November 26, 2011

26/11 Attacks: 3 Years on, Survivors Await Kasab's Execution

Three years after Ajmal Amir Kasab and his accomplices convulsed the country's financial capital, the survivors of 26/11 terror attacks are still waiting for the day when the convicted Pakistani gunman will be hanged.

26/11 Attacks: 3 Years on, Survivors Await Kasab's Execution

"Why is Kasab not hanged yet? What are we waiting for, another 26/11 type horrific attack? Kasab and his accomplices went on a rampage and shook every one of us. Why the government is not doing enough. Whenever I read anything about Kasab it just annoys me," 13-year-old Devika Rotwan, told PTI.

On the ill-fated night of November 26, 2008 Devika's father Natwarlal was waiting at the Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) here with his daughter and son Akash for a train, when two terrorists opened fire at the railway station.

"I am fine today but still I face difficulty while walking. My studies are going good. But in the last three years, we have shifted our house four times as neighbours often complain and fear for their lives due to our presence," the eighth grade girl, said.

Jewish couple--Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and Rivika's cook Qazi Zakir Hussain alias Jackie, a Muslim, who was there at the Chabad House, when two terrorists pulverised the Jewish centre mourns the death of his employers even as he wonders why Kasab is still around.
"The fantastic thing about our country is that good people like my employers - Rabbi and Rivika get killed and the evil ones like Kasab are having a good time in jail at the expense of the common man," Jackie said.

"I think the Kasab case would go the Afzal Guru way. The same process keeps on getting repeating for every accused and even in this case it’s the same. Even though a special fast track court was set up, the fate of Kasab is still hanging.. After Supreme Court, he will approach for mercy petition and this process will go on for years and years," Bharat said, who owns a chemist shop near Leopold Cafe, one of the first sites to be attacked, lost his brother Subhash on that day. His hope for justice has now stymied.

The state government has fulfilled "majority of the recommendations" of the Ram Pradhan committee instituted after the 26/11 attacks to suggest measures on how to improve the security system in the state, Maharashtra's Additional Chief Secretary (Home) U C Sarangi said.
"On the lines of the NSG, we have set up a 350 strong elite commando unit called Force one which is well equipped with the latest weapons and trained by Army and foreign experts. Every year, Rs 17 crore is being spent on this unit," he said.

As part of security measure to protect shores of Mumbai, Maharashtra Government plans to fit transponders in the boats of fishermen along the coast.

However, some problem areas still remain. Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad ATS is grappling with a severe manpower crunch with 283 posts of the total 732 lying vacant, two-and-a-half years after the panel, set up to probe state police's response to the Mumbai attacks recommended streamlining the force.

Of the sanctioned strength of 732 personnel for the ATS, which was formed in 2004 to counter terrorism and probe terror cases, 283 posts or 38.66 percent of the required manpower are lying vacant as on September 1, 2011, ATS sources said.

Ahead of the 26/11 anniversary, there is no specific threat or input from intelligence agencies but there is always a chance that terror outfits could resort to a "symbolic strike" to mark the third anniversary of the worst terror strike on India, home department sources said. Among the events being held tomorrow to mark the third anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks is unveiling of a memorial for slain policeman Tukaram Ombale.

A bust of Ombale will be unveiled tomorrow at Girgaum Chowpatty. Three years have passed since that fateful night when Assistant Sub Inspector Ombale lost his life while trying to nab terrorist Ajmal Kasab at Girgaum Chowpatty.

The four-feet high bronze statue was fabricated on the basis of approved photographs of Ombale and his uniform, the sculptors said.
On the eve of the terror attacks, memories of that fateful night come rushing back to the braveheart's wife Tarabai and four daughters.
"My mother is still coming to terms with the loss, but around this time each year she is a little more anxious than usual," Vaishali, Ombale's daughter, said describing her mother's state of mind.

Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan will be laying a wreath at the martyrs memorial situated at Police gymkhana in South Mumbai. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar will be present.

Apart from the remembrance of the victims of the attack and those who died fighting to save Mumbai from terrorists, no other function is planned, Sarangi said.

"The memorial will be thrown open to the public to come and pay their respects," he said.The state government run J J Hospital has organised blood donation camps in Mumbai where the city police officials will donate blood, he said.

A Marathi film based on the life of a policeman, witness to the 26/11 attacks, is being released on the eve of the third anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks. Titled "Hello Jai Hind," the film has noted art director Nitin Desai debuting as an actor and music by Ilayaraja, who is composing for a Marathi film for the first time."It is about life of the family of a policeman and how the city recovered from the attacks," said Gajendra Ahire, director of the film. "It is also about how we continue to live in fear of terror attacks.

Kavita Karkare, wife of slain ATS chief Hemant Karkare, said she was shocked at the apathy of the government. "Our leaders had made tall claims that the security system has been strengthened and no such attack will take place again. But the blasts in July this year exposed hollowness of their claims," she said.

"Even Pakistan has said that Kasab should be hanged, then what are we waiting for”

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