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, itâ€™s safe to say residents of the city arenâ€™t looking for closure as much as looking for assurances that something like this wouldnâ€™t happen again.
Does the hanging of one of the perpetrators of that violence guarantee it? Kasabâ€™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 governmentâ€™s inability to react instantly to an attack of such enormity. There have been debates over how the cityâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 wonâ€™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.