Mumbai attack victims remembered

Memorials and candlelight march mark second anniversary of deadly attacks that killed 166 people on November 26.

The attackers targetted two luxury hotels in Mumbai, the city’s main railway station, a cafe and a Jewish centre [AFP]

India has marked the second anniversary of the deadly attacks on Mumbai with memorials, candlelight vigils and prayer meetings.

Police were on high alert on Friday as security forces held a parade through the country’s commercial city, while mourners gathered at the hotels, railway station, cafe and Jewish centre where the attacks occurredin November 2008.

Candlelight vigils were held overnight and a multi-faith meeting is scheduled to be held at the Gateway of India monument on Friday evening.

“We will never succumb to the designs of our enemies. We pledge to redouble our efforts to bring the perpetrators of this crime against humanity to justice”

Manmohan Singh, Indian prime minister

Both houses of the Indian parliament held a minute’s silence to honour the victims of 60 hours of violence that saw 10 gunmen attack a host of targets.

The attackers arrived by sea from Pakistan on the evening of November 26 after hijacking a fishing boat, according to Indian and US intelligence. Authorities regained full control of the city only three days later.

The deadly rampage, which India has blamed on elements inside Pakistan, claimed 166 lives. About 300 people were injured in the incident.

Live television footage during the Mumbai siege was shown around the world as Indian commandos battled with the attackers and terrified civilians tried to escape the bloodbath.

Indian authorities, wary of further attacks by Pakistan-based groups, increased security for the anniversary.

“With [the] terror threat lingering over the city in the view of the second anniversary of 26/11, we have made elaborate security arrangements and Mumbai has been put on alert,” Rajkumar Vhatkar, a senior city policeman, said.

Call for justice

Both India and the United States blame the attacks on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“We will never succumb to the desigfns of our enemies,” Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, said in a statement on Friday.

“We pledge to redouble our efforts to bring the perpetrators of this crime against humanity to justice.”

Speaking in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, SM Krishna, the Indian foreign minister, repeated the call urging Pakistan to tackle terror groups on its territory and bring the suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba masterminds to justice.

“Once again I call upon Pakistan to dismantle the terror machine operating with impunity in territories under its control and to bring all the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to speedy justice,” he said.

On Thursday India sent an official diplomatic message to Pakistan’s embassy in the capital, New Delhi, urging it to “fulfill its obligation and commitment” to bring the plotters to justice.

The letter accused Islamabad of stalling over the trial in Pakistan of seven suspects accused of plotting the attacks, adding that “New Delhi expresses regret for not receiving feedback on issues raised by it”.

Legal battle

Nine of the 10 gunmen were killed in clashes with security forces and the sole survivor, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, was sentenced to death by a Mumbai court in May. He is challenging the sentence.

Candlelight vigils and multi-faith prayer meetings were part of tributes paid to victims of the attacks [EPA]

India has accused Pakistan of not doing enough to bring the plotters behind the attacks to justice, and the incident continues to dog relations between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Seven suspects in Pakistan – including the alleged mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Zarar Shah – have been put on trial in the country, but none has been convicted.

The prosecution has since stalled, with Pakistani officials demanding that Kasab be allowed to testify, which New Delhi has refused. Pakistan also wants to send a fact-finding commission to India to gather more evidence.

India sees these moves as stalling tactics and says it has handed over enough evidence in a series of dossiers to secure the convictions of the accused men. Pakistan says the evidence is inadmissible in court.

US solidarity

Earlier this month Barack Obama, the US president, visited the city, and met the families of the victims and survivors. He paid his respects at a memorial in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, which was one of the attackers’ prime targets.

Obama and his delegation also made a point of staying overnight at the hotel, the scene of a three-day siege, in what was seen as a gesture of solidarity.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, in a statement late on Wednesday reiterated the US’ solidarity with India.

“As the people of the United States gather with family to celebrate Thanksgiving, we pause to remember the horrific attack on innocent men, women and children that occurred in Mumbai two years ago.”

Source: News Agencies


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