GERMAN Bakery is neither German nor is it much of a bakery. It is essentially a restaurant that serves the kind of food hippies like and is so close to the Osho centre that it has a ready-made clientelle of bald, semi-naked men and wild-haired women whon hang around the place drinking what they call masala chai or spiced tea, which is no different from masala chai you get anywhere else. I have never been there and since the bakery is now only a skeleton of twisted steel and torn plastic sheets flapping in the wind, there is no point in going there in the near future.
There is, however, one thing common between the terror attack on German Bakery on February 13, and a similar, but much more violent and deadly attack on Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai on November 26. The common factor is the state’s hapless home minister, a thoroughly incompetent man called RR Patil, under whose watch both the attacks took place. Last time, Patil was promptly sacked, along with his Chief Minister, for making inane remarks for which he is famous, but he came back again after the elections. When Mumbai was attacked-possibly by the same thugs who attacked Pune this time-Patil had said that Mumbai was a big city and therefore prone to such incidents. This time, he has kept mum, after being repeatedly told that every time he opens his mouth, he puts his big foot into it. In fact, apart from the usual statements, everyone, including the voluble Chidambaram, is silent. It is perhaps as well since they have no clue to what is happening on the terror front, just as they have no clue why prices are shooting up, or, for that matter, what the Pakistanis are up to.
One indeed wonders whether there is at all a government in Delhi. That there is no government in Mumbai is taken for granted by the man in the street. For an entire week, the government especially the Chief Minister, was busy guarding the fortunes of a song-and-dance man from Bollywood, for which they had let loose 25,000 policemen, many of them armed, on the hapless cine-going multitude. The Chief Minister had threatened to summon the army if the police were found to be not up to the mark. And all because the theatre owners had refused to show the film in the absence of protection from the police. Mr Chavan-that is the Chief Minister’s name-must have been burning his candle at both ends during the last hectic days-and nights-and just when he probably thought he had the situation under control, bang goes the German Bakery, in the heart of Pune, otherwise a quiet city of sleepy pensioners and even more sleepy professors, who had last seen bombs burst in their midst way back in 1942 during the Quit India movement.
Those bombs, however, were different; they did not kill anybody, not even the Britishers for whom they were meant. This time, the bomb or bombs, killed 13 young men and women, including a brother and sister, for no fault of theirs, except that they were sitting down to a high tea of masala chai and toast.
And what was the Chief Minister doing in Mumbai? He was celebrating, so say the papers, in the company of Bollywood actresses and song-and-dance men, including presumably the man who had been shouting his name from the rooftops, and for whom the Chief Minister had slaved day and night, under orders from Delhi. And that was the time the thugs struck in Pune.
Since India is now a dharamshala and anybody can come and anybody can go, it is scarcely surprising that the thugs from neighbouring countries come and go at will, and are all over the place. They come with several passports, some of them issued in Delhi, and go about chasing the joint or joints, as they did in Mumbai, before they strike. If they are caught, there are the five-star prisons where they are served choicest biryani and tandoori chicken, and, one wonders, what else.
In Mumbai, they came by boat from Karachi hundreds of miles away, without a single Indian boat noticing them, let alone challenging them. They came, as do men on a cruise, right into the main harbour, turned off the engines, and marched into the Taj and the Oberoi, as if they owned them, which probably they do. Nobody noticed them, nobody noticed their guns and AK-47s and other murderous hardware, while the Chief Minister and his deputies were attending Bollywood parties with our song-and-dance men in attendance. For them, the shootings were routine matters, and so were the AK-47s It took them hours to discover that the shootings were real, and so were the corpses that littered the corridors, but by that time it was too late. The whole story repeated itself in Pune, and will go on repeating else where, as long as the Chavans and the Patils remain in Mumbai, and the Chidambarams in Delhi. In the United States, George W Bush sent his armies across the seas, as a self-respecting head of state should have, to Afghanistan and Iraq on what he called the war on terror. There has not been a single terror attack on American soil since then, though Bush is gone and another president has taken over. This is how self-respecting nations react. Their men don’t give press conferences and disappear behind well-guarded doors, at the first sign of trouble. Our governments consist of spineless men, dressed in white mundus and kurta-paijamas, who always hide behind words and words, which is the only weapon they know how to use. Unfortunately for them, terrorists do not use words; they use guns, supplied by their friends in Iran and Syria and Libya, and they use them to maximum advantage, as they did in Mumbai and Pune, drawing blood and scattering corpses as they retreat, as silently as they came, across the border, or often across the seas, to make more bombs, and re-charge their guns, as our chattering home ministers address press conferences and issue statements, and run to Washington, with their tails between their legs, as a dog does to his master, to complain against the thugs.
Do we really need home ministers and prime ministers if this is all they can do? While Mumbai and Pune, not to speak of Delhi and other cities, burn, these modern-day Neros fiddle away, while our enemies notch one more victory and fill the air with gunfire!