21-Jul-2011

The culture of fear



When the first news of the bomb blasts at Opera House, Dadar and Zaveri Bazaar hit, I faintly remember having a feeling of déjà vu. I had already gone through the motions before – of staying at home, checking where immediate family was and asking them to come home, of answering SMSes and calls from family and friends checking to see if we were OK.

It is now, much later that the impact of the blast is slowly beginning to sink in. I went to a mall to catch a movie on Saturday and took a long time to enter parking. As I was waiting for my turn at the vehicle security check, I noticed that the boot of the slightly dilapidated looking vehicle in front of me was wedged tight and the security guy was struggling to open it. For a second, I visualized the boot blowing up and releasing flames filmi-style. Of course, life continued in its ordinary course.

Or maybe I should not say ‘of course’. I should say ‘luckily’

And I absolutely hate to think that I have to say ‘luckily’.

We live in peaceful times. In a country that has no civil war going on. And which has its border fights, but nothing that threatens to turn into WWIII or even a regional war.

Yet, why do we have to live in such fear?

It seems very normal now for malls to be frisking each person and checking each bag. It seems common to walk past detectors all the time. What was confined to airports once upon a time, is now a part of daily life. It is accepted that we will go through elaborate motions of security.

For what?

The blasts have laid open the fact it is not these motions that we go through that protects its citizens. It is a whole lot more. From the press that has been going on, it is clear that the elaborate infrastructure arrangements which were promised to Mumbai in the aftermath of 26/11 never came to pass. The elite force that was created for the city’s protection, cannot be called elite given the treatment they have been given. And finally, the whole intelligence set-up apparently still cannot catch possible security targets.

Yet, we have the powers-that-be rushing to the scene (buffeted on both sides by plenty of security cars) and looking properly grim and giving the same assurances. Do they even mean what they say? Do they even care that the ordinary Mumbai citizen now walks around with fear clutching his heart?

It is a really sad state of affairs.

And I, Mumbai citizen, am very very angry.

2 comments:

hAAthi said...

You've taken the words out of my mouth. We live in fear, but a lot of this has become a part of the way we are, and our everyday lives. We're in fear, but somewhere I think we're numb. Almost used to it now.
What I watch on the news angers me even more. Because its a farce to keep hearing people make promises, and claims that never come to show..

Sonal said...

it's so common these days to watch news reports on tv on bomb blasts...and its at everyday places -trains, planes, hotels, places of entertainement, busy streets. places where any of us could be. knowing that it could just have been me or someone i know causes momentary fear but mostly anger because i cannot feel safe even doing the most ordinary things.