By K Unnikrishnan
Today is the 10th anniversary of ‘26/11’. As we all know, ten years ago, humanity the world over witnessed a brazen terrorist attack targeting this city of Mumbai, which was sponsored and executed by elements nurtured and supported by our neighbours across the western border. We could not do anything until the ten heavily armed, trained and brain-washed misguided youth reached and settled wherever they wanted, including our bedrooms.We allowed them to inflict maximum injury to our nationhood. We brought in forces after forces and tried to minimise the damage and to an extent succeeded in containing them and finally eliminating 9 of them. We managed to capture one of them alive, courtesy Shri Thukaram Ombale, the brave ASI, who accomplished it almost single-handedly and without any weapon on his possession. Whenever I think of 26/11 my first salute goes to that ideal soul.
Mumbai, and for that matter, the entire nation bounced back to normalcy soon after, much to the appreciation of the whole mankind. Ten years down the line, we could not bring the perpetrators to book even after proving their involvement internationally. Rather they were declared innocents by their home nation and classified our claim as baseless. They are permanently protected and supported by their handlers as a matter of state policy of a country that harbours terrorists.
My worry is that we are content with our ability to come back to normalcy under any circumstances tolerating atrocities committed on our sovereignty. We, as a nation, should be able to frame permanent stern policies for dealing with our ‘enemy’ against their using terror as a permanent weapon instead of changing our reaction on and off for political or administrative reasons.
26/11 is by and large an eye-opener not only as a terrorist activity but more as a black spot on our ability to anticipate such a sinister plan by organisations sponsored by our neighbour. We have to admit that our approach to counter that incident had a number of flaws. True, we analysed our loopholes, lapses and delays and concluded that we erred on several fronts. It will remain as a very rare incident where our own media gave live link to the adversaries to handle their evil operations successfully, which may not have many parallels in the history of anti-terrorist operations in the world.
The lessons learnt are many that include the need for anticipation, efficient and effective guard against such serious attacks on our innocent civil population, intelligence failure or failure to implement gathered intelligent information and the pros and cons of engagement of multiple security agencies in a single operation as well as the role of the media.
The commemoration of the anniversary of 26/11 gives us an opportunity to thank and honour the living legends of 26/11 who are not remembered or honoured as often as the fallen heroes. A few of them must be around us here watching the proceedings silently. This is also an opportunity for desirous motivated youngsters to dedicate themselves in the service of this great Nation.
I am thankful to the organisers of this programme for giving me an opportunity to stand here solely on the merit of my son, the soldier who never hesitated to do his duty sincerely and wholeheartedly without any fear of the impending danger.