Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tackling the Enigma of Indifference.

German bakery : Two years on : Some lessons to be learnt.

Today marks the second anniversary of the German bakery blast in Pune. It was on the 13th of February, 2010 that the tranquility of my city Pune was blown to shreds. Staying a few minutes away from the site I re- visit the horror everyday as I pass the incomplete construction. What is striking is that a lot has been said but the practicality is far from the reality. Apart from the fact that people have been raving and ranting against the ineptitude of the government almost everyone has forgotten the important lessons that this incident taught us. The truth is no one even talks about it.

Now to be fair yes there have been lapses and there have been shortcomings. So, should we have a cop stationed at every café and shop (Yes, that would create jobs! ) or should every MP and MLA or member of the Cabinet be held responsible for what I'd like to call 'plebeian imprudence.'

A very important revelation in this case was the fact that the bomb that was set off on that fateful evening had been left there by a commoner like you and me in a bag and not one person even noticed it. This in itself is a red alert for us. How often do we keep a watch for an unclaimed article or a bag that may have been left at a public place. How many times have we reported any act of commission or omission that would have made a difference? Do we as citizens not owe that much to our fellow men? Are we so full of ourselves that we forget the obligation to our own?

The inevitability of what happened that horrific evening can neither be questioned nor reversed but I do believe that the crime in this case may have well been averted if someone seated there that evening or even those working there had raised the alarm. Can we afford to forget that the majority of those who lost their lives were in the age group of 20 -35? But this could only have happened if there was sufficient awareness created. That in fact is the core issue here. A responsive member of a society cannot afford to overlook such details especially since we have already had several instances of similar nature in the not-so distant past.

This is the harsh reality. The more we run away from it, the more it will chase us in the form of similar or even more heinous acts of crime. What has me astonished is that we are still trying to figure out 'Whose liability is it anyway?'

So where did the authorities falter:
I have intentionally used the term authorities not as a synonym for government because of one very simple and understandably misconstrued concept. The fait accompli of what took place that evening and what ensued was the primary responsibility of the local authorities. Although not a Security Expert, I do believe the local authorities practiced an orchestrated attempt at passing the buck. What is more surprising is the inane move of the local police who stationed themselves for weeks after the incident took place at the blast site. What were they expecting? No terrorist has attacked the exact same spot twice (atleast none that i know of!) I would definitely appreciate if any of you readers could enlighten me on why we would need to guard a place that was battered to an extent that people stopped traversing there. It just didn't make sense. The question of due care and caution in terms of security was of quintessential importance before the incident. If the overall security of Pune as a whole had been taken care of it probably would never have happened. If an alert citizenry is the need of the hour, the onus of protecting the citizens is not diluted for the guardians of society.

Lessons that we should learn:
Lord Byron once wrote: 'Nothing is so difficult as the beginning' The past is the past. Innocent lives have been lost. But we have to ensure that there isn't an encore la. Let's start afresh and stop playing the blame game and shirking our own responsibility. Due diligence is expected of every person who forms a part of society. History bears witness that experiences of the past are valuable lessons for the future but this is impossible until we accept that it isn't the Government that makes a society, it is we the People who do. Lets not wait for the government, let's not wait for authorities, let's pledge to work ourselves, let's awaken from this deep slumber of hypocrisy and indifference. Its time we use the remedy of 'Awareness' to cure the sickness of taedium vitae that we all seem to suffer from. As far as the authorities are concerned, it is essential that the police work in sync with the members of society. It is even more essential that awareness must be created even if it means right from school level. If schools can have lessons in Disaster management why can't they have awareness camps to avert them? After all, how long are we going to blame someone else for our own tardiness?

Apathy practiced so blatantly prevents us from the pursuit of justice. Posters, candle light marches are all futile attempts for ensuring the speedy delivery of justice.

It is my strong belief that like charity, 'Awareness' must begin at home. This will render it impossible for any social miscreant to spread terror and fear in our hearts and in our lives.


  1. This may not be directly connected to the points you have raised, but it is something that I felt very strongly about. That was the weekend when "My Name Is Khan" was released. There had been so much trouble that security had been heightened at cinemas all over the city. I happened to be driving past E-Square that evening and noticed the number of police there. Just a short time later, I heard about the German Bakery blast.

    My point is, doesn't having to spend so much time, money, manpower to protect us from our own people detract from the threat of terrorism from outside? I'm not saying that this excuses either the authorities or the civilians. But I think that it's about time that supporters of these groups realized that the problems created by our own people just increase the threat to us all from terrorism.

    1. Danielle, that is a very valid point you raised. The reason behind writing this blog was the same, to make it clear that we cannot just pass the buck every time. Not once have I seen the guilt or the blame shared. Everytime I see this kind of indifference it really pains me, and I totally agree that its time the perpetrators of Terrorism (both internal and external) need to realize this.

  2. I agree with your stress on awareness. However, i strongly believe that this awareness should be directed towards would-be-terrorists not would-be-victims. It is public knowledge that there exist elements around us that subvert the youth into extremism. It has to admitted that if a well motivated and determined terrorist decides to smoke a place, there's little the rest of us - including the 'security forces' - can do to prevent it (i know your post was all along against this attitude). Living a life looking around for bombs all the time wouldn't be a life at all.

    Just FYI WTC was attacked in 1993 and again in 2001. (re: No terrorist .. same spot)

  3. Hey Arjun, thanks for the comments. Glad you brought to light the WTC attacks. Like I keep saying, this blog is not about Terrorism, its about awakening. Terrorism thrives on our lack of awareness. The minute we drop our guard,we invite the problem! Youth are not fools these days, but they are gullible so prop er channelizing of thought s is essential. But thats an entirely different debate. The sole point I'm trying to drive here is lets start keeping our eyes and ears open. Let not carelessness be the source of Terrorist activities.

  4. Totally agree with you. It is important that *WE* the citizens are conscious about these things and make sure to report any unidentified/suspicious object found at a crowded place.
    We shouldn't be mad at the Security Guards doing their duty for our safety and spare a minute for the sec check.
    Awareness is very important.

    1. Thank you Khushboo! As always, look forward to my regular reader comments, so glad :) Your right, everyone gets mad at the poor guards. But on the flip side there are many guards who don't pay attention which is also another problem!

  5. I completely agree with what you have said.... Its high time that we stop blaming others for the follies and learn to take responsibilities our self.

    1. Thank you Ashwini. Appreciate your comments!