An open letter to a terrorist - By Kunal Merchant

Read this wonderful letter in Mumbai Mirror on 4th December, 2008. Couldn't stop myself from posting it. A very very good article to feature in Mumbai Mirror.

The objective of a terrorist is not to kill, injure nor maim, but to instill terror in his victims. Your bullets and bombs killed close to 200 people and injured another 400, but your malice victimised around 1 billion citizens of my

Long after the dust has settled, long after the carnage has been moped away and long after we have returned safely home, the impetus of the terror you have instilled in us will then manifest itself. The grief, anger, mistrust and the fear will all turn into hatred.

Then words will become embittered, fingers will be pointed, views will get extreme, the schism between communities will widen, governments will get polarised and violence will be employed.

But aren’t these the very same reasons that led you to our shores? Is it not hatred that you yourself feel? Is it not terror itself that created you? So, the cancer would have come full circle and thus is the apparatus of your terrorism.

When the riots took place in Mumbai, I was too young to understand. When bomb blasts went off in other cities they were too far off from me to notice.

When trains in Mumbai were blown up, I only blinked twice. The night you attacked the Taj, I was having dinner there. Till that night, I had led my life in apathy, ignorance and cynicism.

Just like your apathy which let you take innocent lives that night, my apathy did not let me value those already taken by terror. Just like the ignorance that made you perverse, my ignorance never let me feel for my fellow citizens.

Just like the cynicism with which you marched into my city and ravaged it, the cynicism of my passivity welcomed you that day with open arms. I had allowed you to perpetuate your disease.

That night, I was trapped with a man who had lost all hope of ever getting out alive. Broken, he sat in a chair, his heart gave in and life left his body.

Your bullets and bombs never even touched him, nor must you have ever seen him, but your terror was what killed him. That was what you intended to do — to strangle hope.

That night, I hoped for my life, I hoped that I could go home and play with my dog, I hoped that I could go back to work and I hoped that I would live to grow old one day.

That night, this man paid the price of life for giving up hope, that night I knew the value of life for holding on to it. Hope – that is the difference between you and I.

Because you had no hope. You have no choice, but to choose the path you did. Because I had hope, I now have a choice to pick the path that I will take.

I can choose to do nothing and return to my apathy, ignorance and cynicism and let your cancer run its course, or I can choose to remove my blinkers and put an end to your terror.

My retribution to you and my resolution to your disease is in these choices I have made today. I choose love over hate, knowledge over ignorance, integration over isolation, compassion over apathy, construction over destruction and understanding over force.

Just as you did not care if you survived as long as you created terror, I too don’t care what becomes of you as long as I supplant this terror.

In my last words to you I want you to know that even if you think you have been successful in victimising my entire country – you have failed because I am alive and I will always hold a kindled flame of hope.

Just like only one of you could victimise an entire country, it will take only one of us to destroy your disease.

But I am not alone. The youth of India, the frontier of the largest democracy in the world is waking up and making the same choices as I have.

If it is terror that has created you – it is our humanity that will give you salvation. The evidence of this has always existed and soon you will see it.

You will be given a fair trial by the same country that you victimised. The taxes of the same people you massacred will afford you a lawyer to fight in your defense.

You will be tried by an impartial and unbiased judge and you will receive justice, though you deserve none.

This is the fuel of my hope, this is the sanctity of my democracy, this is the echelon of my people and this is the beauty of my country.

Yes this is the beauty of our country. and the beauty of our people.


alostdiscoverer said...


Avanti said...

I completely subscribe to Kunal Merchant. Great piece! And inspiring in parts!

Aparna said...

Yes. I was extremely inspired by this article too. Really heartfelt and moving.

Shraddha said...

Echoes what all of us feel..Hope that feelings turn into actions and we can put terror at its death knell...

Shikha Shukla said...

From which source was this blog taken? I am the actual author of this article, so I'd like to know the source of where it was taken from...