As Mumbai was held hostage for over 60 hours, the world watched in silence. The three-day bloodbath claimed over 190 lives, wounded over 300 and left thousands across India scarred for life. Citizens across the country were outraged and angered at the inefficiency of those in power and the ignorance of intelligence information. Peace rallies, candlelight vigils, slogan-shouting and much more. The silence was finally broken.
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The whole of India grieved with Mumbai and continues to do so. Including Bangalore. Peace marches, candlelight vigils, meets and discussions are being held across the city. Bangalore broke its silence, too. While some expressed outrage, others felt that the common man should be trained to handle such a terror situation. Yet others felt that the attacks should be dealt with in a more peaceful manner instead of spitting unnecessary venom.
Candlelight vigils were just one of the ways in which Bangalore expressed its solidarity to the victims of the Mumbai siege. One such event, organized on 30th November at Cubbon Park by Prakruthi, witnessed a gathering of 800 residents of the city. Says M S Prasad of Prakruthi, “We organized this candlelight vigil at the Band Stand to not only condemn these attacks but also to pray for those who lost their lives”.
But there were many more reasons why Bangaloreans came together that day. Musician Praveen Rao says, “By lighting a candle, we are saying we are all there for each other and we all need each other, in this time of crisis”. “Accompanied by music, the vigil was a heart-wrenching and beautiful sight,” he adds, “Many were moved to tears”. Praveen who travels across the country with his music group Earthen Beat, now dedicates at least one song for the Mumbai terror victims during his performances.
Another participant of the vigil, Samyukta Basu, a lawyer by profession, says she was there as a part of the Bangalore Bloggers community. “We do not want the initial euphoria to die down. We want to meet again to decide on what kind of leaders we need for this country,” she says.
Though these people know that lighting a candle by itself is not going to make a difference, they say it is their way of telling the world that their life is no longer the same.
Businessman, Gubbi Ranganath, who also participated in this show of solidarity, says he plans to take it forward with friends at his local gym. They plan to organize another candlelight vigil at the Gandhi Bazaar circle. “These are dastardly acts. We condemn those who are responsible for them. That is why we are doing this,” he says.
But, NGOs, like Vimochana, chose to be more subtle in their protests as they organized a meet on 29th November at the Gandhi statue. A member of the NGO who wished to remain anonymous, said, “We want peace. People are overreacting now by saying we should go to war with our neigbours. War should never be an option. This is a political problem, not a military one.”
People, like Prasad, who organized the candlelight vigil at Cubbon Park, also feel that much more needs to be done. “Our NSG commandos and police personnel need to be saluted. We never talk about them unless there are such attacks. We need to do more for these people. We want the common man to be more involved. He/she should know what to do at the time of a terror attack.” Prasad plans to rope in military officials to help citizens understand their role during a terror attack. He is also looking at how an efficient and improved medical system and emergency unit would help during a time like this.
Voicing the same is Sandeep Malviya, a property consultant, who believes that citizens need to be able to defend themselves at times like this. “People should know basic self-defence and survival techniques, if they are ever in a hostage-like situation.” Sandeep is in talks with a defence startup, with whose help he hopes to organize NSG commando training for civilians and also give them an insight into bomb defusal techniques. “What happened to Mumbai should not happen to Bangalore. The people here need to understand that.”
The Mumbai terror attacks have clearly left everyone restless. Voices are being raised as everyone wants change, for the better. They want action, not mere promises. Each and every person is stepping out from the comfort of their home to protest. There is an urgent demand to end this inaction.
Says filmmaker, Venkat Shastri, who participated in the Cubbon Park vigil, “If I cannot spare 10-15 minutes for my country, then what is the use? It is my moral responsibility to do something like this.”
As fires continue to rage in Bangalore, Sandeep Malviya sums it up with a quote, “The life of everyone who was martyred has taken away a few moments of my life.” ⊕