Friday, November 28, 2008

REFLECTION: Hurried thoughts on Mumbai ...

Well, it looks like this is going to be an all-nighter. Lots to read and write after having spent virtually the entire day with my eyes glued to the TV screen. My mother has spent a fair bit of time making and taking phone calls and speaking with family friends who have relatives living in Bombay.

We still refer to the place as Bombay. The name “Mumbai” seems like a kind of strange political and cultural correctness, an attempt to impose a provincial dialect on what is essentially a city for people across India. And now across the globe.

It sickens me that the people who could pull off such a coordinated and deadly attacks could dare call themselves “mujahideen”. They may use Iraq and Afghanistan and Kashmir and countless other causes for rhetorical purposes. But what they do bears little relation to jihad and to Islam as most Indians (and broader South Asians) know it.

I saw images on TV and in newspaper reports of people in Bombay hiding behind barricades and walls to avoid shooting. It reminded me of scenes of innocent civilians in Sarajevo having to crouch down behind concrete slabs and makeshift walls and anything else they could find to dodge sniper bullets. The so-called mujahideen are behaving like the goons of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

Mumbai or Bombay, call it what you will, simply doesn’t deserve this. India doesn’t deserve this. Neither does the broader South Asia, Asia and the world. Nor do Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Jews, Catholics, Parsees and the followers of any number of indigenous Indian faiths.

Terrorists regard nothing as sacred. Just a few months back, they attacked a hotel in Islamabad in the heart of Ramadan. Now they have attacked innocent civilians in a crowded Indian city. They even kidnapped an elderly rabbi, a man of God, Clearly these people have no shame.

Soon the Mumbai locals will be burying or cremating their dead. They will pray to God / G-d / Bhagwaan / Allah to have mercy on their deceased relatives. Other people from a host of different countries (including Australia) will be mourning their dead. I urge even hardened atheists to pray with me that God gives them strength.

In the meantime, let’s hope that the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice.

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