Sunday, November 30, 2008

Do Not Forgive And Never Forget.

The Week That Was.

It is over and we have buried our dead. Last week’s attacks were aimed at Mumbai as the financial hub of India and were meant to deter India from becoming an economic power, or as a destination for foreigners, either for business or pleasure. India has taken up the challenge with teeth bared.

Ratan Tata has sworn to make the Taj better than before. And he will do it. The media and the public are baying for blood. Cabinet reshufflings and stringent intelligence and security measures will soon be in place. There is no doubt that Mumbai will once more be aflutter with pigeons, tourists, and the bustle of business. Every reminder of the week will be wiped clean.

But you and I, as ordinary citizens have also to do our bit. For a start let us take a vow not to forgive and never to forget.

Let us never forget Jordon, Jasmine, and all those nameless young hotel employees who in the face of AK 47s and grenades refused to obey the terrorists’ orders to set fire to their hotel or to show them around, and were shot dead. Let us never forget Kaizad, and other employees like him, who did not flee but true to training, stayed to help hotel guests, even at the cost of their own lives and the lives of their families. No bugles wail or guns salute for these who died, but let us who live, never forget the example they set of putting duty before self.

Let us never forget that no one asked the commandos who flew in to rescue Mumbai, whether they were Maharashtrians or non Maharashtrians, Hindus, Muslims or Christians; Indians or non Indians. Let us swear never to be taken in by any political rhetoric that seeks to divides us into compartments on the basis of region, religion, or nation.

Let us not forget that the seeds of terrorism are planted in madrasas, in gurudwaras, in temples and Sunday schools, where our children are taught the first tenets of their religion. It is here that fundamentalist religious beliefs can be sown in impressionable minds, and unless they are uprooted right there, there will be no stopping terrorism.
Let us swear to teach our children only to love, or at least, to tolerate another’s beliefs, and never ever, to hate any religion.

Indians are known to run towards the site of an accident or a blast, rather than away from it. The Mumbai attacks killed many foreigners and if some of our foreign friends feel unsafe and wish to flee India, we cannot blame them. We have failed to protect those who were here with us as our guests, and no amount of rhetoric will ever express sufficiently our sorrow and regret.

But to those, particularly Paul Easton, who expressed support and a desire to run towards us, my heartfelt thanks. We promise to build a safer India for those of you, who do come back.

With love,

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