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Mumbai remembers, prays for 26/11 victims


Mumbai : Mumbai paused in its busy tracks Friday to remember the carnage of two years ago and paid homage to the martyrs and victims of the terror attack that left 166 people dead. From signature campaigns demanding the immediate hanging of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist caught alive during the mayhem, to laying wreaths at memorials and holding prayer services, the city solemnly recalled the events that shook the world.

Unlike the daily boisterousness and camaraderie witnessed in the morning peak hour travel, the mood was solemn and quite subdued as millions of commuters took local trains and buses to go to south Mumbai.

A regular office-goer, Avanti Rahate said commuters silently remembered the victims of the carnage and commented how soon the time had passed.

Brief prayer services were held at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Hotel Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Hotel Trident-Oberoi – three of the main places attacked by the 10 terrorists who laid siege to the metropolis for three days, killing 166 people and injuring over 300.

A social organisation, Nijaat, carried out a signature campaign for four hours at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus demanding immediate hanging of Kasab for killing innocents and wreaking huge destruction on the city.

Over 250,000 commuters wholeheartedly participated in the drive, the organisation’s co-convenor Hyder Azam said. “Now, we will keep the campaign open for two more weeks, collect 25 crore signatures from all over India and hand it over to President Pratibha Patil,” he added.

Hundreds of citizens and celebrities took part in ‘Ek Kadam’ – march for solidarity between Hotel Trident-Oberoi to Hotel Taj Mahal in the afternoon which Mumbai Congress leader Charan Singh Sapra organised to remember the terror victims.

Commoners and celebrities, including actors Ajay Devgan, Raveena Tandon and Mahima Chaudhary, and office-goers joined the nearly two km long march from Nariman Point and Colaba areas, Sapra said.

In the morning, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Home Minister R.R. Patil, other ministers, top police and civil officials laid wreaths at the martyrs’ memorial at the Police Gymkhana near the city police headquarters in south Mumbai.

Mumbai Police along with the elite Force One and Quick Response Team took out a parade at the Marine Drive seafront, showcasing their full power and might and vowing to fight terror.

Later in the day, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram paid homage, along with Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and Chavan, at a function at the Magathane CNG station in Borivli East, north-west Mumbai.

Chidambaram also allotted a CNG station to the family of Tukaram Ombale, one of the 17 martyrs of the terror attacks who sacrificed his life to catch Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab alive.

Several commemorative functions and campaigns were held in different parts of the city to mark the day when Mumbai suffered its worst terror attack till date.

Thursday, a special 26/11 eve memorial service was held at the Chabad House in Colaba, which was also one of the sites targeted by the 10-member Pakistani group of terrorists.

The prayer service was conducted by Jewish Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg and his wife Frieda, who arrived in the city this week.

The Holtzbergs lost their children, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, while their grandson Baby Moshe, who was two then, and his Indian nanny Sandra managed to escape alive by hoodwinking the terrorists who created mayhem in Chabad House.

Celebrities like Kiran Bedi and a large number of commoners took part in a THursday midnight candle-light vigil in the lane near Cama Hospital, near the CST, where three top police officials were gunned down during the terror attacks.