26/11 is one of the saddest days not only for Mumbai, but the entire country. It was on this day in 2008 that 10 fully armed and militarily trained LET terrorists attacked India’s commercial hub, exposing the country’s vulnerability to the World. Coming through the sea route, these terrorists landed at Fishermen’s colony in Cuffe Parade and started their game of death. It started from Colaba’s popular joint Leopold Cafe and the names of Cama Hospital , Oberoi Hotel, Chabad House, CST and Taj Mahal Palace are permanently etched in the memories of Mumbaikars and Indians. So are the names of the brave officers of Mumbai Police, who took on these professionally trained terrorists, guided by military strategists of ISI, with quaint arms and zero protection. Brave and brilliant officers like Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte, Hemant Karkare, Tukaram Ombale fought bravely but proved to be sitting ducks in front of these mercenaries. The way black cat commandos of Indian Armed forces flushed these terrorists, holed up inside iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, out by neutralising all of them except one, Kasab, who was caught alive on Marine Drive and executed subsequently after spilling all the beans on the conspiracy, is the stuff folklores are made of. Sandeep Unnikrishnan, a young Army officer, laid down his life, but his brave father refused to grieve on the martyrdom of his son.
What’s the learning from this all out attack on Mumbai? Is Mumbai of today safer than Mumbai of 2008? Are it’s roads, public transport, schools, public places safer than they were when attacked? I don’t think so. I read that metal detectors, installed at suburban railway stations post train blasts do not work. Passengers are busy fighting for place to sit or stand rather than watching the racks or underneath seats for suspicious bags or packets. Road Nakabandis appear most lackadaisical and their effectiveness is highly suspect. We seem busy on Mandir, Rafale, Mallya, elections issues rather than worrying about the safety of our city and country. On the eve of the anniversary of this darkest, blackest day in the history of our city and country, let’s not waste the sacrifice and martyrdom of the country’s brave sons by allowing such dastardly acts to be repeated. Let’s plug our vulnerabilities by being united and adopting systems such as group, community or neighbourhood watching for the safety and well being of all of us and our beloved country and Mumbai.