Sunday, June 23, 2024

Mumbai pays homage to 26/11 victims


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Mumbai: Mumbai paused in its busy tracks on Monday to remember the 166 people who fell to the indiscriminate bullets of 10 Pakistani terrorists during a 60-hour siege, India’s most wounding terrorist attack, that began this day four years ago.

Brief commemoration events were held at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, Oberoi Trident, Leopold Cafe and Nariman House, some of Mumbai’s most loved landmarks that were targeted by the 10 terrorists who sneaked into Mumbai on the night of Nov 26, 2008 through the Arabian Sea route and landed at Colaba.

The main function to remember the martyrs and victims of the terror strike, which began on Nov 26, 2008, and continued till the afternoon of Nov 29, was held at the Mumbai Police Gymkhana at Chowpatty where a permanent 26/11 memorial has been erected.

Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde laid wreaths and offered their homage at the memorial.

With them were Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil, Minister of State for Home Satej Patil, Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh and other dignitaries who also offered floral tributes.

The family members and relatives of the martyred policemen and other victims of the terror attacks as well as survivors were also present on the occasion. Five days ago, on Nov 21, Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole surviving Pakistani terrorist caught alive, was hanged in a Pune jail.

18 policemen including Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare had made the supreme sacrifice, gallantly fighting Kasab and his band of nine other LeT terrorists, indoctrinated and trained in Pakistan.

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.

The terrorists had launched war on India for 60 hours, killing 166 and injuring around 300 people even as combined security forces battled them and managed to gun down nine.

As in the past, it was business as usual at the two high-profile commercial targets — the Taj and the Trident.

In fact, the iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel, just across the road from Gateway of India, had bounced back to normalcy within a few weeks after the terror attacks four years, an official from the hotel, who declined to be identified, said. Shortly thereafter, even Trident had become operational.

Over the past four years, in an act of solidarity and thumbing their nose at terror, both hotels, barely a couple of kilometres apart, have seen top national and international VVIPs either visiting or staying there during their trips to Mumbai.

These included US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other international personalities .

Over the past four years, both hotels have remained the top favourite venue for various national and international conferences, business summits and lavish weddings, though security measures have been considerably tightened.

Though Kasab’s hanging at Yerawada prison in Pune came as a welcome relief for the average Mumbaikar, who felt justice had been finally done, there was a sense of unmitigated loss among the family members of the martyred policemen.

“My husband or Divya’s father will not come back with the hanging of Kasab,” said Kavita Karkare, wife of Hemant Karkare.

She felt the city continued to be unsafe, four years after the brazen attacks that left 166 dead and many more wounded and maimed for life.

“I think the battle (against terror) has just begun. I feel Mumbai is still unsafe. There have been bomb blasts in Mumbai and Pune even after 26/11,” she said. (Agencies)


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