…we had no idea that in 12 hours, our world would be turned upside down. This time last year, terrorists were getting ready to attack the Taj, the Trident and the CST. What seemed to be a two-hour operation for our elite National Security Guards, turned out to be our worst ever encounter with terror. I can’t get the memory of that day out of my mind. I can’t get those television images of Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar out of my mind. Nor can I forget the young and handsome face of Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who along with dozens of others lost his life to those terrorist bastards. Men, no older than 19 and 20, who decided to right all the perceived wrongs by randomly killing off innocent civilians whose only crime was to have been born in a non-Islamic country.
On second thoughts, did Islam, or any other religion for that matter, even figure in their thoughts? Or was it simply the blind faith that by killing a hundred civilians, they would get their 72 virgins in heaven? Did even their own religion matter when these men, who weren’t even old enough to be called men, killed off those people waiting to catch trains and get back home to their loved ones? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. All I know is that but for those men who laid down their lives trying to save others. If Karkare, Kamte, Salaskar and Sandeep were men in uniform who knew their lives could end this way some time, the staff of the Taj and the Trident took the word customer service to new heights that day. They died trying to protect their customers.
I could go on like this for the next 10 pages, but nothing would diminish the pain we felt on that day. I wouldn’t say that my heart bled for my country that day, one year ago. But, sitting in faraway Chennai, I suddenly felt more insecure than I ever had previously. I suddenly felt terrified for the lives of those I loved and cared for the most. What if my parents, my friends, or even the lady next door were at the Taj that day? What if tomorrow, I were to lose one of these people I cherish and adore? What if one day, I had to sacrifice a son, friend, husband or brother like Sandeep? It is too terrifying to contemplate.
Having said all this, we still keep the men who perpetrated this crime alive. I argued passionately for the right of Kasab for a fair trial. But, I also say that justice delayed is justice denied. How much longer are we going to have to wait for the trial to end? How much longer are we going to allow the media free access to him and listen to that man say he regrets what he did, and hear his laments? I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know why or how he became a terrorist. I am, even a year later, in no position to conduct an academic inquiry into the motives behind a man turning into a terrorist. All I want is justice; justice for the wrongs; justice for the killing of the hundreds of civilians who only wanted a good night’s sleep. Unless we, as a nation act firmly and quickly against the perpetrators of terror, we will remain soft targets. First, it was Delhi, then Jaipur, then Mumbai, more than once. Tomorrow it could be Chennai, or Hyderabad, or Bangalore. Are we going to wait until every one of our cities, major and minor, becomes targets of terror attacks? I certainly hope not.