How can a State be so criminally neglectful towards the safety of its citizens, asks Tarun Vijay.
It is unbelievable to see the non-observance of the fifth anniversary of the 26/11 attacks and the scant, almost dismissive, expressions of fatigued respects for it heroes.
The media, leaders, police officers and their masters, students and the Malabar Hill candle-wallahs, were all absent.
The only fire that kept the flames of 26/11's memories alive was the masterpiece in investigative journalism, written by two foreigners.
How I wish an Indian journalist had penned this book. The pain, hurt and the unending sorrow that 26/11 inflicted, is ours. The pen that chronicled the event courageously and exposed the nincompoops amidst us along while presenting with honour the heroes and the bravehearts, was inked abroad.
The writers -- Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark -- deserve the gratitude of every patriotic Indian. The Siege is certainly not just a book; it is an eye-opener to our nation.
It is a question mark on the conduct of our nation State, on our hollow and highly politicised media that hardly follows any professionalism, on the un-preparedness of our forces and their ugly, incompetent political masters who would never make security a prime matter to be dealt with nor allow national defence to be an important issue on their election agenda.
Please don't die without reading this book.
The fifth year of 26/11 has turned the assault and its impact into a pale shadow. Look at the newspapers and high-decibel television debates and you will find the unbelievable non-coverage of the attacks, as if it never occurred or may be someone thought it is a bad communal memory, so 'in the national interest' let us try to have it erased.
Having read The Siege, I can believe, we secular Indians are capable of taking a decision to erase the memories of 26/11 and we are continuing with what we were doing before 26/11 -- that is to keep the talks going on with Pakistan, whether or not it punishes the masterminds of the attack.
The Siege disturbs the reader.
How can a State be so criminally neglectful towards the safety of its citizens?
How can a police force be manned and led by those who have no idea to put up a formidable defence in times of a highly-sophisticated and sudden attack?
How can a police chief be so calculatedly cold and disinterested to put up combat in time of such a crisis?
How can a State allow savage jihadis a free run for 28 hours to kill innocents and be silent later about suspected Inter Services Intelligence moles in our security establishment?
For more than a year, clear warnings were discarded and weapons of the security personnel were not upgraded, they were not trained, the security of hotels in spite of impeccable intelligence information, was not fortified, maps of hotels and places that were sensitive were never obtained or internalised by the police force, the entire coastline, supposedly being guarded by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, was left at the mercy of fishermen?
How can the leaders, rulers and otherwise, be so careless about defending the nation and her people?
This and much more has been meticulously, without any colour or comment, been described in The Siege.
If a nation and her people can't rise against rogues and butchers, and punish them as harshly and mercilessly as they deserve, their right to live with dignity and fearlessly will continue to be violated.
More than the Ajamal Kasabs and Mohammad Saeeds, India is assaulted by the so-called sham secular forces who shamelessly cover and shield anti-national offenders to serve political ends that put religious colour before the national tricolour.
It is not true that India does not have the expertise to defeat and eliminate terrorism. It is the will to do that is lacking and the main reason for that is the so-called false and hollow secularism that makes national interest subservient to political vote power.
It is as simple as that. The Naxalite menace, the insurgency in the North-East, the ISI's mischievous jihad in Kashmir and elsewhere, all are preventable.
The elements waging a war against an India that in their eyes is essentially Hindu, hence should be bled and defeated, are cowards.
India's brave forces, consisting of all religions -- Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Christian -- all under one tricolour, can easily trounce and crush them. But where are the plans and the orders?
Indian State secularism has turned anti-security, which derives its strength from an appeasement policy that looks at Muslims as vote-banks, easy to be manoeuvred and goaded.
In fact, it is insulting to any community to be seen as a segment that is manageable with some special gifts. But that is the sad reality and the worst victim is India's internal defence policy.
Stringent laws against terrorism are repelled on communal considerations.
Security forces are asked to sit idle and take no action even when insurgent groups charge illegal 'taxes' from government officials and local traders in the North-East.
Strange unending rounds of 'peace talks' with anti-national insurgent groups cripple the will and morale of the security personnel.
A force that should have been well-oiled and upgraded to face the thugs of jihad is often more deployed to provide unnecessary fancy protection to political leaders.
The common people, who show heroic performance in any crisis time, are soon forgotten and left to their karma.
This India must change. We deserve better leaders and better defence.
The Siege is a must read for those who still have a fire in their heart, and love India more than anything else.
Image: National Security Guard commandos on the roof of Chabad House during the 26/11 attacks. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
Tarun Vijay is a Bharatiya Janata Party Member of the Rajya Sabha.