Mumbai remembers 26/11 amid blame game

A man lights candles at special prayers for a rabbi and his wife who were killed in last year's attack at Nariman House, the Jewish centre in Mumbaion Tuesday.  

Amid the ongoing blame game in Mumbai’s police establishment over who failed in the line of duty, the bustling metropolis observes on Thursday the first anniversary of the 26/11 terror attack in solemn remembrance of those who lost their lives.

Former Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor’s interview to a news magazine wherein he said that a section of senior police officers refused to be on the ground and take on the terrorists, touched off a controversy ahead of the anniversary, prompting Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to say, “police are a very disciplined organisation and this (remarks) does not fit into it.”

The report of the government-appointed Ram Pradhan Committee, which went into the lapses leading to one of the most brazen terror strikes in recent memory, is yet to be made public though “relevant portions” were tabled in the Legislature.

There will be a series of events to commemorate the attacks. Mumbai police held a parade, with its new weaponry and communication gadgets, to mark the anniversary.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram will unveil a martyr’s memorial at the Police Gymkhana in south Mumbai, while a prayer meeting is also scheduled at the historical Gateway of India.

Declaring security as the government’s top priority, State Home Minister R.R. Patil said Rs 226 crore have been allocated to the Home department for strengthening it.

Force One, an elite force formed on the lines of the National Security Guards (NSG), became operational with the first batch of 216 commandos of the State’s own specialised counter-terrorism unit inducted on Tuesday.

The commandos have undergone rigorous training and will be provided all infrastructure to enable them be on par with international counter-terrorism units, Mr. Chavan said.

While there was outrage and spontaneous outpouring of grief over the tragic loss of lives in the 26/11 carnage, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mumbai in July and met the staff of Hotel Taj, who risked their lives to save the guests, many of them foreigners.

Ms. Clinton stayed at the Tower Wing of the Hotel to express solidarity with the victims of the terror attack that left 166 people dead, including 22 foreigners of whom five were Americans.

NSG commandos killed eight of the 10 Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists who attacked Mumbai, while police killed another and captured Ajmal Kasab.

NSG lost Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and commando Gajendra Singh Bisht. Unnikrishnan’s parents plan to visit the spot where their son attained martyrdom, on November 27, a day after the anniversary.

The Jewish Chabad House where Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were killed along with others in Colaba’s Nariman House, will reopen on Wednesday. A memorial service for the Holtzbergs and other victims of the attacks will mark the reopening.

Though Mr. Patil said his priority would be to ensure compensation to the victims’ families at the earliest, the government recently admitted before the State Human Rights Commission that more than 70 per cent of the 26/11 victims had not received compensation from the Centre.

Indian Hotels, the company which owns the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, and EIH Ltd, which operates Oberoi-Trident, have so far got Rs 167 crore as insurance claim from General Insurance Corporation on account of the attacks. The part-payment was given from the total claim of Rs 500 crore, a GIC official said.

The terror onslaught had triggered a spontaneous public outcry against the government with a string of protest demonstrations and candle-light vigils.

The outcry forced heads in the government to roll and both Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy Mr. Patil had to quit in quick succession.

However, a year later, Mr. Deshmukh has been appointed a Union minister and Mr. Patil is back as Home Minister.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 3:09:16 PM |

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