Even as members of both Houses of Parliament on Thursday saluted the “indomitable” spirit of Mumbai as the nation remembered the terror strike on the metropolis on its first anniversary, the government came in for sharp criticism for delaying compensation to the victims.
Raising the issue of compensation, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, L.K. Advani, urged the government to set up a special cell in the Union Home Ministry to ensure that compensation is given in all the 403 eligible cases at the earliest. Only 118 of those eligible had got compensation till date. And, in the Rajya Sabha, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Prakash Javadekar said there were complaints of cheques bouncing from some of those who had got compensation.
The matter would have settled there in the Lok Sabha but BJP leader Ananth Kumar’s insistence on a response from the Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee led to an altercation between the Opposition and ruling benches.
Stating that the Leader of the House cannot be responding to every issue raised during zero hour, a livid Mr. Mukherjee said: “I was in my room and came only to listen to the Leader of the Opposition and not you.” With the BJP persisting, Mr. Mukherjee shot back that once again the BJP was trying to draw political mileage from the terror attacks despite being taught a lesson in the first instance. “Again you will be paid back in the same coin,” he warned leading to an intervention from the Speaker.
Invoking the solemnity of the occasion, she said the Minister could not be compelled to respond. “The Leader of the House has heard the Leader of the Opposition and he has taken notes.”
While Mr. Kumar remained agitated, Mr. Advani asked him to stop and the member yielded.
Mumbai Bureau adds
Rousing tribute to martyrs
Mumbai remembered its worst-ever terror strike a year ago in a brisk businesslike fashion. The faces of the brave hearts who were killed on November 26 stared down from posters all over the city as people relived the nightmare. Few will ever forget those traumatic 60 hours when 10 gunmen had laid siege to India’s commercial capital.
Early morning, the Mumbai police paid a rousing tribute to the martyrs of 26/11 by organising a grand parade along the scenic Marine Drive from the Trident hotel – one of the sites of the terror strikes. The anti-terror artillery of the Mumbai police was on full display as officers of the Force One, Quick Response Teams and bomb disposal squads marched alongside a panoply of newly acquired bulletproof vehicles and amphibious vehicles.
Outside the Trident, a large glass casing was built for people to light candles. Joggers, morning-walkers, hotel staff and officers queued up to light candles. The Chabad house too witnessed a moving ceremony. “This event is a tribute to the memory of the precious lives, ” said Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, director of the Chabad Mumbai Relief Fund.