November 26, 2008. Armed terrorists held the city hostage, blew up parts of a heritage Mumbai has treasured for many years, and brought the entire city to a standstill for the better part of two days. Well, too much has been said about this already, in blogs, in the news, it's everywhere. Speculation, contemplation, tight security, political statements, we shall leave no stone unturned, who's responsible for all this?....it never ends.
The question that raises eyebrows all around, and the one the answer to which people want to know the most is, WHODUNNIT?
Well, the question's not whodunnit but WHO'S RESPONSIBLE?
In the wake of the blasts arose the voice of lakhs of Mumbaikars demanding answers. Yesterday, December 3, 2008 saw more than a lakh Mumbaikars gather at Gateway of India, near the Taj Hotel in a peace rally, as a sign of solidarity in times of distress, as a sign of support for the innocent who had lost their lives, as a sign of honour to those who willingly gave their today so that we may see a tomorrow, and finally, as a sign of protest against terrorism and corruption. For that is precisely what's responsible for a plight like ours. USA had 9/11, UK had blasts, but since then, they have left no scope for something like this to repeat again. We have had the '93 riots, Mumbai train blasts, now this? How long shall we take a beating lying down, then stand up agian and say we have the "Mumbai Spirit" and we shall always bounce back up? That's all nonsense. Sure, we're a spirited lot, but that doesn't mean you ignore us. Where each VIP and VVIP in Mumbai get a team of armed commandos guarding their front, back and everywhere in between, the brave constables and general police force, who are actually faced with a lot more violence than those guards, are armed with only lathis. It was apalling to read the numbers...two armed gunmen at CST station against close to Two Hundred jawaans of the Mumbai Police force bearing only LATHIS? Frikkin LATHIS?? Just a handful were armed with automatic weapons. No wonder the CST fiasco went on for hours at end whereas with appropriate firepower, they could have been subdued with far less casualties. Again, the bulletproof vests that our task force used is allegedly outdated for at least a couple of years. Why can the government not provide the necessary equipment to the very people who protect it? Who's responsible for this?(I won't say blame because it is easier to pass on the buck but responsibility is something that stays with you) Back to my question, Who's responsible? It's the government. With so much being said and done about raking up defences and utilizing so-and-so amount of GDP for defence research and equipment, where's the result? If the basic police force have lathis, how are we supposed to trust our lives or safekeeping with them, at no fault of theirs? Politics and corruption can never be separated, or so the saying goes.
"Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."
So much money is sanctioned for good causes and development purposes, but a huge chunk of that amount gets lost on the way. How is it that our politicians are able to purchase imported luxury vehicles and own multiple bungalows when the people who are supposed to receive benefits get none?
All these questions and more were posed to the country and to the media at the Gateway Rally. The blasts, it seems, has opened the eyes of most Mumbaikars, and they have come to face the reality of the situation, that if WE, the people do not actively participate in deciding the country's fate, no one can. The rally was a show of protest against the corrupt politicians and terrorists, with people bearing slogans with quotes saying, "Politicians and dogs not allowed in this rally", and "Mumbai has awoken!" My personal favourite being, "Bring back the Bar-girls. Maybe they can 'protect' us!" ^_^
The atmosphere was electric. People were walking slowly from Regal Cinema upto Gateway of India and back again, shouts of slogans like "Jai Hind" and "Bharat Mata Ki Jai!", "Vande Mataram" rang resplendent in the air. Praises to the NSG, Mumbai Police, Indian Army and Indian Navy could be heard loud and clear. Several groups had lit candles in the more spacious of the areas, and prayers were recited for the departed, and the National Anthem could be heard sung everywhere. What struck me as the highlight of the entire rally was that it comprised majorly of students from all over Mumbai. Of course, there were people of all ages, and the show of support was overwhelming, but the energy of the students and the young crowd was what pushed the rally on, and kept the patriotic atmosphere alive. We, of course joined in, hopping onto the dividers and shouting slogans, encouraging the crowd to join us. Every passing police van got a cheer from us and every passing person, a slogan. The sense of being neither a Hindu nor Muslim, but a Mumbaikar and an Indian was overwhelming.
There were so many foreign tourists as well, who had come to extend their support to this rally. Here's what one of them, to whom I spoke, said:
"I have come to this country for it's beauty and it's diversity. It has taken my breath away. The terrorists who have tried to destroy it's beauty should be condemned. I was here during the blasts and shooting. I heard gunfire. I sensed the fear in the people running away from that area. I was scared for my own life. So I thoroughly support what you, all of Mumbai is doing. If the administration's responsible for this, then it is only right to change it. Keep up the good work."
With that she actually joined in with us, shouting "Jai Hind!" and "Bharat Mata Ki Jai!"
Mumbai is really coming alive with this. People know now, that there's such a thing as Section 49-0. Read on:
1969 act section 49-0
Did you know that there is a system in our constitution, as per the
1969 act, in section "49-O" that a person can go to the polling booth,
confirm his identity, get his finger marked and convey the presiding
election officer that he doesn't want to vote anyone!
Yes such a feature is available, but obviously these seemingly
notorious leaders have never disclosed it. This is called "49-O".
Why should you go and say "I VOTE NOBODY"... because, in a ward, if a
candidate wins, say by 123 votes, and that particular ward has
received "49-O" votes more than 123, then that polling will be
cancelled and will have to be re-polled. Not only that, but the
candidature of the contestants will be removed and they cannot contest
the re-polling, since people had already expressed their decision on
them. This would bring fear into parties and hence look for genuine
candidates for their parties for election. This would change the way,
of our whole political system... it is seemingly surprising why the
election commission has not revealed such a feature to the public....
Please spread this news to as many as you know... Seems to be a
wonderful weapon against corrupt parties in India... show your
power,expressing your desire not to vote for anybody, is even more
powerful than voting... so don't miss your chance. So either vote, or
vote not to vote (vote 49-O).
To wrap up this bit, there's a lot of reactive as well as proactive action in the city today. But this may or may not last. For the sake of my...our country, let's hope it does and the movement and the awareness spreads. Today, Mumbai has arisen to fight for it's say in the working of the country; lets hope the rest of the country follows suit.