ಔಟ್ ಲುಕ್ ಸಂಪಾದಕ ವಿನೋದ್ ಮೆಹ್ತಾ ಮುಂಬೈ ದಾಳಿ ಹಿನ್ನೆಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಂಬೈ, ಲೆಪೋಲ್ಡ್ ಕೆಫೆ ಹಾಗೂ ಮುಂಬೈಕರ್ ಗಳನ್ನು ನೆನಪಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಬರೆದ ಪುಟ್ಟ ಬರಹವಿದು. ಸುದ್ದಿಮಾತು ಓದುಗರಿಗೆ...
Falling to the mother of all security lapses
Could this be happening to the "city of dreams"? Our very own Mumbai? The city is no stranger to terror attacks, but the scale, audacity, flamboyance and planning of this assault takes one’s breath away. As the faces of anonymous, but not hooded, assassins flashed on TV screens, one thing became quickly clear. These gentlemen were looking for maximum exposure in maximum city. And what a spectacular success, from their perspective, the operation has been. Will Mumbai ever be the same again?
As an ex-Mumbaikar, I was reared, physically and intellectually, at one of the terrorist’s first targets: Leopold Cafe. In my time, it was a slightly shady, downmarket eatery patronised by hippies and harlots. My interest lay mainly in the mutton dhansak and dodging the gaze of the Parsi owner whose temper was legendary. He preferred his customers to eat and scoot. And my preference was long lunches and chatting up the better-washed female hippies. The Oberoi and the Taj were second homes. It was at the latter that my first publication, Debonair, was launched. Remembering the generous spirit and cosmopolitan character of Mumbai and its magnificent landmarks in the past tense may be a trifle unfair to a city which has suffered horrendously through terror assaults, but always displayed a remarkable capacity for fast recovery.
Although I have been living in Delhi since the early ’90s, I left my heart in Leopold Cafe. All of which shows that my heart, if nothing else, is in the right place. While our politicos indulge in shouting matches on Islamic terrorism or Hindu terrorism, India bleeds with terrifying regularity. How could close to 20 (if not more) terrorists, armed to the teeth with Kalashnikovs and hand grenades, casually enter a metropolis heavily guarded and heavily warned? How could they get into world-famous hotels, which allegedly are on high alert currently, and leisurely prepare and execute their diabolical deeds? This is the mother of all security lapses.
Our intelligence-gathering network is in a shambles. The tragedy is that everyone, even Ramu the cook, knows how rundown IB and RAW are. Why didn’t these assassins, the harbingers of global terror to India, strike at London, Paris, New York, Sydney? Why did they specifically choose Mumbai? No prizes for coming up with the correct answer.
All of us ex-Mumbaikars can only shed tears for our beloved town. Coming home late on Wednesday night, my wife whispered: "They’ll hit Delhi tomorrow." Or Bangalore or Chennai. Though it didn’t materialise, the original decision of the Prime Minister and L.K. Advani to go together to Mumbai was a good beginning. But I fear the unity won’t last long. Soon we’ll be back to the nasty Afzal Guru-Sadhvi slanging. I hope I am wrong.