Mumbai paid homage yesterday to the victims of the 2008 terror attack in which 166 people were killed and 300 injured in a blood bath that lasted 60 hours.
The main commemorative function was held at the Police Gykmhana at Marine Drive, where Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayan laid a wreath at the memorial erected for the victims of the terror attack.
Present at the occasion were Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, state Home Minister R. R. Patil and others.
The memorial carries the names of the 18 policemen who were killed, including top officials Hemant Karkare, the head of Anti-Terrorism Squad, and additional commissioner of police Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar. The family members and relatives of the policemen and other victims as well as survivors were also present at the solemn function.
This year, there was some sort of relief since the lone terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, who was captured alive and convicted following a lengthy trial, was hanged in Pune’s Yerawada Jail on November 21. The state government has time and again made tall claims that the city was now far more prepared to deal with such attacks. However, the state is yet to implement its big plan to install 6,000 CCTV cameras around Mumbai even as the coastal security of patrol boats and amphibian vehicles is in a pathetic state.
Most Mumbaikars still think the city is unsafe not only because of terrorists but also anti-social elements. According to Kavita Karkare, wife of Hemant Karkare, “I think the battle has just begun. I feel Mumbai is still unsafe. There have been bomb blasts in Mumbai and Pune even after 26/11.”
Among those paying homage to the victims of 26/11 was a US national Kia Scherr who lost her husband Alan and her 13-year-old daughter Naomi in the terror attack on the Trident Hotel. Her response to the attack two years back was to co-found a non-profit organization called One Life Alliance which she says is “to counter-balance terrorism with a message to honour the life we all share by living with love and compassion.”
She has returned to Mumbai once again to pay tribute to the victims and at a global peace initiative at the Gateway of India on Sunday, she said, “I lost my family when I was in Mumbai city during the 26/11 attacks. But after four years, I now say that Mumbai is my family. There are really no words to express my gratitude to each and everyone of you.”