Mumbai: The mood at the wreath laying ceremony for 26/11 martyrs was sombre as policemen remembered their fallen comrades and family members of victims sought in vain to set aside their tears, 10 years after the worst-ever terror attack in India’s history. At an early morning solemn ceremony at Mumbai’s 26/11 martyrs’ memorial at Police Gymkhana on the Arabian Sea coast, Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis laid wreaths as a police band paid their musical tribute at the ‘Salutation Ceremony’.
Tributes were also paid at the memorial of assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Ombale at Girgaum Chowpatty, a short distance away. It was at this spot that Ombale caught Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab alive while getting killed himself. On November 26, 2008 Mumbai was attacked by 10 terrorists of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. In the mayhem that followed for the next three days 166 people including 18 police officers and two NSG commandos were killed while 308 people were injured.
The then Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Additional Police Commissioner Ashok Kamte and Senior Police Inspector Vijay Salaskar were among those killed in the attack. Salaskar’s daughter Divya said nothing could make up for the loss of her brave-heart father. “Ten years on, the pain is very much the same. When you lose a loved one like a father or a husband, there is nothing to compensate for that kind of loss,” she said.
Maharashtra Police Chief Datta Padsalgikar and Mumbai Commissioner of Police Subodh Kumar Jaiswal also attended the ceremony along with family members of policemen who lost their lives during the attacks, which began on November 26 and lasted till November 29. “I pay homage to the brave policemen who fought for Mumbai’s safety and laid down their lives for us on 26/11. We are proud of them and we will strive hard for the safety and security of our state,” Fadnavis said.
“I offer my heartfelt tribute to the ones who put Mumbai first, till the very end,” Jaiswal said. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Hotel, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital and the Nariman House Jewish community centre, now renamed Nariman Light House, were among the places targeted by the terrorists.
Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist who was captured alive. He was hanged four years later on November 21, 2012. “Remembering those who put the nation before themselves. And our salute to the city whose resilience always made its people stronger,” Mumbai Police tweeted. Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, said the Ram Pradhan committee, set up to probe the shortcomings that led to the attack recommended setting up of a protocol under an internal security committee but it is yet to be prepared.
“The internal security committee has never met in the past four years since the BJP-led government came to power in the state,” he said. “Coastal police stations were announced by the state government, but nothing has been done about them,” he said, adding coastal policing should be top priority. Former Mumbai police commissioner M N Singh said Pakistan is a “permanent enemy” of India and as long as Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were calling the shots in the neighbouring country, the relationship between the two countries won’t normalise.
Railway officials laid wreaths at the 26/11 memorial at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, where 52 people were killed during the terror attack. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: Tributes to those who lost their lives in the gruesome 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. Our solidarity with the bereaved families. A grateful nation bows to our brave police and security forces who valiantly fought the terrorists during the Mumbai attacks.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: My tributes to the victims and brave martyrs of dastardly 26/11 Mumbai terror attack on its 10th Anniversary. We will continue to seek justice for their families and friends. India will defeat terrorism. Union minister Kiren Rijiju said he was unable to attend the Mumbai 26/11 memorial event due to pre-occupation. “My tribute to the martyrs and civilians who lost their lives in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack,” he tweeted.
“Life sirf lambi nahi, badi bhi honi chahiye. This stands true for all the brave people who protected and served during the #MumbaiTerrorAttack. They proved that no matter what may come, we shall stand united and tall against terror. #2611MumbaiAttacks #NeverForget,” cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar posted on Twitter.