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…an American asks, as we are huddled over a muffled CNN-IBN live feed, playing on HG’s laptop, ensconced in the regulated calm in our offices in Sunnyvale, California – far away from the madness on the streets of Mumbai. The reporting is as chaotic as reality over there… with rumours becoming headlines and then “corrected” with fresh rumours. No one know’s what is going on. All we know is that Mumbai is under attack. Luxury Hotels are being targeted. There is rampant gunfire and blood on the streets and images of women prematurely mourning the dead. The number of dead itself is being updated every 10 minutes…started with 3 and now I see the number 90 on the screen.

Why?

One of our Indian colleagues here, whose sister lives in Mumbai, answers, “No one knows why. In fact these terrorists themselves don’t know why.” Prior to 9/11 Americans wouldn’t have understood this. Now they understand this only too well…

Why?

HG and I are feeling helpless, both of us being away from our hometown. From aamchi Mumbai. Our people are ok. We just checked. Dee is tweeting away with live updates. My head spins as I see the insanity unfolding in front of us – hapless policemen being directed by hapless ministers and their hapless emergency committees. HG asks, “Why the hell do they have to have meetings now? Why can’t they have standard plans they can execute?”

Too many Why’s.

There are hostages now. Dee sends a message at 3 AM India time – “They’ve wrecked our home Abhi. Annihilated it.” Wrecked is what those high profile hostages in the five star hotels, would be feeling right now. Atleast the ones who are still alive. The injured are 900 weak now. The insanity continues as the Deccan Mujahideen claims responsibility for these attacks. What? These guys have frachisees now? Why are they growing unfettered and unchecked?

Why?

This is terrorism back to the basics. No huge bomb blasts – just scores of terrorists loose on the streets with dual cartridge AK-47s and grenades. This is Urban Guerilla warfare. This is the kind of terrorism that will get under the skin of everyone in Mumbai. As Dee puts it – this is like Somalia. Top cops are dead. Was this too a part of the plan? The famous dome of the Taj Mahal Hotel is burning.  All flights coming into Mumbai have been cancelled or diverted. Will be able to get back in time? I want to be there…with my family.

How long will we, as a nation, stand this? Again and again they strike at our heart. They hurt us, kill our brothers and sisters. And we blame Pakistan, close the borders and sever diplomatic relations. I can’t believe I am saying this – but I am suddenly realizing why US reacted the way it did after 9/11. At one point, concillatory policies have to be replaced with aggression. This is war. I hope we realize that soon…and fight. Or else – even after the embers die down tonight – it won’t be long before they strike again.

Edited: The first photos from the mayhem are coming in from Vinu…you can see them at http://www.flickr.com/photos/vinu/page1/

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