After the 26/11 attacks, Khyati Gandhi, 17 immediately found a way to express herself by taking part in a protest march at the Gateway of India. “At that time, it felt like the right thing to do because people needed to vent their frustrations,” said the student of Jai Hind College, Churchgate.
Three years on, Gandhi feels that such protests are futile, adding, “If you ask me to go for a rally now, I would not go because I know that slogans, rallies and banners do not work. What our country needs is better security.”
Gandhi is not alone in feeling a sense of disillusionment after the serial blasts took place on Wednesday evening. This time around, rather than applauding the city’s ability to get back on its feet, college students are mulling over the deteriorating situation.
Ahuti Das, 20, a student of St Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao feels that question of resilience does not arise because Mumbaiites have no choice. “The dictionary meaning of resilience is the ability to recover readily from adversity. We are not ready to recover. We are forced to,” she said.
Das said the situation is akin to that in Palestine, where citizens “live in a constant state of fear, but are still living.”
Many students have experienced this fear in varying degrees. Kartik Khera, 20, a student of Jai Hind College, went through a harrowing time when his cousin, who was a chef at the Taj Palace Hotel, was shot in the arm while evacuating guests during the 26/11 attacks. “This time around, the feeling of relief that everyone in the family is safe overrode the fear we felt last time. We are now able to understand what people must be going through.”
Even as his cousin is on his way to recovery, Khera reiterates the sense of apathy that he feels now. “As sad as it is, facing these situations is practically a part of being a citizen of Mumbai,” he adds wryly.
Students are not only unhappy with the state of affairs, but also with the insensitive television coverage on the matter. Samay Desai, 17, who studies at SM Shetty Junior College, Powai said, “I was appalled when almost every news channel, instead of giving details of the blasts, flashed names of celebrities who had condemned the attacks. It is the last thing that should be flashing on TV screens.” Desai is not completely cynical though, insisting that one cannot blame the government for everything, as people are accustomed to doing. He said, “During times of crisis, Mumbaiites never think twice before helping out, so not all is bad.”