26/11 Mumbai attacks: Memorial dedicated to victims to be inaugurated at Nariman House in Mumbai; families recall 2008 horror

It was a cool night on 26 November, 2008, when ten heavily-armed Pakistani terrorists brazenly entered Mumbai through the Arabian Sea route in a dinghy.

Minutes later, they launched one of the most brutal terrorist attacks that the world has seen, targeting several prime locations in South Mumbai, covering a 4-5 square kilometre area, leaving India shaken and the global community shocked.

The attack — at iconic locations such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Hotel Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Hotel Trident, Nariman House, Leopold Café, Cama Hospital, Wadi Bunder — killed 166 persons and left another 300 injured, besides inflicting massive damage to public and private properties.

Ten years on, Mumbai police commissioner Subodh Kumar Jaiswal says that Mumbai is safe and police are competent to handle any terror threat.

"I can assure Mumbaikars that the city is safe and police are capable of protecting you from any eventuality," he said. "We have a strong and trained police force having latest equipment, weapons, strategy tactics and are always ready to deal with all the challenges," he added.

Representational image. AFP

The Hotel Taj Mahal Palace during the 26/11 attack. AFP

Jaiswal, who served in the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), said Mumbai Police has an excellent coordination with all state and central agencies dealing with the city security. The city has a network of around 5,000 CCTVs which help monitor any suspicious activity, he said.

First phase of memorial to be inaugurated today

Meanwhile, memories of the attack still remain fresh in the minds of residents of the city. On Monday, the first phase of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the attack will be inaugurated at the Nariman House in south Mumbai's Colaba area.

The Nariman House, which houses an outreach centre of the Jewish Chabad movement, was one of the places which were attacked, its siege ending with NSG commandos storming the building and gunning down two terrorists who had taken its residents hostage.

The first phase of the memorial will comprise a plaque on the roof of the building inscribed with the names of those who died in the 26/11 attack, Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky said on Sunday.

Signifying a new chapter of peace and a beacon of light, the building itself would be called the Nariman Light House from Sunday, he informed.

Families of victims recall incident

Sunanda Shinde was 36 when her husband, a ward boy at a south Mumbai hospital was killed by the terrorists. Ten years on, she feels the government discriminated while deciding on compensation for the 26/11 martyrs.

Sunanda's husband Bhagan Shinde worked at the Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital. That fateful night, on hearing gun shots, he had gone to a nearby phone booth to call his wife and kids when he was shot from behind at the hospital gate.

"Kin of martyrs from police got petrol pumps besides the compensation amount, a house and jobs. But the government did not allot petrol pumps to martyrs who were from government hospitals," she said.

Recalling the events of that tragic night, she said Bhagan had finished his work and was about to leave the hospital. "I was in a train, returning to the staff quarters near the hospital from my parents' residence at Chinchpokli in central Mumbai along with my elder daughter," she said.

File image of security forces inside Nariman House during the 26/11 terror attacks. Reuters

File image of security forces inside Nariman House during the 26/11 terror attacks. Reuters

"My husband had called me and said that he is reaching home in a few minutes. As he reached the gate, he heard heavy firing and saw terrorists heading towards the gate. He tried to close the gate, but before he could do so, collapsed after being shot by terrorists," she said.

Pravin Narkar, whose father Bhanu Narkar was killed when terrorists stormed the Cama and Albless Hospital in south Mumbai that night, says no amount of government help can help bring back his father, a security guard at the hospital.

Pravin, 30, appointed as a guard in his father's place after the attack, said his father was on duty on that fateful night. "All of us family members were calling him on his mobile phone after the news of the terror attack at Cama hospital was flashed on TV screens but his phone was not reachable," he said.

"In the wee hours of 27 November, we got a call from the hospital administration about his death in the attack. Our world crumbled," he said.

For 41-year-old Karuna Waghela, whose husband Thakur Waghela was killed by terrorists, who first asked for water to drink and then sprayed him with bullets, it has been a bleak 10 years after the tragedy.

Karuna, who works as a sweeper at the GT Hospital where her husband was a ward boy, said she could not devote time for her three children when they needed her the most as she was busy shouldering her new responsibility as breadwinner for the family.

"My son, who was just four and a half years old when his father was shot, was in shock and hasn't been able to erase the ghastly memory," she said.

The boy was also a witness in the 26/11 terror attack case, in which Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive, was sentenced to death.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 26, 2018 06:56:10 IST