"I Will Be Back!"
The key questions are what they intended to achieve in their murderous rampage, their identities, and who sent them to Mumbai. Answers are likely to come in the first instance from one of those who clambered out of the inflatable on Wednesday night - 21-year-old Mohammad Ajmal Mohammad Amin Kasab - the only terrorist known to have been captured alive by Indian security forces. As details of his interrogation were disclosed in the media, the first proper understanding of what happened in three days of bloodshed began to emerge out of the contradictory details - building a case that pointed ever more strongly towards Pakistan. It is too early to tell with any precision who is behind these attacks. Indeed, Pakistan’s intelligence service has waged a proxy war against India using terrorists for decades. Today’s attacks, if they are indeed a continuation of Pakistan’s proxy war, threaten to destabilize relations between the two nations further. In the coming weeks, when the chaos has played out and authorities stabilize the situation, it will be crucial to pay attention to the evidence accumulated by Indian authorities. It is possible that Pakistani intelligence played no role in this attack, but it is equally possible, if not likely, that they did. That the tensions will increase in the coming days seems likely. If the attackers' intention was to stir up tensions between India and Pakistan, they most certainly succeeded. For now, however, it is a moment for India to come to terms with what has happened.
While the blame game is on, people blaming the leaders and our leaders blaming the Pakistan leaders, let us in the meanwhile salute the men and women wearing uniform, whether of the commandoes or the hotel staff, who saved many lives, not caring for their own lives. And also take solace from the courageous and very encouraging words of the worldwide survivors:
Sir Gulam Noon, also known as Curry King of England: “Of course, I will be back. Mumbai and India are my home. If I do not come home, these terrorists would win. We can’t allow that.”
Charles Cannon, a spiritual leader from Virginia, USA: “ We plan to return to India. We choose life, and we forgive."
MicKinney and Jan Taylor, a Virginia couple: “Every time there was an explosion out in the hall, I'd open the door just a little bit. And about the fourth time I opened it, I startled some person out in the hall, slammed the door real fast and locked it and about that time he fired at the door, and it missed me by about six inches. We have a souvenir from that experience, in fact, because the bullet pierced our "do not disturb" sign.”
Brooke Satchwell, Australian film star: “Really bloody lucky. But for the brave hotel staff I would not have been alive.”
Mark Abell, London lawyer: "Very efficiently, they took my luggage, put me in the lift, took me down to the lobby and walked me through the carnage. These people here have been fantastic, the Indian authorities, the hotel staff. They are a great advertisement for their land."
Allens of Maitland: "Just like we don't want the world to judge us based on the people that live on the fringes of our society, we don't want others to think badly for just a few people that wreak havoc like this," Maxine Allen said. "They can't win from that stance."
Peggy Sterm, Los Angles: "Evil is everywhere, we have to remember to have more love to counteract it."
Prashant Mangeshiker, gynaecologist: "The man in front of my wife shielded us. He took the bullets. The hotel staff has been very, very brave. But for the courage of Mr Rajan, his wife and daughter could have been dead. I owe it to that brave man."
Kanda Noriyaki, a chef at the Taj Mahal's Japanese restaurant, led trembling and screaming guests to safety. "We hid in the restaurant," he said. "We could hear the firing somewhere very close. Intermittently, there were blasts."
Another recounted how Taj staff stopped panicky guests from rushing into the lobby where militants could have shot them. "They were brilliant," Bhisham Mansukhani said. "If they hadn't kept their cool, many more lives would have been lost."
Bob Nicholls, security director for the South African bodyguards providing protection for cricketers playing in the Indian Premier League tournament, helped lead 120 hostages to safety from the Taj Mahal. Armed only with knives and meat cleavers, the seven guards helped other hotel guests to safety down a fire escape, carrying a traumatised 80-year-old woman in a chair down 25 flights of stairs.
There are many more unsung heroes who appeared like angles and gave a new life to those who had almost given up on this life. God bless them all.