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Thursday, July 14, 2011

(Published in on 14 July, retrieved from

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It happened in 1993, it happened in 2003, it happened in 2006, 2008 and 2011.
Everyone knows the pattern now. The Home Minister appears on TV, followed by the top cops. Journalists troop to the spot, news editors launch tirades against the cowardliness of jihadis, cameramen scour hospitals for images of misery, and desk hands intersperse these with reports of heart-warming gestures.
Someone drove a bleeding someone else to hospital in his new Porsche, yet another Samaritan threw open the doors of his home to strangers.
Ram Gopal Varma and Amitabh Bachchan tweeted, and Wikipedia got confused about Kasab’s birthday. In the next few days, Mumbaikars will take out a candlelight vigil, and everyone will celebrate the spirit of Mumbai.
There is mild speculation about how this will impact India-Pakistan talks, and whether the two countries will play cricket again. But the UPA and PPP will kiss and make up, dissociate Kashmir from the 60-year-long battle for Kashmir and watch the World Cup together.
After all, terrorists are stateless actors, and home-grown terror is one of the common points we can bond over. Well, that and the fact that a bunch of our political leaders were born in each other’s countries.
In the middle of this love-hate drama, the Opposition will scream that Afzal Guru should be hanged, and the ruling coalition will patiently explain – again – that, at all costs, order must be maintained, and Afzal Guru and Ajmal Amir Kasab must feast on biryani until the time comes for them to be led to the gallows.
No one can accuse our parliamentarians of conceit. They may think they deserve hikes while Army salaries should have a ceiling, but they certainly don’t think a terrorist who tries to annihilate them is more...umm, shall we say hang-worthy than a terrorist who fires at regular citizens.
But these two men who sit in prison, quite literally eating up crores of taxpayers’ money, have become symbols of India’s ineptitude. You can bomb this country again and again. Some people will make films based on those, and other people will lose their lives and limbs, but nothing will get in the way of camaraderie and cricket.
Somewhere down the line, a retired-intelligence-officer-turned-strategy-analyst will reveal that there was prior warning of an impending attack, but that it got lost in the maze of bureaucracy. Because that’s how India works.
You can bomb this country or hold its people hostage when you want something – for example, the release of terrorists like Maulana Masood Azhar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar. In that case, you might consider hijacking an aircraft. Your buddies will be given a grand send-off, and India’s politicians may even consider saluting their battle standard or whatever else they use, and they will be free to start terror organisations and kidnap and kill American journalists.
Or, you could simply do it for fun – in which case, you might want to barge into a few hotels. Our TV crew will keep you updated on how our National Security Guards plan to get you – it’s like an in-built cheat code! Wow.
Then, you have two options – you can escape back to your own country (if you weren’t raised in India), or you can get caught by the police here.
If you decide to go back home, India won’t succeed in extraditing you. Why, if you play your cards right, we may even see you home, scratch our heads, and want you back. If you’ve escaped to the US, you can strike a deal that prevents authorities from extraditing you to India. If you’ve flown off to Denmark, the courts won’t want you to catch Delhi Belly in India, so they’ll keep you snug and safe back home.
And if you do decide to surrender, you’ll be put on narcotics for a while. People will get in touch with your childhood friends, and find out you were a peace-loving, soft-spoken child, and that evil terror camps – some started by the terrorists we released (whoa, what a coincidence!) – brainwashed you. Then, we’ll feed you better than we can feed our homeless hordes.
I mean, it’s not like we’re America. We don’t try to smoke you out of your cave, or bomb your safe house by breaching someone else’s airspace. Come on, it’s not like you don’t have democratic rights. And who says you weren’t born here, anyway? Which means you havemore democratic rights.
In time, maybe you can work out a deal for exclusive interviews and even book contracts with our media.
You don’t believe me? Look at Afzal Guru and Ajmal Amira Kasab. What, they didn’t jump ship? Fine, then look at David Coleman Headley and Kim Davy. What, they’re in a soup in other countries? All right, look at Maulana Masood Azhar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar.


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