Heavy police presence across landmarks in the city marked the third anniversary of the 26/11 terror attack. Some citizens offered candles at the Gateway of India to salute the spirit of the city and the courage of the security forces which saved lives, some signed petitions in anger and disappointment over the government's apathetic approach towards the security of the common man.
The flow of foreign tourists was usual, many of them unaware of the devastating attack that shook the city then and still continues to haunt many.
The Governor, the Chief Minister, the Home Minister along with the Ministers of the cabinet and police officials paid tribute to the victims of the terror attack by laying a wreath at the memorial built at Police Gymkhana here. At Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, where Kasab and his accomplice had sprayed bullets killing many unsuspecting passengers three years ago, armed police guarded the luggage scanners and metal detectors at the main entrance.
The metal detectors were being repaired, as many stood dysfunctional. Railway Police personnel were seen standing amid the crowd with body scanners, but hardly anyone was being scanned. “So many people are continuously passing through this place. Who all do we check? Look how fast everyone is moving,” a policeman said.
A place where blood was lost, there was an appeal to donate blood to save the lives of people. The city which is known to run non-stop, did not even seem to pause for a second to respond to the appeal. Most of the donors were college students who came forth to pay tribute.
“In memory of the victims of 26/11 attack and to pay tribute to them, please donate your blood. Please save someone's life,” the announcement went on at the blood donation camp organised by the J J Hospital and the Red Cross organisation. Amid the hustle and bustle, the announcement was among the many which the passers-by seemed to have decided to ignore.
The organisers of the camp described the response as “OK.” “We organise this camp every year. Last year, more than 200 people donated blood. This year, only 80 have donated till now,” Neeta Landge, Public Relations Officer of J J Hospital toldThe Hindu.
The Central Railway has built a small memorial at the station in the memory of the 26/11 victims. A passenger sitting right across it said the attack is a thing of the past now. “I think the place is quite secure now. I feel safe. The security is tight. What can I say about the attack? It is a thing of the past. Why should we keep remembering it?” Pramod Ghuge, who was travelling back to Aurangabad with his family, asked.
But Padmapriya Rampilla had a different perspective. The 37-year-old businesswoman from Visakhapatnam made it a point to visit the Gateway of India to pay tribute to the martyrs and to salute the spirit of the city. “It is some unknown spirit that has brought me here,” she said.
“I had come here three years ago, exactly one month before the attack. When I saw the attack on TV, I felt a sense of shock. This city is the city of dreams, why do they create such a chaos here? I salute all our security personnel who risked their lives to save people. Their courage is unparalleled,” she said.
Pointing to the Taj Hotel behind her she said, “You won't know how happy I feel to see the Taj like this again. It is a symbol of our resilience and strength. I am not from this city, but I had an urge to be here,” she said, as she brought a candle.
Jayan Menon, a 53-year-old businessman who had travelled more than 20 km from Kandivali to the Gateway of India said he was there to commemorate the ghastly attack. Still disturbed by the memory of the attack, he said, it was time the government took some strong action against such attacks.
“The Taj is the symbol of the spirit of Indians. This place has always been targeted and attacked,” he said. Pointing to heavy police security in the area, he said that it was nothing but “a sham.”
“They are sitting with so many weapons, but they don't know what to do with them. I don't think there is any security here. I think the government has been taking the layman for granted. It is time we had a movement like the independence movement. We all need to come together to bring back that spirit,” he said.
Pum Thavipat, a young tourist from Thailand, did not even know about the attack. “I only know this is the landmark of the city. It is very beautiful,” she commented.
Many city-dwellers felt it was time to move on. “We come here quite often. We had seen the attack on TV, but now it is OK. I feel safe. It is time we move on,” Ajay More, a 27-year-old businessman said.
Chabad House, also known as Nariman House, where the terrorists had killed six of its occupants including Rabbi Gavriel and his pregnant wife Rivka, stood silent and dark on the third anniversary of the attack.
The building which bore the brunt of the gunfire, the hand grenade explosions and the siege, and which saw its occupants being picked and killed brutally; stood covered with a green cloth, supported by bamboo, in dire need of renovation. It is the same place which also saw baby Moshe being taken to safety by his Indian nanny. Now that the dispute over the building is over, renovation and construction work is expected to begin soon.