Attacks of 26/11: Eight years on, government fails to fulfil promises, compensate victims' kin
It has been eight years since 10 terrorists entered Mumbai and caused havoc across South Mumbai. Here's a recount of the events during the 26/11 attacks.
It has been eight years since 10 terrorists, trained in Pakistan, entered Mumbai and caused havoc across South Mumbai. The terrorists had entered into the heart of the financial capital of India marching unafraid with only one aim — to cause mayhem and death. At least 164 people were killed and 308 were injured. And they did so for three days, launching coordinated attacks that included hotels, a train station, a hospital and a Jewish community centre.
How it happened:
According to revelations made by Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley who turned approver in the case, 10 terrorists made two unsuccessful attempts to attack Mumbai before they landed on Mumbai shores on 26 November in 2008.
An India TV report offers a detailed account of how they reached Mumbai. According to the report, the terrorists set sail towards India on 23 November on a hijacked Indian trawler named the Kuber. Seven kilometres off Mumbai shores, the terrorists got on inflatable speedboats. Disguised as students, six of them got off at Macchimar Nagar, in Mumbai's Cuffe Parade neighbourhood, while the rest four came ashore at Badhwar Park.
CST Station: The terrorists than headed to their respective targets, attacking anything that came their way. According to The Indian Express, four militants (one of them being Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist who was captured alive) started firing inside the CST station on the night of 26 November. "The attack had left 52 dead and injured over a 100 others. The firing ended at about 10:45 pm," the report said.
Nariman House: Meanwhile, terrorists managed to enter Chabad House (a Jewish community centre) in Colaba. The militants exchanged fire for the next two days torturing the residents of the building. According to The Indian Express, which visited the site after the terrorists were killed, "the site resembled much like a global conflict zone. More than 30 grenades had been hurled. Small craters were all over the floor and bullet marks all across the walls. The stench of decomposed bodies was unbearable. The bodies of the two terrorists lay on the fourth floor."
The Oberoi-Trident: The first victim to fall at the Oberoi-Trident attack was the gatekeeper of the Trident Hotel. According to reports, foreign nationals were the main target of the attack. By the end of the 40-hour seize, 143 hostages were rescued alive and 24 bodies were recovered.
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel: The burning dome of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel with dark smoke emanating from it has become one of the iconic images of the 26/11 attacks. The attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel made it clear that the terrorist knew about the place. This was further proven during the depositions by Headley, where he said that the terrorists had a mock of the hotel as well as GPS locations of their targets that he had provided. The terrorists were killed after 60 hours of fire exchange between them and the NSG commandos. Around 30 people died in the attack.
Leopold Cafe: On the evening of 26 November, two gunmen opened fire at Leopold Cafe, killing around 10 people and injuring many others.
Timed bombs: According to an India TV report, two taxis were also targeted in the city using time bombs — one at Vile Parle that killed a driver and a passenger and another at Wadi Bunder that killed three including the driver and injured 15.
Who was behind the attack:
Several investigations and statements given by Headley, have revealed that Hafiz Saeed, leader of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD) was the mastermind behind the attacks. Headley also revealed the involvement of Pakistan's Army and ISI. India has requested to name Saeed as a terrorist, a move which has been often blocked by China. Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist, caught alive was hanged after a special court found him guilty in November 2012. His hanging was carried out secretly by the Maharashtra government. According to reports, the government spent Rs 1.47 crore on Kasab when he was lodged at the Arthur Road jail for four years. Out of the total amount, Rs 1.46 crore was spent on security, Rs 39,000 on his medical expenses, Rs 42,000 on food and Rs 1,878 on clothes.
RPF continues to be ignored: The attacks highlighted how ill-prepared and ill-equipped Indian security forces were when it came to dealing with trained infiltrators like those who attacked Mumbai eight years ago. While frisking and metal detectors have become mandatory in all public places including railway and malls, and India now has its own elite force of commandos called Force One, the wait for a specialised commando training centre for the Railway Protection Force continues to be trapped in the files, reported DNA.
"The need for a commando training facility was felt after the nation was subjected to painful images of helplessness of RPF personnel during the 26/11 terror raid on Mumbai in 2008," the report said, adding, "RPF constables, armed with British-vintage .303 rifles, first tried to ward off the two terrorists at CST that day. But when most of the British-vintage .303 rifles jammed, these personnel had little choice but to duck for cover from the assault rifle fire from the terrorists."
According to the report, around Rs 26.70 crore was sanctioned and railway construction firm Ircon was appointed to construct a commando training facility for the RPF at Canning in the South Parganas district in West Bengal. But the plan was dropped in 2013 due to hassles in land acquisition.
Security remains a concern: However, security remains a major concern for India. This year alone we saw two attacks, one on an airport base and another in an army camp, both carried out by foreign militants.
Compensation not offered to the dead and their families: What is more saddening is that even after eight years, the Maharashtra state government has compensated only 102 families (of the 166 that died) with the Rs 3 lakh compensation that the government had promised, India Today reported.
That's not all, though. The state government even failed to seek reports on victims who were not from the state of Maharashtra if they received the due compensation. The state has also not bothered to check whether or not kin of the officials from the police/NSG Commandos/Home Guard (it has no information on 15 officials) who died during the attacks received the promised compensation of Rs 25 lakhs.
According to Indian Express, the government has further stated that it is yet to receive information from embassies for disbursement of compensation to legal heirs of 26 foreigners who died in the attacks.
(With inputs from IANS)
Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley today said that his handlers told him that "nothing will happen against" Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed and that actions taken by Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency against them and other LeT members in 26/11 case are "superficial".
Nearly six years after it was left scarred and bloodied in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that forced its closure, Jewish outreach centre Chabad House has sprung back to life.