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26/11 : Tragedies Then & Tragedies Now

By Sahil Mehta

Generally I'm not good at coming up with topics to write on. But every once in a while you come across something that makes you look at life, the world we live in, the society we belong to and take stock of where we stand.

For those of who will be reading this at some later point of time, today is 26 November 2012. The "anniversary" of the gruesome terror attacks in Mumbai.

That fateful night four years ago was one of those nights. You looked at the images of the burning Taj and wondered what if! It was tragic. Innocent people killed of no fault of their own except perhaps to be at wrong place at the wrong time. Families bereaved of their loved ones, with no answers or explanations, why them? A nation shocked at the outrage of the attacks and humiliated by the depth of the strike and yet powerless to respond in a manner befitting their emotions. It was a sad, sad day.

And now we stand here, at this point in time, 5 days after we hanged the perpetrator Ajmal Kasab. Hanged him, right when the masses were losing faith in the governance and judiciary of this country. We hanged the man who attacked our country, we avenged ourselves. And yet there is an element or irony to his death.

I remember the reactions when the news broke. It ranged from a simple "Finally!" to sweets being distributed in the streets. The media had a field day, bringing in hundreds of random people to give their views, their analysis on the whole situation. The news broke in the morning at about 8, and "Breaking News" kept flashing till 12 in the night. I don't really care about the media anymore, they have long lost my respect and indeed their credibility. What I do care, is about the people of this country and how they respond! And as I think about that day, I  grow more and more convinced of how insensitive and vengeful we are becoming as a society. And that is more tragic than the attacks themselves.

Let's get this straight, Ajmal Kasab had to die. He had to be hanged for his evil actions and there are no two ways about that. Indeed, in all fairness he was shown more courtesy than many ordinary citizens in this country. The letter of the law was followed right till the mercy petition. Even with the 4 years it took us, I'm still glad we did it, for it makes us more credible as a nation.

But at the same time I fail to understand the pleasure some people took in his death. What kind of society partakes in communal celebrations and distributes sweets at the death of a man? He did what he did, and we took away his life for it. That's all there is to it. Nobody needs to show sympathy for the man, but to cheer and celebrate his death, is ridiculous.

I also remember reporters saying it is a victory for the people. Wake up guys! We're not a prehistoric, uncivilized tribe any more. Killing people isn't a sign of victory, but of how far we are from reaching our goal as an evolved society.

And let's be naive and say we're sending out a message to terrorists.

I know how hard it is for people to even digest what I'm trying to say. We can't see anything wrong in ourselves when being compared to a Kasab. But that's the whole point, we can't start comparing ourselves to people like Kasab. We have to be better.

The victims of that night deserved justice. Their families deserved justice. A nation deserved justice. We've gotten it. It's time to look at the deeper issues, and introspect.

Terrorism is still, very much so, a serious problem. And killing one man, or even a hundred will not solve the problem. The solution lies in creating a more tolerant, equal world for everyone. Vengeance, sadism are the traits of sociopaths not of intelligent, evolved and empathetic people. And if we can't understand this now, it will be a tragedy told through the ages.


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