Is Kasab’s death enough closure in the Mumbai attacks?
“If you hear the sound of a bullet, kneel, and if you have to move, then crawl, don’t run.”
Those are not the first words you want to hear when you arrive to cover an assignment — but then this wasn’t just any assignment. I was at Nariman House in Colaba to cover the attack that came to be known as 26/11.
On Wednesday, four years later, that story finally got some sort of closure, after the lone gunman captured during the Mumbai attacks was hanged. But for those who were a part of those dark days of 2008, whether real closure will come because of this one act of justice is a tough question to answer.
India is no stranger to militant attacks and Mumbai has seen many incidents targeting several of its icons — the stock market, the local train system and the Taj Mahal hotel. Every attack brings a new set of questions and very few answers.
Having covered the train blasts and the 26/11 blasts in Mumbai, it’s safe to say residents of the city aren’t looking for closure as much as looking for assurances that something like this wouldn’t happen again.
Does the hanging of one of the perpetrators of that violence guarantee it? Kasab’s death does signal a victory for the Indian justice system which went by the book even when it was the most daring attack on India in recent times.
But for a city that is struggling every day — whether with the huge load on its infrastructure, rising living costs, pollution, a shutdown caused by the death of an ageing leader and so much more, another attack of that kind would be too much to handle.
What 26/11 brought to light was the government’s inability to react instantly to an attack of such enormity. There have been debates over how the city’s anti-terrorism chief used a faulty bulletproof jacket, over the late arrival of National Security Guard commandos and the inept handling of the situation by the state government.
That delay doesn’t necessarily make up for the execution of Ajmal Kasab. What it does do is allow the city to undergo a kind of catharsis.
There are of course no guarantees in this world and no government can assure us that an attack like this won’t take happen, but if people can be assured the reaction to a possible attack would be quicker and faster, that should be enough closure for now.