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After a Decade, India Remembers The Terrorist Attack On Mumbai

Businessman Dilip Mehta took counseling for months after he faced the prospect of falling victim to a terrorists bullet at Taj Mahal hotel.

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Mumbai Terror Attack
A man walks past a wall riddled with bullet holes opposite to the Nariman House, one of the targets of the November 26, 2008 attacks, after the renaming ceremony of Nariman House as Nariman Light House in Mumbai, India. VOA

A decade after 10 Islamic terrorists laid a three-day siege to India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and killed 166 people, businessman Dilip Mehta recalls the horror of the nine hours that he was holed up in a banquet hall in a luxury hotel, wondering when the gunmen would storm inside.

“I do feel traumatized when I hear of any kind of terrorist activities in the world,” said Mehta, who was eventually evacuated via a fire exit.

From the mark it left on survivors and the families of the victims to the deep blow it struck to ties between India and Pakistan, the scars of the coordinated attacks that began on November 26th in 2008 still run deep.

26/11 Mumbai Attack
A reporter talks on her phone as smoke is seen coming from Taj Hotel in Mumbai, November 27, 2008, where terrorists were holding hostages during an attack that began the previous day. VOA

Solemn memorial services were held in the city for the victims as India marked the 10th anniversary of the attacks, in which the heavily armed gunmen stormed multiple targets.Mumbai’s police paid homage to more than a dozen officers and commandos killed in the operation against the militants.Two luxury hotels held private services while a Jewish Center, which was also attacked, unveiled a new memorial to all those who died in the assault.

“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,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.

The foreign ministry said it is a matter of “deep anguish” the victims of the attack who belonged to 15 countries “still await closure with Pakistan showing little sincerity in bringing perpetrators to justice.The planners of 26/11 still roam the streets of Pakistan with impunity.”

New Delhi says the attack was masterminded by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and frequently slammed Islamabad for not taking action against the man who founded the group, Hafiz Saeed. Saeed, who has been designated as a terrorist by the United Nations, has denied involvement and Pakistan says India has not produced enough evidence against him.

Mumbai Terror Attack
FILE – People hold a candlelight vigil for the victims of a terrorist attack, in Mumbai, India, Nov. 29, 2008. The attack took a total of 160 lives. VOA

Announcing a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to arrests or convictions of those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack, the United States also said that it was an affront to the families of the victims that those who planned the attack had not been convicted.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on “all countries, particularly Pakistan to uphold their U.N. Security Council obligations to implement sanctions against the terrorists responsible for this atrocity, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates.”

Nine of the 10 gunmen who mounted the attack were killed, one was captured.He has been convicted and hanged.

According to Harsh Pant at New Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation, the 2008 Mumbai attacks continue to cast a shadow on India-Pakistan relations.“When you talk of rapproachment with Pakistan, when you talk of talks with Pakistan, the stakeholders are very limited,” he said.”The question comes: why have we failed in bringing those who perpetrated these acts to book?”

Mumbai Terror Attack
Flames engulf the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, on November 27, 2008, VOA

While Mumbai had suffered terror attacks prior to those in 2008, the strikes were the most audacious.The three-day siege put the spotlight on India’s weak coastal security – the 10 terrorists sneaked into the city on a fishing vessel.

Since then, maritime security has been strengthened and coastal police stations have been set up.On the eve of the anniversary, police officials said the city is better prepared to counter terrorist threats.

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“I can assure Mumbaikars that the city is safe and police are capable of protecting you from any eventuality,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Subodh Kumar Jaiswal said.

Businessman Dilip Mehta took counseling for months after he faced the prospect of falling victim to a terrorists bullet at Taj Mahal hotel, where for about 60 hours, the gunmen shot dead guests and hotel staff.His life took a 360 degree turn after the attack, but he says he does feel more secure.“Now with whatever precautions and measures which have been taken, I feel quite safe in Bombay,” he said. (VOA)

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Mercy for the Nirbhaya Rapists?

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past.

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Nirbhaya
The Nirbhaya incident in Delhi was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India.

By Salil Gewali

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past. Apart from various kinds of physical tortures, the mental tortures undergone by defenseless females are endless. Within the confinement of four-walls innumerable sins are still being committed which mostly go unreported. However, it was Nirbhaya’s rape incident in Delhi that was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India. Post-Nirbhaya incident, a lot many changes in the laws have been made. The safety and security of women have been prioritized, the nation-wide the whole police departments have been sensitized, to a greater extent the road transportation has been made women-friendly.

Nirbhaya rape
The public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night.

Thanks to the countless number of protests across the country condemning the six rapists. The people from all walks of life came together and relentlessly pressurized the government that the Nirbhaya convicts must be awarded capital punishment. Media’s contribution in the campaign is immeasurable. Alas, India’s judiciary is so annoyingly slow it has taken over 7 years to pronounce the death sentence.

Nirbhaya rape
Advocate Indira Jaising suggested that the convicts of Nirbhaya rape case could be “forgiven” by the parents.

However, now nothing could be so mind-blowing than the flood of condemnation against the comments by a veteran advocate and social activist Indira Jaising. Without a sense of guilt and potential backlash, she suggested that the convicts be “forgiven” by the parents. Jaising’s idea has clearly touched a raw nerve of the major population in the country. People’s anger is spilled well over social media. What is most noteworthy is the scathing condemnation directly from the horse mouth — the mother Asha Devi. A very bold lady, who determinedly fought for justice for so many years, thunders – “Who is Indira Jaising to give me such a suggestion? The whole country wants the convicts to be executed. Just because of people like her, justice is not done with rape victims,” Asha Devi aptly further adds — “Can’t believe how Jaising even dared to suggest such this; I met her many times over the years in Supreme Court, “not once” she asked for my well-being and today she is speaking for convicts. Such people earn a livelihood by supporting rapists; hence rape incidents don’t stop,”

The latter comments by the Nirbhaya’s mother clearly hint the doubt at the “integrity” of the advocate Ms. Jaising. How on earth that one who has not spoken a word of sympathy in spite of many encounters in the court can reserves the right to suggest that which offends the distressed victim party. Asha Devi deserves a salute for her boldness. Yes, India Jaising is one of the advocates who knocked the door of the Chief Justice of India in the middle of the night in July 2015 in order to seek the mercy for the dreaded terrorist Yakub Menon.

Nirbhaya rapists
In 2015, the Delhi Government proposed to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine.

Again, here is another bombshell to drop which many of us may have forgotten. Can we ever “forgive” for the shocking proposal in 2015 by Delhi Government to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine?  Who has approved such bizarre ideas and which leaders are responsible? What kind of lesson should the citizens take from this?

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I think the public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night. They had used the iron-rod to inflict deep injuries upon the girl which is unspeakable, which is very unpardonable. So, given the increasing cases of rapes and subsequent inhumane cruelty and cold-blooded killings, Capital punishment can be the only answer and “one of the deterrents”. Before the divine retribution, the hard rod of punishment should not be spared at all. 

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali