Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Mumbai’s tribute to victims of the day they call 26/11

A gunman walks at the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008.

People gathered around Mumbai yesterday, holding vigils, calling for police reform and painting murals to remember the 166 killed in the deadly terror attacks a year ago.

The attacks paralysed Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, for 60 hours when 10 Pakistan-based gunmen fanned out across the Indian financial capital, attacking luxury hotels, a railway station and other sites, as police and military struggled for three days to regain control.

Seven men were charged in Pakistan yesterday over the assault.

Two non-governmental groups gathered 100 people to paint about a stretch of wall in south Mumbai, where the attacks were focused.

“We want to make sure 26/11 is not forgotten,” said Shaina NC, one of the organisers.

Schoolgirls left red handprints on the yellow wall. Someone painted “I (heart) Mumbai” in big black letters. A man left the words “Wake up govt” in drippy red paint. A woman in a black chador wrote in small block letters: “We forget what they were dying for.”

Police, criticised for being poorly trained and poorly-armed, are using the anniversary to showcase security improvements.

Camouflaged armoured vehicles and bright yellow boats — part of Mumbai's new £16.6m plan to beef up security — rumbled up Marine Drive yesterday, rehearsing for an official parade.

Mumbai's new Force One commando unit, an elite anti-terror brigade of more than 200 men, was inaugurated on Tuesday but during the two-hour ceremony several commandos, clad in dark blue, fainted in the heat.

A handful of people from a citizen's group gathered outside the Taj Mahal hotel last night to urge further reform. They lit candles and chanted a patriotic song before a flank of flashing cameras.

Diplomats from around the world lit candles in memory of those who died.

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