Aseem Chhabra Offers a weekly New York perspective on Indian issues
Terrorism is a constant
Our governments have little idea about how to eradicate those who are creating terror
Last week New York City witnessed a horrible tragedy. An eight-year old Hasidic Jewish boy was supposed to meet his mother in the afternoon, three blocks away from his summer camp, but he failed to show up. The city’s highly insulated, but tightly knit Hasidic community made major efforts to find the boy.
A few days later, a close circuit video led the police to the home of a Jewish man who confessed to killing the young boy, cutting his feet, which he stored in his freezer and then dismembering the rest of the child’s body. Marks on the boy’s arms indicated that he had put up resistance.
Even New York City’s police commissioner, Ray Kelly, who is used to handling the toughest terrorists and criminals, was visibly moved. “In this business, you see a lot of violence,” Kelly said at a press conference announcing the killer’s arrest. “Here, it defies all logic. That’s what is so disturbing about this case. It’s heartbreaking.”
I have been thinking about the young boy’s parents, what they must have gone through when he failed to show up, when he was supposed to see his mother. And now they will have to live with the tragedy for the rest of their lives.
Last week, there was the horrible news from Mumbai. The three bomb blasts on Tuesday evening left 18 people dead and over hundred injured. The last person to die was a 24-year-old man, who must have been someone’s son, brother, husband or father. It is hard to fathom what this young man’s family must have gone through on Tuesday night trying to locate him and now knowing that he will never come back.
Such thoughts take me back to the harrowing scene in Mani Ratnam’s Bombay when the film’s protagonists, played by Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala, search for their twin boys as Mumbai burns in the aftermath of the 1993 riots, and A R Rahman’s hypnotic background score silences their helpless voices. I have never been in a war zone, or witnessed a riot or a bomb explosion, but I always imagine it would be a scenario like the one created by Ratnam.
The night of the bombings there seemed to be a lot of anger that once again Mumbai had been targeted by terrorists.
Later, journalist Naresh Fernandes suggested in his thoughtful piece on The New Yorker’s website that a certain amount of cynicism had crept into the soul of Mumbai. But I would like to believe that many Mumbaikars still care for and feel the pain of those who have lost their loved ones.
We live in very difficult times. Death and destruction is in the news at all times from troubled spots in the world — Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq — and from within India (Kashmir, the North East or recently in Forbesganj, Bihar). Each time a person — man, woman and child dies — many family members mourn that death. Each of the 3,000 plus people, who died when Al Qaeda’s terrorists crashed their two planes in the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, left behind survivors and layers of heartbreaking stories.
What is more troubling is that our governments have little idea about how to eradicate organizations and individuals who are hell bent on destruction, revenge and creating terror. Ten years and trillions of dollars later, the US claims it is winning the war against terror, especially after Osama Bin Laden’s death, but I believe terrorism is not going to end, and will be a way of life for us for decades into the future.
The day after the gruesome discovery of the young Hasidic boy’s death in Brooklyn, I was chatting with a friend on Twitter who has a young son. He had been following the case of the missing boy and was shaken up by the news. I suggested to him that he should go give his son an extra hug that night. We should feel blessed that we have our loved ones with us. For there are many whose family members will never come back home again.