Finally, it’s the signs of humanity that come after the event that restores normalcy. Sikh taxi drivers offered free rides, and empathy flowed on social media. “Sikh Temples in Manchester, UK offering food & accommodation. They are open for ALL people. #PrayForManchester #ManchesterArena #England,” tweeted Harjinder S Kukreja. Note the emphasis on ALL.
That’s at least a modicum of normalcy, as we once knew it. For, unless we become totally inured and habituated to the casualness of modern violence, what can be called normal about wishing to visit death upon innocent youngsters who wanted to be at a music concert?
It was uncanny that, just hours earlier, the Indian High Commissioner in Britain had held an open pledge-taking function on ‘Anti-Terrorism Day’ in London. But singer-actress Ariana Grande, a pop star with a dizzying vocal range, had just ended her show when a 22-year-old man of Libyan descent began his.
It was over in a flash, of course—besides whichever perverse heaven awaited the suicide bomber, 22 young lives were extinguished forever. It was the biggest terror strike in the UK since 2005, and it comes at a time when the country has been in the throes of a highly polarised debate about immigration. The familiar drill has kicked in—security is on the highest possible level of critical alert, with key installations being guarded by the army.
More importantly, campaigning for elections been suspended. It was just a month ago that Theresa May had decided to seek wider endorsement through snap polls—to give herself more leeway as she headed into Brexit negotiations—and voting was just a fortnight away.
The other drill too: The Islamic State has taken credit; police are yet to conclude if it was an indoctrinated loner or a network was involved. At any rate, the young man grew up in Manchester. If such hatred can be produced, at some point nations need to take a look at their policies of war and commercial dominance, and at the complex rubric of social life.