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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai Under Siege - War Zone and After Effects

I stay very close to all the three places where the terrorists have holed up and are even now engaged in battle with the armed forces, namely the Taj Heritage Hotel near Gateway of India, the Oberoi Hotel in Nariman Point and the Nariman House.

The surprise firing and attacks that started on Wednesday late night around 9.15 PM came as a shock to all of us as we first heard of it on the news channels on TV. This place is hardly 2Km from where we stay, and go often for shopping or watching a movie or eating out. I had been thinking of going out for a movie that evening as my husband had just taken a holiday and my son had just finished with his exams at school, but thankfully, I changed my mind and decided to stay at home instead.

We watched in horror as they showed the carnage and the after effects of the shooting that had happened at the Leopold Cafe, which is quite a popular restaurant in Colaba Causeway specially frequented more by foreigners. This place is also just behind the Taj Hotel and Gateway of India.

At first I thought, like many other people also must have thought, that it was just a silly random shooting by a crazed man or a gang shootout and that as soon as they had their fill, they would go away, but, unfortunately, and to the horror of all the policemen as well, the terrorists were not "running away" but instead very boldly in plain sight of everybody went about their business in a cold blooded manner shooting indiscriminately at the crowd and then went on to their next destination that was CST.

There was a bloody massacre at the CST railway station, which is almost always crowded with people, as the gunmen fired and killed many people before again pushing off on foot to their next place that was the Cama Hospital, where they added to the list of casualties.

The police tried their best to sort out the situation under the circumstances, but as nobody knew what was happening and who or where they were going with this, the police were also left helpless and some of them lost their lives trying to defend themselves and the innocent people.

Anyway, I am sure you have got all the details of what happened from the news channels on TV, so I will not go into those here. What I would like to bring out is that amongst all the chaos that was happening, it was the uniformed personnel at all times who came to the forefront to bear the brunt of the bullets.

The police, the firefighters, the staff and employees of the Taj and the Oberoi Hotel have been very helpful and most professional about their jobs and have taken care of the people who were trapped inside the buildings. I salute these people and the brave who laid their lives for others (and are still in the process of doing so). The army and the navy are doing a commendable job with their planned operations and also in reassuring those who are trapped within that all is under control.

These people are the true heroes of our nation and I hope all the politicians are sitting in front of their television sets and seeing how these brave people are fighting to save "Aamchi Mumbai" (as they keep saying) from these terrorists. So, where are these politicians now? Where is Raj Thackeray? And Where is the Chief Minister, Vilas Rao Deshmukh?

There is a lot of anger and anguish in the hearts of all Mumbaikars, which was evident in the interviews of the celebrities and top industrialists on TV. They had just one thing to say,"Enough is Enough".

This must be the first time that Mumbai looks like a war zone with the army and navy personnel taking complete control of the three buildings that are under siege of the terrorists with a hostage situation. They are all shaken up, as again, this is the first time that it is also the rich people who are being targeted and not only the poor common bystanders as is usually the case in Mumbai.

But like it is so typical with Mumbai, life goes on and people are calm and not in a panic. Everybody was being as helpful as they could and going about their business. But, the only difference is that this time it has gone a bit too far, and I am sure that all the citizens have the same thought in their minds as well. "How much more will we have to suffer"?

So, how much more pain and suffering and blood shed do the politicians want before they start doing something for the larger good of the nation? When will they give up their petty bickering and false assurances to the public and wake up to the realities of life?

I urge all the people to shout out loud, for there is no better time than this, "Enough is Enough".

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