The brazen shooting at the Jama Masjid is an exercise in frustration, it seems. 100 meters from a police station, at a prime target for terrorist attacks on the fabric of the nation, in the capital of a country already on alert for terror attacks, two “amateurs” loitered around in a suspicious manner before shooting at tourists and then got away on a motorcycle!
While it is definitely something for the police to work on, we citizens as a whole are not at all prepared for living in a world where terror attacks are a fact of life. Like living in a city means learning to look carefully before crossing a road, living in the world these days means being alert for possible threats. As a people, we need to learn to notice our surroundings and happenings automatically, like we notice cars on the road automatically.
India, as a country is too laid back and trusting. While it is the charm of India, it is also a need of the changing world that we learn to have boundaries that are enforced. As a country, we go through the motions of security procedures without feeling that need for safety, without entertaining that niggling suspicion about the possibility for harm. Its a facade, while we leave wide open anything not specifically mentioned. Stray luggage shouldn’t be “oh, someone forgot”, but “unidentified, abandoned, possibly threatening object”. If someone truly forgot, its great, it won’t be stolen. If its a bomb, you have saved lives. This can’t be bad.
We should also have a plan of action in case of terrorist attacks. How can we keep ourselves and others safe? How can we help in the perpetrators being caught? Things that immediately come to mind:
- Get out of the way of immediate danger. Hide, run away.
- Notify police.
- Notice, record. Observe the faces of the people. Their clothes. Vehicles, other people who may possibly be with them, but not attacking… Write down, or talk about details with other people around, so that they are not forgotten. A school kid had once suggested that someone write down the numbers of every vehicle in the area and give them to the police. These could turn out important later or if any pattern emerges.
- Most cell phones have cameras. Use them.
- See if there are escape routes that can be blocked without too much risk. For example, blocking a street to prevent a getaway, locking main gates of a building, compund…