Yes, I am a killer, and I’m proud of it!
I know you must be wondering whether I’m in the right frame of mind or not. I asked myself the same question when I carried out pest control to clean my house thirteen years ago. My adrenaline rushed, and a wave of mixed emotions ran through my bloodstream within those four crucial hours of my life. Needless to say, I was scared, scared that I would get caught for doing the opposite of what a “common man” is expected to do. But the rage seething beneath my agony had to meet a manoeuvre that would placate me and fill me with a sense of self-accomplishment. Every time I think about that Wednesday afternoon, it makes me question my valour, for an instance, whilst chills run through my spine. I’m aware that Rathod Saahab thinks that nobody but him and his police team for this case will carry that Wednesday to their grave. However, I’m one of those people, too.
With burning pyres and meagre burial grounds, the Covid-19 pandemic ruined many families and left them with a void. Nonetheless, the deaths reported are just numbers until you have lost someone of your own. If there is any similarity between the deaths caused by this global pandemic and terrorism, it is the loss of countless innocent lives. As you switch on the T.V. and follow the news leading to a bomb blast, you either check on your relatives or be thankful for how your children or wife were not a part of this barbaric death. Alas, we pray and sympathise with the bereaved and get adjusted to leading life with a quivering heart. But does a common man deserve to live in the contour of terror, fearing whether he will lose his loved ones to a train blast or some other explosion?
“Justice delayed, is justice denied,” said William E. Gladstone in the 19th century, and how despicable it is to watch this quote find room for itself in the present day as well. Years and years go by, yet the blindfolded lady never raises her sword towards the sky to serve the delinquent assassins what they sowed. Often I would find myself mulling over how pressing a button could make so many bodies shatter like blazing shreds of paper within a matter of seconds. Just how easy it is for a cold-blooded brute to lay a lifelong mourning path for our loved ones.
The Mumbai train blast of 2006 is what coerced me to fight back. I will never forget my wife’s hysterical voice on the call after her eyes met the catastrophic headlines of the bomb blast. “Where are you? Did you catch your train today? Are you alright?” She was struggling to catch her breath while crying inconsolably. “Just please come home. Please. God has been really kind to us. I’m waiting. Please be safe and HURRY UP,” she practically screamed. I had never seen my wife so petrified. But deep inside my heart, I knew that God had not spared me for nothing. I guess I was destined to miss my train that day.
Lost, scarred and trying to process what had just happened, I somehow reached home. I saw my wife and children running to me and hugging me as tightly as they could; she looked at me, thanked the Almighty, and continued telling me how scared she had been. But I was disoriented from everything that was happening around me. Fortunately, I had not lost someone of my own to the blast. However, the mourns of so many people were constantly resonating in my ears, as if pleading to seek vengeance on their behalf.
Fast forward a few months after the blast, you could see fear residing in the eyes of every commoner travelling via train, and I was one of them. “I don’t think it is safe for you to go to work via local train anymore. Money is not more important than life,” said my wife. It was my first day of going to work after the blast. I looked at her and smiled, “don’t you worry. I will be back before you know it,” I tried to reassure her as well as myself. After I boarded the train, every glance that I met was with someone new. I could not stop thinking about how happy that newly engaged man was. I also could not stop thinking about how we knew each other by “hello” and nothing more, yet losing them felt like a personal loss.
My heart would race in sync with the train running on the tracks, taking me back to the day of that ruthless bomb blast. Moving back and forth, the train would jolt me each time I would try putting a bandaid on my wound while being lost in my own train of thoughts. I guess they are right—some bruises never heal, but leave you hollow, instead. It took me a solid four weeks besides the year-long planning to come up with a concrete plan and deliver justice to the grieving families of the murdered. Unlike the politicians and the extremists, my mind could not paint the blast with the colours of communal politics. Hence, keeping my name anonymous assured me that people would fail at hunting for my religion in my name.
“What are you? Hindu? Muslim?” Rathod Saahab asked. I realised that he, too, had failed at escaping the communal hate trap. “Please don’t drag my religion into this. I’m any random face you see in the crowd. When a cockroach enters your house, Rathod Saahab, do you pet him or do you kill him? I’m just a common man, wanting to clean his house and make it cockroach-free,” I said. Yes, these terrorists are like cockroaches that deserve to be quashed. I am like any other man who is scared of someone carrying a tasbih in his hand. But I am also the man who is scared to wear a kufi and keep a beard. If the masterminds behind all these bomb blasts don’t care whether it will be the body of a Hindu or a Muslim burning in flames, why do we? I and hundreds like me will either fall prey to terrorist activities or the riots on the road in the name of religion.
I’m aware of how quaint my methods and demands were; trust me, I am. But the fact that these goons could get away with killing hundreds and thousands of innocent people like me did not sit right with me. It takes us years and years together to prove whether a person is guilty or not, and it is in a situation like this when a commoner takes the law into his own hands to deliver justice. The expectation to lead an everyday life, lay low, and adjust to adverse circumstances make us resilient by force and not by choice.
Upon receiving confirmation of the assassination of those four militants—Ikhlaque Ahmed, Ibrahim Khan, Khurshid Lala and Mohd. Zaheer, I honestly felt that I had won in life. The sheer incompetence of the government authorities made a commoner like me pull the trigger because apparently, killing four cockroaches like them was not as justified as the demise of hundreds of people in the blasts. Our flawed system has made it way too easy for miscreants to get away with any and every crime. But people like you and me get levigated amid crime and delayed or no justice at all.
The authorities and the people who were not even remotely affected by the train bombings sighed at this incident like just another bomb blast. However, this was beyond the seal of an act of terrorism. It was a question spat on our system on a Friday and repeated on a Tuesday, that this is how those militants will continue to kill us. I am just a stupid common man who had the nerve to reply to them on a Wednesday through my own ambiguous methods, which were “against” the moral compass of an ordinary soul like me.
Written by Aarushi Verma for MTTN
Edited by Chelsea D’souza for MTTN
Featured image by Google Images