27 November, 2008

Being a Hostage

26th November 2008 sees a new form of attack on Mumbai. Terrorists spray bullets through Kalashnikov automatic rifles at passers by outside Leopold CafĂ©. Injuring and killing a few and move on to the Taj Mahal Hotel near Gateway of India and grab a large party of around 50 odd people as Hostage. In a parallel instance of time at another five star hotel in the same part of downtown Mumbai, The Trident an exact similar situation is executed. They are armed with grenades and AK-47 rifles. Prior to that at Mumbai CST the busiest railway station in all Asia terrorist spray bullets on a platform through similar weapons and escape after killing innocent bystanders. As we read this the situation has worsened in a night’s time more than 120 people have been killed and around 300 odd injured. But little can be done against a man who comes prepared to die and no security or intelligence in the world will be able to combat it ever completely. The Japanese used it in the II world war, the LTTE is the first terrorist army to perfect this technique and now we have the fidayeen. Lots will get written about the terrorist, the motive or the method. But my heart goes out to the hostages in such a situation. Imagine the plight of one.

One you get steam rolled into a situation not of your own making; the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In my exploratory tours in interior Maharashtra had run into Kamala. She was working as a maid and caretaker in the house of an acquaintance. I was watching a Hindi movie that had a kidnap scene. Her eyes goggled up in horror and she gasped. There were just the two of us and worriedly I shut the movie and calming her down asked what the matter was. She said that she had been the victim of a kidnapping. Hesitatingly she told her story and the nightmares that still plague her though it happened years ago. She had gone to the local bank to deposit money and the bank was raided by dacoits. Kamala was near the counter and one of the dacoits used her as a human shield to facilitate the get away. They blindfolded her & carried her off in their vehicle. Luckily for her they did not kill her but three hours later at a distant location they just dumped her out of the car and drove away. The three hours of horror in the car was still seen in her eyes. The captors used extremely abusive language and fondled her, one of them wanted to have her too. In the hurry to get away as far as possible they could not stop, and Kamala had to just endure a few desperate feels. She is not married as she says that the touch of a man repels her.

This conversation with her suddenly came back to me with clarity in this ongoing drama. I could empathize with the plight of the hostage victims.
  • The surprise of being hurled into a deadly situation. This lack of mental preparedness is what throws the victim out of gear. First stage the victim is in denial, It cant happen to me and the next moment extreme trauma as the reality of the situation hits.
  • The constant and immediate closeness to a vile outcome. The fear of death, torture, abuse can be devastating at close quarters.
  • Even in a hostage situation the tension of the captor can result in accidents to the hostages.
    If there is a battle now in a rescue attempt, the hostages can be caught in the crossfire.
  • The sight of death if another hostage is killed in front of you can unhinge the mind by the severe trauma witnessed.
  • There can even be some serious impacts in long hostage situations like the Stockholm Syndrome as was seen in the Patty Hearst case.
  • Things are never the same again for released hostages and most need extensive counseling else they may live life in denial, not having come to terms with the situation like Kamala. A freak scene triggered an unpleasant memory and her fear of men.

Someplace our world has gone topsy-turvy where people are forgetting the gospel of love preached and taught by our founders of humanity. The people who breed hate in others that these terrorists go on a rampage of destruction of man and property are the true villains here. The terrorists on the spot are but the tools of a syndrome. One can only pray for better sense to prevail in the world. I don’t have answers here, only a lot of questions.


dotcomgirl said...

The past 2 days have been really trying for Mumbaikars.... not that we are in the thick of the situation but the thought of sending loved ones to school or work has become so stressful.Just imagining that they may not come back brings tears to my eyes. I cant imagine what the hostages and their families must be going through! I just pray that something like this never happens again.

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Its tough yes, these are untoward situations not of ones making that end up disrupting our sense of wellbeing