Mumbai remembers 26/11 victims on attack's 4th anniversary
Mumbai paused in its busy tracks 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 commemorative events were held at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, the Oberoi Trident, Leopold Cafe and the Nariman House, some of Mumbai's most loved landmarks that were targeted by the 10 terrorists who sneaked into the megacity 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, Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh and other dignitaries who too offered floral tributes.
The family members and relatives of the martyred policemen and security personnel as also of other victims of the terror attacks, and some of the survivors were also present on the occasion.
Five days ago, on Nov 21, Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole Pakistani terrorist caught alive during the mayhem, was hanged in a Pune jail, offering a new solace to Mumbaikars as they observed the fourth anniversary Monday.
The terrorists had launched war on India's financial capital for 60 hours, killing 166 and injuring around 300 people even as combined security forces battled them and managed to gun down nine. One, Kasab, was caught alive.
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 and Tower hotel, just across the road from the Gateway of India, had bounced back to normalcy within a few weeks after the terror attacks four years ago, said an official from the hotel who declined to be identified. Shortly thereafter, even the Trident had become operational.
Over the past four years, in an act of solidarity and thumbing their noses 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 many 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.
Security measures in the city have been considerably beefed up four years since 26/11 and top officials claim Mumbai is "a lot safer and secure".
"There are now CCTVs installed at all major public places, road junctions, important buildings, many railway stations, bus depots and other vital installations. At times, some may not work due to technical snags, but it is handled at the highest levels and rectified as soon as possible," a top state home department official, requesting not to be identified, told IANS.
However, the official categorically refused to disclose the total number of electronic eyes watching over the city and cited "security reasons" for that.
Justifying the contention, the official said since 26/11 only one terror incident has taken place in the city - the July 13, 2011, triple serial blasts in south-central Mumbai which left 21 dead.
Elsewhere in the state too, there was only - the Feb 13, 2010 - Pune German Bakery blast with 17 casualties.