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Let us fight terrorism, not let it divide us

By Aslam Hunani
July 17, 2006 16:03 IST
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Panic, horror and grief gripped Mumbai last Tuesday as news of the terrorist attacks flooded our senses and the television sets beamed images of death and destruction.

Even as we were trying to comprehend the carnage, even as frantic phone calls were blocked by cellular networks, even as everyone wondered just how many blasts had occurred and how many people had lost their lives, my mind went hurtling back in time.

To the 1992-1993 riots and the March 12, 1993 serial blasts in India's financial capital, the city that I call home.

Now what? Where do we go from here? What if terrorists achieve what they want to with the blasts? What if riots break out again? What if even more innocent people are killed?

My mind was filled with questions. And fear. Fear so real you can feel it in your bones. Fear that puts your heart on overdrive. Fear you can almost smell, touch, see.

The scars took a long, long time to heal. The nightmare lasted many years. The fire singed a lot of lives, destroyed a lot of dreams. It had taken a lot of willpower to restart the cycle of survival.

On some dark nights, those memories still wake me -- and, I am sure, many people like me who have witnessed the horror -- up, sweat pouring, the rush of blood sounding like water roaring through a broken levee.

Why do we always have to suffer for someone else's actions? Why do the vast majority always have to bear the consequences of the actions of a minuscule few?

I was scared to even think of the questions I knew were banging on the insides of my mind: Will the blasts deepen the communal divide? Will my city be engulfed by the flames of hatred again? Will riots break out again?

The dastardly act of terrorism has aggrieved each and every Mumbaikar, each and every Indian, and indeed each and every human being. From the common man to the prime minister, no one is mincing words in condemning the blasts.

There is only one word reverberating through the consciousness of every Indian: revenge.

This is the time to show the perpetrators of terrorism that just as we can be the best of friends to our friends, we can be death to our foes.

Mumbai citizens were already tottering before the blasts -- first, when five days of rain washed away the government's claims of monsoon-readiness, and then from the unofficial bandh in the wake of the desecration of the late Meenatai Thackeray's statue by miscreants on July 9 morning.

And then came the attack on the lifeline of Mumbai -- its local trains, and its hardworking common people.

But Mumbai did not fall.

We have defeated the terrorists, because the same citizens who fought each other during the riots of 1992-1993 were out on the streets, united against the barbaric, senseless, godless act.

Now it is up to the police and the intelligence agencies to find the terrorists and their supporters, wherever they are. And to give them such exemplary punishment that a clear message is sent across to the world: You mess with us, we annihilate you.

The way forward is to fight the monster of terrorism together, not let it divide us and rule over us.

There is a dire need to strengthen our intelligence gathering networks, to see that not one more innocent life is lost; not indulge in a witch-hunt.

The need of the hour is to be vigilant, not vigilante.

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Aslam Hunani