Jewish community marks fourth anniversary of 26/11 terror horror with prayers
Mumbai's Jewish community offered prayers at Chabad House on Monday, as they remembered Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who were killed in the 2008 militant attacks by Pakistan-based militants.
The day saw Mumbai solemnly observing the fourth anniversary of the deadly attacks in which Pakistan based militant-squad rampaged through luxury five star hotels, the city's main railway station, a popular cafe and the Jewish centre, killing 166 people.
Pakistan national Mohammad Ajmal Kasab was the enduring image of the bloody assault, which traumatised India and raised fears of copycat attacks on foreign cities. Pictures of the boyish gunman wearing a black T-shirt and toting an AK-47 rifle as he strode through Mumbai's train station were published around the world.
Israel's Consul General in Mumbai, Orna Sagiv, was also present at the prayer ceremony on Monday. She recounted the horrors of the attacks that took place four years ago, when she was in the city.
"I was here four years ago when 26/11 happened. I can still remember the phone call from the Rabbi in the middle of the function that we held in our home. I still remember the shock, coming from Israel, which is a country that suffers from terrorism, as we couldn't understand at the beginning the magnitude of what was happening in Mumbai in those few days," Sagiv said.
Kasab, was executed on the morning of November 21 amid great secrecy, underscoring the political sensitivity of the massacre, which still casts a pall over relations between nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India.
The cleric officiating at the service, Rabbi Chaim, said that the community would continue its work undeterred and rebuilt the damaged Chabad House.
"To know that someone on a mission like mine was murdered here in this building, and I am sure that their message to us would be not to stop, not to give in to the terror. If they would be here today, they would tell us to keep on the good work and rebuild this building as we are doing now," Chaim said.
The three-day siege in November 2008 claimed 166 lives, including Holtzberg, his wife Rivka and four others at the Chabad House near the luxury hotels.
The sight of commandos being lowered into the Chabad House from a helicopter was also one of the enduring images of the rescue operation, part of a fightback by security forces that eventually led to nine militants being killed.