Martin Place, The Day After

Siege 002By Ashok Kumar

Tens of Thousands of shocked Australians gathered at Martin Place, the spot where the hostage crisis had taken place a day before and laid floral wreaths as a tribute  to the departed souls. Some women could be seen wiping their tears while some were distributing facial tissues. Posse of media personnel had been looking  for willing people ready to speak to them.

As Prime Minister Mr. Tony Abbot in a statement yesterday appealed to Australians not to get perturbed by the incident and get back to their business as  usual, all Australians were seen literally back to their offices or businesses but the poignant and sombre mood prevailed.  As  Police Commissioner Andrew  Scipione and NSW Premier Mike Baird have stated this incident should not change our lives, this is a time to come together, not be divided. True to this spirit, people from all cultural backgrounds came together at Martin Place to lay floral wreaths

Martin Place is the prominent location for celebrations every year during Christmas and now Diwali due to being in the centre of the Sydney. A couple of months ago the Diwali celebration had taken place and now a huge Christmas tree had been erected for the celebrations. As a mark of respect for the killed hostages, a Christmas choir was performing alongside the site where people formed long queues to lay floral wreaths.

Everyone who were spoken to expressed just one concern why such criminals are allowed to roam freely in the society

This correspondent spoke to a cross section of Indian Australians who expressed anguish and concern at the Lindt Cafe incident.

Dr. Yadu Singh, a Sydney Cardiologist: on being asked,” How as Sydneysider/ Australian you felt about the incident as it has never happened in Australia.

“I was very concerned, upset and scared about terrorism reaching our shores. Until now, some terrorists’ modules were operating, but they were arrested before they could act on their plans. This has now changed because this terrorist, Man Haron Monis, has perpetrated a terrorist attack right in the centre of Sydney’s business district. I agree with what Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that there are some people amongst us in Australia, who wish, and have plans, to harm us. It is a sad reality unfortunately. I am unable to understand why people migrate to Australia, or live in Australia, if Australia and Australian values are not acceptable to them.

2. “Was the situation handled professionally, according to you?

YS:  Yes, the situation was handled professionally. Police authorities did frequent media briefings and managed the flow of information appropriately. They did not divulge sensitive information which could have had an impact on Operational matters in relation to this hostage crisis. They were able to work with the media, persuading them to work with them in regards to the appropriate flow of information out to the public. Channel 7 was persuaded to not show live pictures of the site of the hostage crisis. I commend their actions, particularly when they entered the Lindt Cocolat Café, 6 seconds after they heard the first Gun shot inside the cafe. Who shot whom and how will come out after a thorough enquiry, but, from what I know, they did a professional job as a great police force. This is in clear contrast from what happened during Mumbai terrorist attacks, where some Indian media were irresponsible and in fact, harmful.

“How as Indian Australian you felt when you learnt there is an Indian among the hostage?

YS: I am an Australian, albeit with Indian heritage, but I felt, thought and behaved like an Australian. To me, people inside the Café were all Australians, who were kept as hostages while they were doing what we do every day ie working and having a cup of coffee. There was no justification for what they were forced to go through. A person of Indian heritage inside the Café did not matter too much to me, and I did not give any special importance to this fact. I felt that everyone inside the Café was one of us ie Australian, and my heart went out equally to each of them. I and my family had tears for all of them. Incidentally, it could have been I or anyone else from my own family in their place because I and my family were in the area that morning for shopping, and my son works in the area. Terrorism affects all of us and it certainly affects the whole world.

Ana Tewary a broadcaster and Producer with ABC: Sad day… innocent people killed at the hands of a coward criminal… there are violent psychopaths/sociopaths in every religion, race, nationality… some hide behind religion, some behind ideology, politics, power, money… some use flags & guns others use entire armies to bully and control… the important thing is to be able to identify violent psychopaths and not give them any power. On a day like this, here is a reminder that thankfully there is more good than evil in our world.

Harmohan Singh Walia, former Labor federal candidate from Mitchel: The Sydney siege incident at Martin Place is very disturbing. Such acts are inhuman and deeply unfortunate. Our heart goes out for those hostages who have been killed and pray for speedy recovery of injured hostages and a policeman.

It seems from tv news that the police, law makers and law carers were aware of the fanatic activities of Man Haron Monis, even then, he was living freely in the society. Such persons with fanatic mind and with political motivation for violence should be dealt with stern laws and should not be allowed to live freely in the society as they are dangerous for the society.

Sheba Nandkeolyar, Director at Multiconnexions: Very tragic ending despite trying for a peaceful outcome. A well known bad guy in Australia also known as fake cleric who came to Australia as a refugee from Iran in 1996 finally dead along with another hostage. We believe he killed a hostage after which police had to move in. Some hurt and in the hospital and the rest escaped unharmed.

Illridewithyou: A young Sydney woman, Rachael Jacobs, appears to have inspired the campaign after posting a moving Face book status about her encounter with a Muslim woman earlier in the day.

“…and the (presumably) Muslim woman sitting next to me on the train silently removes  her hijab,” Ms Jacobs said.

“I ran after her at the train station. I said ‘put it back on. I’ll walk with u’. She began to cry and hugged me for about a minute – then walked off alone.

At Martin Place, a lot of Muslim women were seen laying floral wreaths. When asked about if they had any problem in travelling to Martin Place in chorus they said no not at all we are safe. Prominently place was a placard next to these ladies aptly stating “Please remember forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Be strong.”

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About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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