How does a fall guy become a bone of contention? Ajmal Kasab has reiterated my belief that Pakistan-India relations are based on hallucinations. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has handed over the arrest warrants of Kasab and Faheem Ansari and wants India to share intelligence information. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that if Pakistan brings “the perpetrators of the horrible crime of 26/11 to book...we would be very happy to begin talking once again about all issues”.
Was this the first “horrible crime”? There were instances of Pakistan violating the ceasefire line along the LoC. Did we decide to stop talks because of that? Where were the junket junkies who run the enterprise of borrowing sugar daddies from the neighbour? Why was there no pressure from Saint Hillary then? The US has always wanted a foothold in Indian affairs and this was its great opportunity. India realised the benefits of a subtle partnership since India has an arsenal of expats that pulls the strings, along with influential local industrial houses.
The media, too, refers to the event as a “big ticket terrorist attack” to pamper the Indian Popcorn League. Recently the Mumbai police commissioner appealed, “We want citizens to come forward in bigger numbers and be alert about any suspicious movements. This will assist the police in combating terrorism.” The state director general of police said, “Every Indian must rise above regionalism and religious communalism.’’ The latter comment was uncalled for, especially in a city that is targeting immigrants from other states. As for assisting the cops, I am against citizen vigilantism as it creates groups of vested interests and alarmists.
On April 8 a report mentioned a prank call made to the Taj Mahal Hotel by a nine-year-old “fixated by images of 26/11”. The kid warned that the hotel would be blown up at 10 pm. No staffer dialled back the number visible on caller ID and the cops did not bother to trace the call. Instead, the bomb disposable squad sweep-searched the place and blocked access to the hotel. The caller was from Assam and the family had stayed at the Taj last year when the boy, fascinated by pictures of smoke clouds, had picked up a business card from the front desk. If such absurdities are possible, it is a telling comment on the manufacturing of paranoia. Part of our obsession with the 2008 attack has to do with America’s obsession with 9/11.
Even the public prosecutor, whose business is to speak for the state and not himself, dramatically declared in court that he was Kasab’s “enemy number one”. When concerned coteries on autopilot mode say, “Hang him!” they are flaunting their neo-consciences like any bauble. Letting him go would mean doing away with a social constituency that is enthralled by this monogrammed phenomenon. He is the voodoo doll we need to aim darts at. That one image of him ambling cockily in his cargo pants holding a gun worked wonders with The Clique. They have a symbiotic relationship, almost like a mutual Stockholm Syndrome. Kasab morphed from village boy – a village no one was sure existed until the Pakistani media got the scoop – to linguist, actor, confessor, and retractor.
He performed impromptu, quite surprisingly without resorting to patriotic jingoism that seems to have not registered with the authorities. If there had been a script, he should have swallowed a cyanide pill and died. He lived to tell the tale, not of the attack but of the power of piffle. His story is a revelation of the chinks in the armours of both nations. “Vahashat havas ki chaat gaii khaake- jism ko/be-dar gharon mein shaql kaa saayaa kahaan se aaye” — Kishwar Naheed
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