand up and prove your worth. This so- called liberal and progressive thinking generation needs to root out those weeds that grow in the oldest corners our gardens. We need to start thinking and start talking. Talking to ourselves and to others. We need to start doing. This has to be a national youth movement. We have to make it the beginning of a revolution. Every historic movement starts like this. Vague, uncertain and hesitant but moving towards a common calling motivated by the same inspiration and dream. This is our chance.

Don’t tell me that we won’t be able to reach out to the people who need to hear what we have to say. These people live among us. There is no limit to what people can achieve when they set out to do something. You are talking about a country whose founding father won a war without raising a weapon. Who have lived on stories of Subhash Chandra Bose calling out for blood and promising freedom? Well we’ve bled. Now it’s time to get our freedom. Freedom from our own mindsets. Freedom from shackles we’ve placed on ourselves.

These last two days have been the worst attack that India has ever dealt with. If this alarm wasn’t loud enough, no alarm will ever wake us up.

How many more people have to die before we respond to India’s desperate plea for help?

Payoshi Roy

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