India remembers Mumbai attacks

Residents mark first anniversary of three-day assault that left 166 people dead.

    Prayer ceremonies and vigils were held at a number of sites around India to mark the attacks [AFP]

    Other residents waved Indian flags as the members of a newly formed elite police squad paraded through the city in a show of strength, as part of a new plan to increase security across Mumbai.

    India's security forces were heavily criticised for their failure to prevent the attacks during the days that followed the assaults.

    Many people argued that the police lacked the proper training and equipment to deal with the situation.

    Bloody assault

     

    The bloody events unfolded on November 26 last year, as the fighters arrived in Mumbai undetected by boat before storming a number of locations, including hotels, a popular tourist restaurant and the city's main railway station.

    India has blamed the attacks on a Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar.

    Islamabad has acknowledged the attackers were based in Pakistan and that they left for Mumbai from the southern port city of Karachi, but it has denied any state involvement in the attacks.

    in depth

      Timeline: Mumbai assault
      Video: Mumbai hospitals recount siege
      Feature: Return to Mumbai
      Video: Remembering the Mumbai attacks
      Programme: A different India?
      Pakistan indicts Mumbai suspects
      Mumbai families mourn one year on

    While on a visit to the US, Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, called on the world to "use all its influence to curb the power of terrorist groups" in Pakistan".

    But Pakistan has blamed India for not co-operating in the investigations into the attacks.

    "We condemned this reprehensible act," Abdul Basit, a spokesman for Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs, said.

    "We offered to India joint investigation, [and] also suggested to them to convene and activate the joint anti-terrorism mechanism.

    "But unfortunately, India fell prey to what terrorists perhaps wanted ... that Pakistan and India should not be talking to each other [and] should not be allowed to normalise their relations."

    A day before the anniversary, Pakistan indicted seven suspects in connection with the attacks. All those in the dock pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    The only assailant captured by Indian security forces, Ajmal Amir Kasab, confessed to his role in the killings during his ongoing trial in Mumbai. If found guilty he could be sentenced to death.

    Security tightened

    Authorities have introduced several measures to increase security, including airport-style checks on bags and visitors at luxury hotels, and a visible, armed police presence at key locations.

    Sanjay Nirupam, a Congress Party MP, told Al Jazeera: "In the last year, huge, comprehensive security arragements have been made in Mumbai and the rest of the country.

    The three-day siege exposed deficiencies in Mumbai's security arrangements [AFP]
    "The coastal area, especially, has been properly secured [with] a lot of checkpoints, a lot of manned police stations, and modern equipment.

    "The most important thing is that our Mumbai police was not specialised in tackling terror attacks.

    "For the first time, a new police force, called Force One, has been established in Mumbai's police, to tackle any future terror attacks."

    But Anil Dharker, a prominent columnist in Mumbai, told Al Jazeera that many Indians still do not feel a greater sense of security.

    "If you talk to politicians they will say that [Indian is safer]. The question is, does the public feel safe? They will say no," he said.

    "Where is the visible security? Where is the government transparency about what they have been doing about security? Politicians have shown themselves to be completely insensitive to what is happening."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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