Humans became animals on November 26 when a few of them got together to gun down innocent people traveling in shabby trains or dining in upscale restaurants in Mumbai. Supposedly from Pakistan, these murderers sneaked past horribly inept Mumbai port security to launch an audacious attack at the heart of Mumbai’s hospitality, to its elite and upper crust. Mowing down over 170 people in cold blood and then kept the city hostage for over 3 days, while the entire city, country and the world watched in horror and awe as the supposedly elite commandos and pathetically untrained and under armed police battled it out with ten well trained, well armed, unmoved killers bent on a single motive - to slay and destroy any and everything in sight.
I was out of the country but called to calm my eight year old daughter’s fears and insecurities everyday. But how could I explain the seemingly senseless brutality that got captured onto hundreds of cameras and repeatedly beamed to all television clued audiences in the country? What could I say? If it was beyond me, a well rounded and seasoned man of 51, what could I say that would calm or comprehend an eight year old mind? Maaha Zainab had already seen more than her share of human violence and tragedy in our short six months stay in India. The bombings and killings in Gujarat, in Delhi, in Bangalore and other cities between June and October in India shook us all, shook me hard. I began to seriously wonder if our move to India was a wise one.
Reprehensible as this attack on the innocent was, I cannot but know beyond doubt that violence begets violence. It was precisely because this particular attack targeted the rich establishments and its clienteles that it got more than the usual attention of the press and, especially, the top brass. Past atrocities were equally, albeit less passionately, condemned, yes, but easily, conveniently forgotten. Who can forget the Babri Masjid atrocities and who can ever forget the anguished cries of pregnant women who were either cut or burned alive in the Modi spearheaded culling of Muslims in Gujarat?
Then, it were the politicians who masterminded the massacres and got away with murder, scott free; now, young savage thugs, under a religious cover or otherwise, be they Indian in India or Pakistan or Pakistani in Pakistan or whatever, who will get away with murder.
I for one, Muslim or otherwise, am ashamed of what we humans have become, ashamed of humanity that can be so feral and savage. Or have been trained to be, forced to be so. For, looking into my daughter’s innocent face, I am absolutely certain that humanity cannot be so inhuman.