Massive show of solidarity for victims of 26/11
An unprecedented, massive show of tricolour-waving solidarity for the victims of 26/11 in Mumbai turns intoa nationwide roar for change, reports Purva Mehra.india Updated: Dec 04, 2008 09:05 IST
As dusk thickened at the Gateway of India, thousands of quivering points of light lit up the evening. Seven days after Mumbai had been bloodied by terror attacks whose ramifications spread beyond the borders of the country, a ravaged city came together at the very spot where the carnage had been unleashed in a show of support unparalleled in its scale in recent Indian history.
<b1>What began as a small candlelit vigil at the harbour front on Monday had gained momentum over the next two days through text messages that urged people to turn up at the Gateway for this peaceful protest march. On Wednesday evening, it revealed itself as a tricolour-waving, overwhelming show of solidarity for the victims of 26/11.
Lights went on in the attacked Taj Mahal Hotel in rooms that faced the Gateway. More than 10,000 had turned up hours even before the scheduled start of the march.
There were T-shirts that said ‘Mumbai meri jaan’ or ‘I love Mumbai’; there were ones that said ‘Enough is enough’ or ‘No vote, no taxes, no protection, no security.’ All the T-shirts were white, and every other person seemed to be wearing one.
Aashay Doshi, an 18-year-old student of Jai Hind College, and his friends were sporting T-shirts with printed slogans. His said: ‘Just because we have spirit don’t exploit it’. “We’ll give the money to JJ Hospital,” he said.
Weary of rhetoric, people wanted to be involved in the polity of the country; and they wouldn’t stand for any more ineptitude.
Jehaan Shah from The Flag Corporation, which makes flags for occasions, had turned up with tricolours large enough to be held aloft by 10 people. There were spontaneous singings of the national anthem. People stood on dividers, on tops of cars or buses or vans. And mourners lit candles on the pavement and the road, turning a usually frenetic area of Mumbai into numerous mini-shrines for the dead.
Adman Alyque Padamsee was distributing leaflets that sought suggestions from citizens about how to fight terror. “We’ll meet here again in a month,” he said. “By then, these would have been forwarded to the authorities.”
There were chants: “We want justice.” There were street plays. There was anger: “The politicians need to change,” said Sheetal Parikh, who runs a boutique near the Taj.
But most of all there was the sense of a grieving, seething city having found a way to show the emotions that had been bottled up and building as seven traumatic days — starting at 9.50 pm last Wednesday at Leopold’s café — unfolded.
Mumbai was the focal point, but the roar of change could be heard across India: at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore.
(With inputs from agencies)