Mumbai was caught off guard on July 11, 2006, exactly 12 years ago as we diarize this event in its raw form. The financial capital of India witnessed a series of bomb blasts that took place in a short span of 11 minutes on the suburban railway stations killing 209 people while injuring 700.
The suburban railway operates over 2000 train services in a single day having over 7.5 million passengers using their service to commute, which is the size of an entire country like Switzerland or Bhutan. Mumbaikars call this public mode of transport their ‘lifeline’. With a remarkable frequency and the hefty population going to and fro, the security received a setback on this D day. The bombs were set off in pressure cookers that were kept in the first class compartments of trains at Khar Road – Santacruz, Bandra – Khar Road, Jogeshwari, Mahim Junction, Mira Road – Bhayandar, Matunga Road – Mahim Junction, and Borivali. The attacks occurred between 18:24 and 18:35 IST.
By now the maximum city had sustained six terror attacks ranging from 1993 to 2003, adding the fresh scar of 2006 to its existence.
1993: The first ever documented bombings in Mumbai which was Bombay back then were a series of 12 bomb explosions carried out on March 12 that resulted in 257 fatalities and 713 injuries.
2002: On December 2, a bomb placed under a seat of a B.E.S.T. bus exploded near the busy Ghatkopar station. The bomb was placed in the rear of a bus near the station and killed two people and injured over 50.
2003: On March 13, a bomb exploded as a train pulled into the Mulund railway station. The bomb was placed in the first class ladies’ compartment and killed 10 people with 70 injured.
On July 28, a bomb placed under a seat of a B.E.S.T. bus exploded on the busy Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg in Ghatkopar. The bomb was placed in the rear of the bus, killing four people and injuring 32.
The same year on August 25, Mumbai witnessed twin car bombings, one at the Gateway of India and the other at Zaveri Bazaar. Both the bombs were planted in parked taxis and exploded during the lunch hour. The bombings killed 54, and injured 244 people.
Nearly a decade of time to revamp any security measures needed to prevent such occurrences. Yet, the city was victim to the masterminds who tried to cripple the spirit of Mumbai.
But it didn’t stop there. Mumbai had not recovered from being under attack in 2006 and terror hit again in 2008 and 2011.
2008: Often referred as 26/11, a group of terrorist attacks that took place in November. 10 members of a terrorist organisation had carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai. By November 29, 164 people died and 308 were wounded.
2011: A series of three coordinated bomb explosions at different locations in Mumbai took place on July 13. The blasts occurred at the Opera House, Zaveri Bazaar and at Dadar West localities killing 26 and injuring 130 people.
Fast forward to the current scenario where the railways are still finding it difficult to function when the city is hit by massive rainfall. The water logging leading to cancellation of trains has become quite the common thing to be acknowledged. Although the city has not been new such instances, it could serve as the right time to think once again if we’re prepared with the security that we’ve been ordained with in order to deal with such mishaps to be prevented on an amplified scale.
If we take our own cognitive interviews and try to recollect the safety measures we have laid in front of us travelling by the suburban railways, this is what we fill find.
How many stations have been gifted the royalty to be decorated with any kind of detectors in place and working if one might underline. We can seek the answers by mere observation.
The modern day locomotives have been sanctioned with the use of CCTV cameras inside the compartments which may or may not be monitored for any suspicious activity. Despite the technological part, we do hear a charming announcement to keep us alert for questionable objects inside the train.
Over the past couple of years, there have been a bunch of bomb threats, made directly to the authorities and what reports suggest are simply the ninja pace presence of an entire squad and police dogs doing rounds of the platforms of only renowned stations. An example would be of 2017 on July 13, when the control room at Churchgate station received an unidentified call, warning a bomb blast at the station, which was eventually ruled out as a hoax.
The security measures have been intensified for women, given the circumstances of harassment and obscene gestures that have surfaced on a larger scale over the years. But does that leave the general security in question?
Maybe it’s time we refrain from basking into the glory of progress and work towards maintaining what we have. Upgrading can be delayed, safeguarding needs to be sustained.