In 1993, I was in Class Seven in Delhi and the Bombay Bomb Blasts seemed half an universe away. There was no satellite TV, let alone 50 channels of live streaming information(?) piped into my house through an overtaxed coaxial cable. Stories that my school friends told me about Bombay made the city sound like one where shootouts happened all the time. And anyway we were still living in a glorious socialist dream imposed on us by the Congress, so any news of the matter came only in little bits and pieces.
After I joined this organisation I was talking to my Editor about life in Bombay and he narrated the incidents of March 12, 1993 a bit more. The ed was then based at Nariman Point (close to my current office) and he told me that when a nice large hole was put on the side of Air India building, no-body really had any clue what was going on. Another colleague told me that they felt that some building had collapsed, but later on when everybody realised what was going on there was a sense of chaos.
However, some people neglect another side-effect of the blasts. Until the blasts occured, the underworld, the political world and the filmi-world operated as a cosy coterie. The crackdown on the underworld actually began after the blasts. Sure, people like Salem got away extorting money from people for years on end and even getting his not-so-pretty mistress (later wife) Monica Bedi into the movies. There was the occasional murder here or there in the process.
Moving on to November 2005, Abu Salem should have been more scared of the media jamboree that seems to follow him rather then getting beaten up in a jail. But, I really wonder how much Abu Salem will sing, or will Abu Salem get bumped off?
While I think Abu Salem must be brought to justice, I really wonder if some politicians (all from the ruling party - how terribly unsurprising), former cricketers and movie-stars with a lot to lose don't somehow manage to get Abu Salem somehow bumped-off in jail. And while I think it might be strange to advocate giving a person like Salem Z-category security, Salem must talk, and he must expose those who supported him. And this number should include those in the media, because there are a lot of people, especially people who have been in this profession for some time now (like an old pan-chewing colleague of mine in the Birla paper) who have talked of their underworld contacts with pride and in certain cases even hidden criminals in their homes.
Kudos to the CBI for getting Salem back to India. Just like the Bombay Blasts provided the impetus for getting the underworld off Bombay streets, the capture of its mastermind should provide the impetus for getting the underworld out of our everyday lives.