“Terror has struck Mumbai again“. Every time there is a terrorist attack in the financial capital of India, most of the news stories on news papers and TV channels start with this headline. I wonder how many more times the same headline has to be repeated in the future. Mumbai and its people are the favorite target of the terror mongers. In last 20 years, more than 2500 innocent people have lost their lives in 92 blasts in Mumbai. Considering such bloody history, one would expect gradual improvements in the counter-terrorism strategies of the state. But the in reality nothing much has changed. Admittedly, some progress has been made in the post-attack response system after the 26/11 but the pre-attack system still lacks the teeth. The blast of 13th July, 2011 exposed India’s counter-terror efforts. The Home Minister of India admitted today that there was no intelligence input with the state agencies about the recent bomb blasts though he didn’t see this as an intelligence failure. Someone should have asked him how “no intelligence is not intelligence failure?”. Why is Mumbai a soft target for the terrorists? Why are our agencies still incompetent when it comes to fighting terrorism? Does Mumbai deserved to be bombed now and then? To be honest there is no definite answers to these questions.
Like the headlines after terrorist attacks on Mumbai, another kind of story that often clog the news space is that of the “indomitable and resolute” spirit of Mumbai. After each bomb blast case, we hear that the average Mumbaikar gets back to his normal life soon as if nothing has happened. Mumbai is often described as the example of resilience. Such sugar-coated words are used to convey the message that the Mumbaikar isn’t scared of any bomb blast or any terrorist. Candlelight vigils and human chains are organised to convey the message that public of Mumbai is united and terror acts can’t deter them. I don’t know whether the terrorists watch these acts and get any message, but these events give a false sense of pride and power to our people. People joining these events feel themselves to be Clark Kents who can turn into Supermen if terrorists dare to attack them at that moment. It is their good luck that terrorists have never attacked such events. One wonders why no other cities have such spirit that Mumbai possesses. Or may be no one talks about the resolute spirit of a Delhite or an Ahmedabadi. Do they talk about the strong Mumbaikars because Mumbai is a preferred target for frequent attacks? The spirit and all similar stuffs are nothing but myths. One who loses his friends or relatives in the attacks would never be able part of this spirit. And the unaffected ones have to get back to their real life as soon as possible to earn his daily living. It’s true for every city and not just for Mumbai. Just because Mumbai faces hardships more often, media and civil society propagates the myth that Mumbai is strong and ready to face such attacks again and again. Perhaps that’s why the city has to meet the onslaughts so often. The needless glorification of the myth that public of Mumbai is better than the public of any other city in getting back to natural course of life soon after damaging terror activities has made the people believe that they needn’t do anything more to avoid such attacks in the future.
But what can an average Mumbaikar do? Can he make and pass anti-terrorism bills? Can he fast track terror cases? Can he hang Afzal Guru or Kasab? Can he fill up all the vacancies in the Mumbai Police to improve the basic policing? No, he can’t because these are something the govt. is supposed to do. The govt. of Maharshtra. The govt. of Mumbai. What can the common public do if their govt doesn’t do these things? If their govt. doesn’t perform its duties, they can only light candles after returning from their offices and sleep at home with false satisfaction that they have done their part to fight terror. The fake Clark Kent inside themselves keeps them going till the next blast. What else they can do?
The only thing they can do is to make their government their government. Can the public of Maharashtra or Mumbai say that the govt. ruling the state is their govt. when only 40-50% of the legitimate voters vote in elections? Though every attack leads the youth of the city to express their anger towards the apathy of the govt. on the social media, friend circles or chai addas, it doesn’t lead them to the poll booths where they can express their anger in an effective way. The ‘resilient’ Mumbaikar needs to learn from the farmers of West Bengal who flocked the poll booths during elections to chose a better alternative. The public of Tamil Nadu expressed their anger against the corrupt ruling class in the state not by lighting candles but by giving their precious vote to someone who seemed better to them. If a corrupt Lalu Yadav empowered thanks to caste equations was shown the door, it was because the people of Bihar chose to get up and walk to the nearest polling station to express their anger. When the voters become proactive in a democracy, only then the political class gets serious about their jobs. When the politicians realise that their jobs are not secure as unsatisfied public can exercise its power, they will get back to their original job that is ‘to serve the people’. Till the moment people haven’t learned to seek accountability from their govt. during the elections, there is no point in creating outrage on different media. If the Mumbaikar is really strong and resilient, he can prove it not by lighting candles or ranting on twitter but by voting in the next election. Otherwise the same headlines will be repeated again and again and again.