Monday, June 17, 2024

Mumbai mourns 26/11 victims


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India asks Pakistan to punish guilty

Mumbai: Mumbai on Saturday paid solemn tributes to the victims and martyrs of the 26/11 terror attack on its third anniversary as India lamented lack of “decisive” action by Pakistan against the plotters despite evidence provided by it to prosecute them.

There was no uncontrolled outburst of emotions, no photographs of martyred policemen peering down from massive hoardings in bustling streets and no smart parade by the anti-terror force as a sense of deja vu marked the remembrance events.

Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, his cabinet colleagues and top government functionaries paid homage to the men in uniform who gallantly laid down their lives in the line of duty and others felled by the 10 Pakistani terrorists. Wreaths were placed at the Police Memorial and a minute’s silence observed in the memory of the 18 security personnel, including ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who made the supreme sacrifice during the three-day siege.

Karkare’s widow Kavita, Vaishali Omble, daughter of Tukaram Omble, the policemen who resolutely took the bullets in his chest but did not allow terrorist Ajmal Kasab to escape, and Smita Salaskar, widow of Vijay Salaskar, encounter specialist who was killed with Hemant Karkare, were present.

As Mumbaikars engaged in solemn remembrance, India voiced its displeasure with Pakistan over the delay in bringing the plotters of the attack to justice. “We are still waiting for Pakistan to act decisively to bring to justice the perpetrators of the mindless violence that was unleashed on Mumbai. We are still waiting,” External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told reporters in Delhi.

Krishna also said that the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy had no place in today’s world and is self-destructive.

He deplored that despite the evidence given by the Home Ministry to Pakistan which he said was sufficient for “any normal court” to prosecute the accused, no decisive action had been taken.

“I think the evidence provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs would be sufficient for any normal civilian court to prosecute the people involved in the conspiracy and the perpetrators of this crime,” Krishna said.

“I once again call on our neighbour to bring the perpetrators of the crime to speedy justice,” he said.

As Mumbai got immersed in silent prayers, Ajmal Kasab, the only living terrorist of 26/11 attack, sentenced to death for the massacre, had no sense of the day, having lost the track of time with no access to newspapers and hardly any conversation with the securitymen guarding him.

“His day began like any other day. He had a breakfast of banana, milk and Poha (puffed rice flakes with potatoes) on Saturday morning and lunch in the afternoon.

Going by his mental status, we do not think we should talk to him or inform him about the third anniversary (of the attack),” an official at the Arthur Road jail told PTI.

“Our priority is to protect Kasab in the jail. Going by the serious nature of their job, why should any security personnel closely guarding him strike a conversation with him on the attacks or anniversary?” he asked.

Kasab was handed death penalty by a special anti-terror court on May 6 last year which was later upheld by the Bombay High Court. His appeal against death sentence is pending with the Supreme Court.

Though there was no official commemoration at iconic Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, which was ravaged during the attack, India cricket skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar placed bouquets at a memorial in the hotel.

“It is business as usual,” a spokesperson for the Taj told PTI. Candles were lit in the memory of the victims at Oberoi and Trident hotels on the Marine Drive.

Thirty-five people were killed during the attack at the two hotels.

At the bustling Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, where 52 innocent people were killed, a blood donation camp was organised. Mega-star Amitabh Bachchan is scheduled to release an album of patriotic songs in the evening in the memory of those who lost their lives during the senseless orgy of violence three years ago. (PTI)


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