India unites in homage to 26/11 victims

Last Updated: Friday, November 27, 2009 - 00:44

Mumbai: Mumbai and cities across the country
paused in homage to the victims of the terror attack here on
its first anniversary on Thursday marked by candlelight vigils,
prayer meetings and reassuring display of security by city
police.

Bearing its sorrow with fortitude, Mumbai remembered its
dead as the country stood united behind it in grief and
resolve to vanquish terror a year after 10 gunmen arrived here
from Pakistan with their weapons blazing to snuff out the
lives of 166 innocent persons during a bloody 60-hour siege.
One guman Ajmal Kasab was captured alive.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal, teeming with ordinary
people, Cama hospital tending to the sick and dying, India`s
icons of hospitality--Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Oberoi and
Trident, or the modest Jewish centre in Nariman House, all
silently remembered the unprecedented attack on the country`s
financial capital as the terrorists scripted a gory tale
in blood with bullets.

Black-clad commandos rappelled down tall buildings, as
prayers and vigils were held across Mumbai and silent tributes
were held in Parliament and before India`s cricket Test match
with Sri Lanka in Kanpur.

In Mumbai, Candle light vigils, multi-faith prayer
meetings, a smart parade by Maharashtra police`s anti-terror
arm `Force One` with an assortment of weaponry to reassure a
shaken city about its safety and solemn promises to keep it
out of harm`s way marked the day-long commemoration.

Life in the city went on at the usual robust pace with
the suburban trains, its lifeline, gobbling up and disgorging
its vast multitudes, and streets and thoroughfares abuzz with
activity. Leopold cafe where the first bullets were fired by
the terrorists bustled with activity.

Children went to school and able-bodied to work, but
all bowed reverently in solemn silence in front of large
posters of the martyrs that dotted the city.

Posters of Mumbai police bravehearts--its ATS chief
Hemant Karkare, Addl Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte,
encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and constable Tukaram
Ombale, who grappled with and pinned down Ajmal Kasab, the
lone Pakistani gunman captured alive, dominated major streets.

Thousands who thronged the Gateway of India for a
memorial congregation led by Chidambaram and Maharashtra Chief
Minister Ashok Chavan, made the pledge to "together protect
Mumbai and Maharashtra".

In southern Mumbai, diplomats and local faith leaders
attended a service at a synagogue, where candles were lit for
the victims of the Nariman House attack.

Patriotism alternated with anger as many in the crowd
shouted "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and "Kasab Ko Phansi Do" in the
same breath.

"What is the point in serving Kasab, who killed our
brothers, Biryani. If the government`s hands are tied, hand
him over to us, we will do justice," one of them demanded.

A smiling portrait of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his
wife Rivka, taken after their marriage greeted the pensive
stream of visitors at Nariman House, the Jewish Chhabad
movement centre that was seized by the terrorists.

Hundreds of Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians lined
up to light candles in the memory of those killed during the
Nariman House siege.

Honour supreme sacrifice: PC

A grim-faced Chidambaram told a gathering after
inaugurating the martyrs` memorial to honour the supreme
sacrifice made by security forces "a year ago, the very idea
of secular, plural, tolerant and democratic India was
attacked."

Praising the security forces, he said, "What does a
policeman want? What do our security forces want? Be it the
army jawan who stands on glaciers or in jungles of Assam, men
who guard naval bases, or men who keep vigil in the skies:
respect.

"I ask people of Mumbai, Maharashtra and India: give
respect to policemen. Give respect to security forces," the
minister said after unveiling a memorial for the 18 security
personnel, including those from police and NSG, killed while
combating the terrorists a year ago.

"A man like Tukaram Ombale (the police officer who helped
capture Ajmal Kasab), he deserves our respect. I ask all of
you, let us respect our security forces," he said.

Stating that he was addressing the gathering on a "solemn
occasion", Chidambaram said he saluted the brave security
personnel who laid down their lives to defend the honour and
integrity of India.

The "police force rose as one force" to defend the
integrity of the country, the minister said.

"This is an occasion for remembrance and thanksgiving
and not to make a speech. The adversary chose the target
carefully which included two iconic buildings," he said.

Commending the Mumbai police for rising as one force
to defend the integrity of India, he said, "I ask all of you to
respect the security forces of India. They keep vigil in
jungles of Assam, on naval bases and our skies."

Parliament remembers killed in terror attacks

In Delhi, Parliament remembered those killed in the
terror attacks and resolved to unitedly defeat the forces of
terrorism which posed the gravest threat to humanity.

Members in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha
stood in silence for a minute in memory of those killed.

"The House salutes the indomitable courage of the
security forces who gave a crushing blow to the terrorists on
November 26, 2008 and the fortitude of the people of Mumbai, "
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said.

In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman Hamid Ansari recalled the
way Mumbai quickly attained normalcy after the terror attack.

Karambir Kang, general manager of Taj whose wife and
two children were killed in the attacks, who is busy
supervising restoration of the hotel, said, "one cannot be
totally healed from such a tragedy, but I am doing my best".

SRK paints; Sachin said he went numb

Shahrukh Khan who turned painter for a moment joined a
unique attempt to remember those who lost their lives on the
eventful day by painting on a wall at Marine Lines.

"It was a very tragic event, but the good thing that
happened was that the tragedy brought the people of Mumbai
together and closer," said actor Aamir Khan.

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar said he went numb
watching the live telecast of terror attacks in the dressing
room in Cuttack during the India-England cricket match. "At
first I thought they were showing a movie...Things like this
happening in India...in our own Mumbai...I went numb for some
time."

Petrol pump dealerships to families

The government has given
operational petrol pumps and domestic LPG dealerships to
dependents of five policemen killed in line of duty in the
terrorist attack in Mumbai last year, Petroleum Minister Murli
Deora said today.

"We had previously given petroleum product dealerships to
dependents of four martyrs of Mumbai terror attack and today
we have given letters to five more," he said.

In keeping with the commitment of the government to take
care of the dependence of the martyrs, public sector oil firms
are providing dealerships commissioned by the them at the
company`s expenses.

"(UPA Chairperson) Sonia Gandhi personally called to tell
me that we must do everything possible to help families of the
martyrs," he said.

Letters of appointment of dealerships of operational
petrol pumps were today given to Vinita Ashok Kamte (wife of
late Ashok Marutrao Kamte) at Pune, Shraddha V Khandekar (wife
of late Vijay Madhukar Khandekar) at Pune and Pratibha J
Patil (wife of late Jaywant Hanumant Patil) at Kikwe, Satara.

Appointment letter was also given to Madhavi P More (wife
of late Prakash Pandurang More) for an LPG Distributorship at
Khargar, Navi Mumbai. Similarly a letter of appointment was
handed over to Vineeta Singh, wife of late Gajendra Singh for
a petrol pump at Haridwar, Uttarakhand.

Under the special initiative for rehabilitation by
providing a recurring source of income to the families of
martyrs of 26/11 terror attack, Deora said his ministry had
decided to allot 18 dealerships of petrol/diesel, LPG and CNG.

Of these, one beneficiary declined the offer while the pumps
and LPG distributorship in case of the remaining six are in
advance stage of commissioning, he said, adding two CNG
outlets would be commissioned by December end.

Deora said the Government of India in general and his
Ministry in particular has been in the forefront for providing
relief and rehabilitation to the family members of the
martyrs.

PTI



First Published: Friday, November 27, 2009 - 00:44

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