The ubiquitous empathy for the Mumbai victims and their families that brought out people defying the near freezing conditions, to hold remembrance meetings and candlelight vigils, has seldom been previously witnessed in London. It seemed that Londoners felt as anguished and angry as the people in Mumbai. Most meetings were held by individuals, who hardly had any means to congregate people, yet hundreds turned up at all the 12 to 15 meets in London alone.
9/11 had horrified and stupefied the people and 7/7 in London triggered a wave of anger. The Madrid train bombings again brought the dangers of terrorism home to the people. But it was for the first time that Britons have mourned in this manner. Barry Gardiner, MP, explained why London has taken the Mumbai brutality to its heart. “An umbilical cord binds us here in London with Mumbai and through it, with Hyderabad, Gandhinagar, Bangalore and Delhi.” He showed a “Raksha bandhan” around his wrist. “We all should wear this band to stand together against terrorists.”
The depth of anger sweeping across Britain surfaced during the Remembrance meeting chaired by Virendra Sharma, MP, in the House of Commons Committee Room. Over 40 Peers, MPs and ministers said they had received sympathy messages from their constituents. Over 200 MPs and ministers, who could not attend due to a one-line whip, also sent messages in which they said that hundreds of their constituents also expressed their anguish. This meant that hundreds and thousands of people stood with India at the moment of its biggest terror attack.
A few speakers were aggressive. Minister for London Tony McNulty said, “We must condemn (without naming) those who harbour, support and finance these terrorists. We must stand shoulder to shoulder with India.” The message from David Cameron expressed support to the stand of the Indian Government in taking on the perpetrators. A candlelight vigil at Canary Wharf, home of some of the biggest corporate houses in the world, attended by over 500 people including Members of Parliament, said organisers “symbolised the solidarity of one financial capital with the other”.
Two vigils were held in front of the India House, including one by a BBC journalist Nishtha who in her appeal on the Internet said, “ India is bleeding… and yet again!” These vigils as Nishtha put it was to light a candle, “which may be a small gesture… But it is an act premised on a sense of civility, compassion and human decency.”
“The mood may be sombre but it has strengthened the common thread that ties human beings together”, said a French student who joined the vigil at the India House.