Saturday, November 29, 2008

Live Blog: Bombay under Siege XIX: Epilogue

11.00 a.m.

Phew! Relieved that it's all over. Many lost their lives. There's a sense of relief and a profound silence in the city. The security forces should be admired for their courage, especially the officers who gave their life to protect the city.

I grieve for Hotel Taj, one of my favorite hotels. I don't know if it will be the same again. I have time and time again visited its ancient and well-maintained portals: to browse books in Nalanda, to eat pastries in Pattisieri, just to bask in its luxury, for however brief time that I had on my hand. I would indulge myself to tea at the Sea Lounge, just to watch the boats bobbing in the bay outside, and see the majestic Gateway of India. I couldn't bear to watch my favorite hotel on fire. It looked too incongruous. 

Among the dead:

Policemen:

Hemant Karkare (ATS Chief)
Vijay Salaskar (Valiant Inspector and know for his encounters with criminal gangs)
Sandeep Nair (NSG Commando)
Gajendra Singh (NSG Commando)

Many others...

Business:

Pankaj Shah: builder, Satellite Group
Anil Bhatt: Noted Solicitor
Ashish Kapoor: Chairman, Yes Bank
Monica Chaudhary: Actor Ashish Chaudhary's sister 

One terrorist - Azam Amir Kasav of Faridkot, Pakistan was caught. He recounted the sequence of events. They hijacked a boat and killed the owner and landed in the sea off Bombay. There were 10 of them in all and they split into groups of two each:

4 went to the Taj
2 went to Oberoi Trident
2 went to Nariman HOuse
2 went to VT

Azam is now in police custody and is being interrogated at an undisclosed destination. When he was led away from the hospital where he went for treatment for a bullet injury, he pleaded with the hospital staff: "kill me, I don't want to be alive."

I call this irony on a huge scale. Here's a man who came to spread terror, was the cause of so many dead people, no longer able to withstand what he had unleashed. One of the most poignant piece of writing I read was on Annie Zaidi's blog. She asks: "How can they be called mujahideens (holy warriors) when they open fire in a hospital" or something to that effect.

That's the irony of it all. An irony that doesn't impute an explanation. 

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