This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 15; the fifteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following
Blog a Ton
LOCATION: MULBARA, INDIA
Mrs. Som was leading a group of students into the “House of Peace”. Having read a lot about it, I was curious to see it for myself. Strategically located within the Mulbara Station premises, a smart rail connects city tourists to “the House”. Ironically named the House of Peace, it actually treasures India’s Violent History.
The House unfolds different sections, as you enter. Clearly titled by the “Location”, you can pick-choose the segments you intend to visit. I started with Kashmir, just as Mrs. Som and her group of students did.
Srinagar, J&K: The walls had newspaper clippings of the Curfew times. Anger and Agitation yelled through them. With CSF on the streets, and civil life disrupted, the valley wore a deserted look. I recall having seen all this on the television, read about them in the newspapers. The UPA was in the ruling; Omar Abdullah could not recreate the magic that his father Dr Farooq Abdullah had done. Chidambaram the then, Home Minister appealed to the people of Kashmir to maintain peace. The facts locked in this House of Peace, were events that had unfolded day after day. Everything looked as if it was a recent past, but years have rolled. To the students of 2050, this is history. Kashmir that was once a tourist destination has also become a commercial and educational hub today. India has come a long way, I smiled at my thought and moved to the next section.
Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh: Communal Clashes at its helm, this was one of the shoddiest incidents in the history of India. Babri Masjid Demolition followed by mass violence across states of India, have left pages and pages of violent history. These pages now showed up on the walls of the” House”. With Amendment 122 not in place, the Constitution then did not provide against wanton falling of religious/ heritage / commercial structures. The absence of the Court of Speedy Recovery caused undue delays in verdict pronouncements. The Ayodhya Issue is one of the biggest lessons that made India re-think on the functioning of the Judicial Systems.
Mrs. Som and her group were heading towards a section titled “The Commercial Capital”. I decided to go with them. Her explanations to the students fascinated me.
Mumbai, Maharashtra .
Year 1993:. Spill over of the Babri Masjid demolition. Air India Building to Bombay Stock Exchange fumed under attack. Mrs Som, asked the students to take note of the fact, on how the strategic and most populated parts of the city were targeted. Suddenly a student from the group, while pointing out to a TOI Clipping, shouted with enthusiasm, “He is Trishala’s Dad”. Mrs Som grinned. Yes indeed, “Sanjay Dutt was the star power associated to the blasts. Sanjay Dutt was now better known as Trishala’s Dad, and why not, she is one of the highly paid actresses in Bollywood today.
Year 2006: Mumbai Train Blasts, again the vastly populated, under target. Today, the RTS or the Rapid Transport System, (as the local trains are called) has metal detectors at different entry points. It was nostalgic to see pictures of crowd hanging at the door, sitting on the top of the erstwhile Mumbai local. RTS does not permit all this; it’s a sophisticated yet economical transport mechanism that Mumbai uses today. Erstwhile locals were vulnerable to attacks; RTS is way ahead and much better equipped.
Year 2008: The Taj Assault: Images moved like a motion picture, though I was just looking at static frames. Mrs. Som took pains to explain the students what it meant to attack the Taj, the elite were target, and this included foreigners. India’s image was under threat. There were murmurs among the young group, the decibel levels were raising. Mrs Som asked for silence but it was curiosity that was making noise and it had to be answered. Students were unable to comprehend how the terrorists could get past the 3 Level -Bar Code security checks, and how they skipped the flying squad measures. It was difficult to explain and even harder for them to comprehend, that India did not have such stringent security measures at that time. These came in much later.
Time was running out, and I had to catch up with my return flight. I quickly glanced though the other sections of the House. A segment on Malegoan Terror with clippings of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakkur. On yet another page, the Parliament attack with Afzal Guru at the centre. Looking back, it shows, from Common Man to the Bureaucrats, none have been sparred. German Bakery was a closer to home experience. Chronologically the House was revealing every ugly fact that India braced though. I wondered why Operation Blue Star and the Kargil War were missing from the House. That’s when I am told, separate amphitheatres are dedicated to these events where documentaries get screened thrice a day.
House of Peace depicts the violent history India has undergone. For Gen 2050, History does not restrict to the Mughal Era or the Indian Independence alone. There is much more it. Real seeds of technological advancement were sown in the more recent past, decades after independence. Each time Indian security was challenged, India was forced to mature. After all, India’s superpower status has not come overnight.
IMAGE CREDIT: Alston Station by Wandering Soul