Needed: A city sensitive to terror
Recently, this paper ran a front-page story on how citizens were tested by the police, particularly in South Mumbai, for alertness and alacrity
The police placed dozens of empty bags and boxes at certain locations in the city — the Grant Rd area, Taj Mahal Hotel, Zaveri Bazaar, Panchratna — to see if Mumbaikars were alert enough to raise an alarm. The exercise proved that most citizens did not even notice the empty bags. In some cases, people even opened the bag, which is hugely alarming, and were disappointed when they found nothing of value in it.
As the 1993 bomb blasts verdict showed, India was exposed to a new kind of terror after that. The security landscape changed entirely after that day and unfortunately, citizens have seen many terror attacks post 1993 — which makes it more worrying that hardly anybody raised any kind of alarm and instead of staying away from the bag or object actually moved towards it.
It is also important to note that many of these objects were placed around the vicinity of previous terror attacks. Even after so many terror attacks, people actually moved towards bags, touching them and opening them. If they were bombs, they would have exploded at once.
They need to be taught how one should react in these circumstances. Having said that, there is a difference between being alert and being paranoid, and this must be internalised. Israelis, long subjected to terror attacks, show a high degree of awareness when reacting to threats. As India is sucked into the vortex of global terror, people from every state need to make awareness and response their second nature. This is the need of the bloody times we live in.