Looking behind at 26th November : This day that year

As a student of law, throughout November I have been eager to dedicate a post to Samvidhan Divas and as someone who has been fascinated by the White Revolution, I have been eager to write about National Milk Day.  However, last night I was suddenly reminded of the darker significance of 26th November as I came across Hotel Mumbai being shown on TV. When the Kandahar hostage crisis shook the nation I was of barely seven years old. So when Mumbai was struck by terror once again on the night of 26th November 2008, youngsters of my generation had never known of a coordinated attack of this large scale. As Taj Hotel continued to be under siege for three days, the rest of the country remained glued to their TV sets. While the government agencies and security grappled with the situation owning to lack of preparedness, with no regulation in place for live coverage of such incidents, media houses brazenly had their heyday. It was only much later that the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015 got enacted that prohibited “live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces” and restrict media coverage to “periodic briefing” by a designated officer “such operation concludes.”[1] The only feature film I have managed to watch to date on the aforementioned attacks is Hotel Mumbai till date partly because of the impressive trailer and party because it was the best pick out of the movies that had released back then. One of the most important achievements of this movie is that it has duly paid a tribute to the employees of the Taj Hotel who stayed back to save the lives of the guests. I read somewhere that when recruitment takes place for staff at the hotel, compassion is one of the traits they value highly and that’s where all the difference is made.

Recently I tried rewatching Bombay because of my reverence for Mani Ratnam, AR Rehman, Manisha Koirala, and Arvind Swamy, put together. However, I became so disturbed that I had to shut down my laptop midway and had a difficult time falling asleep that night. So naturally, the only movies that I have watched regarding the concerned attacks, are those which involved an element of suspense and one becomes aware of their connection with the attack only towards the end. It is because of this same reason that I cant write about them as I would hate to ruin someone’s viewing experience in the zeal to praise them. With all due respect to those who have been contributed to creating a rich body of work regarding the same, the bombings that took place apart from the Taj Hotel have not been documented sufficiently by fiction. Twelve bombings took place in total that night. Although the one at the Taj Hotel, was the scariest one considering that those inside didn’t know if they would come out alive for three days, I hope the other attacks receive the same amount of attention from authors and filmmakers alive. With this thought, I would like to pay homage to all those who lost their lives on that fateful night and those brave souls who laid down their lives in the line of duty.

[1] Sanjay Pinto, When the screen goes blank, The Hindu, 7th November 2016

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