Mumbai: Five years on since the dastardly 26/11 terror attacks, Mumbai remembered the martyrs, victims and survivors at various commemoration events held in different parts of the city Tuesday.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, his cabinet colleagues and top police officials accompanied by a large number of families of 26/11 victims paid homage at the memorial built at Police Gymkhana at Chowpatty.
Floral tributes were offered to the martyrs and victims at the site by the dignitaries, including state Home Minister R.R. Patil and union Minister of State for Human Resource Shashi Tharoor, on the solemn occasion.
Similar commemorative events have also been planned at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower and Oberoi Trident hotels, the Leopold Cafe and Nariman House, which were targeted by a group of 10 heavily armed Pakistani terrorists who killed 166 people and wounded another 300 during three days of mayhem Nov 26-29, 2008.
Obituary columns of many city newspapers carried photographs and tributes by family members, companies and employers of those innocent people who lost their lives in the terror madness.
However, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus authorities decided against making any makeshift arrangement to enable commuters offer tributes at the railway station which was one of the first and prominent public targets.
“Life is moving ahead after five years. We don’t want to keep reminding people of those horrible days. They can remember their near and dear ones in their hearts,” a railway official explained.
One of the survivors of the brutal attack at Leopold Cafe, Bharat Gujjar, who was at the billing counter that night, says memories of that chilling night have virtually gone.
“For how long can you live on memories and thinking about that tragic incident? The only memories now are the nine shards of granite and the stitches from where sharp flying glass pieces were removed from my body,” Gujjar said.
While the pieces of stone are still present in his arms, legs and back, the glass shards were removed through surgeries necessitating his stay in hospital for four months, but the stitched portions still swell and pain during winters.
Sachin Bhonsale, whose father, policeman Balasaheb Bhonsale was martyred near Chowpatty Beach while he was helping his colleagues to nab alive terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab early Nov 27, 2008, says the family has caught on with life after the tragedy.
“However, my mother still becomes emotional on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Our father had gone to work Wednesday and the next day the family got the earth-shattering news that he was dead,” he said.
While his elder brother Deepak has been working with Mumbai police, Sachin has been given a job with the state government and also has managed the petrol station that was given as compensation to the family.
On the eve of 26/11 anniversary Monday, hundreds of students from international schools and colleges attending an exchange programme of WeSchool, took a pledge of peace and forgiveness at the St. Mary’s Shelter Home.
The pledge was led and administered by One Life Alliance founder and forgiveness campaigner, US national Kia Scherr and WeSchool group director Uday Salunkhe.