City interrupted

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 5:47 PM in , , ,
I wasn’t going to write about this. To relieve the horrors of the past isn’t one of my favourite pastimes and I was hoping against hope that the country, along with its news agencies, would soon forget about it too. But turn on the tv and all you see is extensive coverage of the Jaipur blasts that rocked the city yesterday evening. The happenings are splashed all across the newspapers and anywhere I look, I see and hear more news coming in from all directions. It is still hard to believe that a series of blasts shook up the streets I have used throughout my growing up. Holed up in my house owing to a curfew in the old city, I see no better way to spend the evening than by following in the footsteps of our mighty politicians and ‘condemning’ the blasts some more myself...


A resident of Kanwar Nagar, I was in my car and fifteen minutes away from Manak Chowk when it happened. I was blocked out of my part of the city for three long hours. I had to take refuge at a friend’s house to shield myself from the six other blasts that followed the first blast. I heard the strongest of voices quiver… I saw terror in the calmest of eyes. I soothed the woes of concerned friends n family. It’s the next day and the phone calls still haven’t stopped. I saw the empty streets… and now I’m witnessing a curfew in the walled city that the officials say will not be lifted before 6pm today. SMS hospital needs O -ve blood. I can’t go because I’m under a virtual house arrest inside the walled city…

The aftermath of yesterday’s happenings could have been a lot worse. Being a Tuesday when maximum devotees throng the hanuman temple (one of the blast spots), it could have easily blown into a full-scale communal riot. The prevailing calm, on the other hand, reflects on the levelheadedness of the city that refuses to get instigated by such deliberate provocations. In fact the only apparent positive consequence of blasts anywhere in India is the rare display of unity and brotherhood amongst the people. Grief is the common thread that runs along them all and unites them in their hour of sorrow. It’s emboldening to see them join hands and stand united against the common element of terror. Unfazed and undeterred, they make an attempt to move on together.

The face of terror is ugly. One way or the other… there is no justification for killing scores of innocents out on the streets of an otherwise peaceful city. Was it the tenth anniversary of the Pokhran tests or was it just another attempt by HuJI and SIMI activists to make their presence felt, is one issue. The extent and reach of these organizations is another issue that is disturbing. Was it the Bangladesh based HuJI, the notorious LeT or some other terrorist organization? Investigations are on and time will tell. The chief minister put the death toll at 60 and the injured figure at 150. Mrs.Raje, actually in Jodhpur at the time of the blasts, even announced a compensation of 5 lacs for the dead and 1 lac for the injured. Never enough for the loss of a loved one… this is the government’s attempt to sideline the complacency in security measures that had crept in owing to a clean past of 280 years of no violence. Is anybody ever truly safe? Can we take our lives and the lives of our loved ones for granted? In the 21st century India… no we cant.

Delhi, Varanasi, Mumbai, Malegaon, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Faizabad and now Jaipur. It’s a disturbing trend that the focus of terror has shifted to even non-metros in the recent years. The official death and injury figures are still rising. The victims tales on television make the heart wrench with pain. A few minutes here and there and it could have been me… or somebody else I knew. In a country where life comes cheap and hangs by the thread… what pains the heart is the whole media cycle of extensive reporting in the first few days, brief mentions in the next and finally a complete lapse of memory thereafter. The amnesia ends when another attack lashes yet another city and brings back memories of the last event. What about learning our lessons from one incident and implementing them elsewhere? Why do we need these rude reminders about slack security to garner the attention of officials who refuse to harbour the notion that this could happen in their city? Is it not a shame that national disasters like these can still boil down to a filthy political blame games, like in Jaipur where a fleeting tv footage shows Vasundhara Raje blaming the center for lack of security arrangements? Somebody needs to own up responsibility and stringent security measures need to be implemented. Who picks up the baton, though, is a question that is not getting any easy answers.

I mock the condemnation expressed by our leaders because that is all that they seem to be doing these days. When they can easily beef up security across the country by installing CCTVs and metal detectors at busy places, approving more stringent identity checks in inter-state travels, enhancing security norms and providing increased patrolling… they consider their job done by simply expressing disapproval. (The infiltration on the borders, especially across Jammu & Kashmir, is another deranging concern…. but that is outside the scope of this article). Help and support from foreign countries is not enough and our leaders need to realize that they are as much a part of these tragedies as the aggrieved. Efforts need to be made to protect the lives of ordinary citizens like you and me. On our part, we must stay informed and be alert. Exercising caution is half the battle won.

From the twin tower tragedy in the US to the train bombings in London… every nation has had its share of terrorism. Needless loss of human life is a malady that demands immediate attention. A lot needs to be done in this regard, for there is no shame bigger than a nation’s incapacity to sustain life and make its citizens feel safe.


'there is no shame bigger than a nation’s incapacity to sustain life and make its citizens feel safe'....drives to the heart of the matter. Is there anything we can do other than get on with our lives the next day? Are we being insensitive to those who died by refusing to pause and proclaiming that life must go on and the city must show the spirit? Maybe we are.

But it is time we focus on the process and not whether a particular terrorist needs to be hanged or not. If the US cops the blame for creating Osama, then we must take the blame for creating the Jaish-e-Mohammed and for releasing those terrorists in Kashmir in 1989 and in Kandahar ten years later. Those steps so emboldned those whose sole aim is the destruction of the Indian state. And we as citizens must take the blame, for we place our families and near and dear ones above the nation. We shamelessly accuse politicians of swapping thier relatives with terrorists and demand the same mistake from them when ours are held hostage.

'What about learning our lessons from one incident and implementing them elsewhere? Why do we need these rude reminders about slack security to garner the attention of officials who refuse to harbour the notion that this could happen in their city?' Genuine questions and as i said in my post, expect no easy answers. But someone has to, i repeat has to, take the lead. The Indian state has to show that the life of its citizens is not cheap. A new beginning would be best way to remember those who lost their lives just becuase they were out on the streets living their lives.

Quoting me n all... attentive reading at your end! Its a first!! Yups... consider this a follow up of sorts to your post. You presented the first half of the problem... and I tried to follow it up with by creating a second half for it. Keep visiting.

But lets get real... between family n nation, whom would you pick? I know my answer..

and i guess i know mine...neither would i ever want my family to plead for a terrorist swap for my release..i cannot carry the burden of the birth of a thousand serpents

Firstly my deep condolences for all who are hurt. Truly this horrendously horrible incident reminds me of hyderabad blasts again and despite the fact many serial blasts in various cities were awefully experienced, any measures for them not to occur in any other city were not taken. Ofcourse all cities who have experienced such storms of blasts have meticulously planned public safety, why dont the unaffected cities open their eyes and see this and start at their own home too.

this is a kind of prevention but y dont we look for a permanant solution, a way to wash off terrorism completely. Right now all that common public can do is express their grimace over such incidents but how do we try to counsel those morons whose heads are filled with fundamentalism and donno wat crap which makes them inhuman and carry out such dangerous missions or y not try to kill this at the grass root level. well we should have a way out ...

Yes i agree, its an utter shame but ppl who are responsible of taking care of this should feel shamed. Hope all the other cities in our country will take this seriously and immediate axn shd be taken and see to it dat no more of this occurs.

@Elysian World/Praveen: Yes, yes n yes. Agree with it all. We need a permanent solution. Thanks for dropping by :)

i could not agree more... i do not have words to express how i feel for the people who commit such ghastly crimes, in teh name of caste/religion/freedom... there is no good excuse for any human being to take an innocent life. period.

Well, I, a Jaipurite myself, have mixed feelings about the way Jaipur coped up with these blasts. I first thought that Jaipurites are really brave in coming out in big numbers again to the places where blasts took place to show their solidarity and sympathy but fact of the matter is, they were those people who had no relative even touched by these blasts. Think about those whose father, mother, sister or brother never came back. They can never ever feel safe again...

Nice read :)
Read more like some newspaper column than a blog entry. You should consider putting this on the cnn-ibn thingy as well

i generally dont like commenting on such articles having not contributed anything in any form.
We should have better leaders.

@sugar&spice/aditi: exactly my point. thanks for dropping by :)

@abhinav bhatt: hope all is well with you and your family. god bless the families of the deceased. stay safe n thanks for visiting.

@arunabh: will put it on ibn. thx for visiting :)

@saik: and better security. thanks for dropping by... n i still cant believe i missed the taj treat :P

Keep up the good work.

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