HT Image
HT Image

Mumbai remembers train bombing dead, awaits justice

Commuters offer flowers and prayers to mark the first anniversary of bomb blasts that killed 186 people in Mumbai, but families of victims regret that justice still evaded them.
Reuters | By HT Correspondent, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 11, 2007 06:07 PM IST

Commuters offered flowers and prayers to mark the first anniversary on Wednesday of bombs that killed 186 people in its financial capital, but families of victims regretted that justice still evaded them.

A year ago, seven bombs went off within 15 minutes on packed commuter trains during the rush-hour in Mumbai, one of India's worst bombings that killed 186 people and one of the bombers.

Police say the carnage was planned by Pakistan-based Islamist militants under directions from Pakistan's military spy agency and executed by Pakistani extremists and Indian Muslims, a charge denied by Islamabad.

But while 18 Indians have been arrested and charged with plotting the attack or planting the bombs, and 10 Pakistanis named in absentia, there has been criticism at the slow pace of the investigation and the failure to try the accused.

"In a second our lives were shattered. But when it comes to justice why does one have to wait for years?" asked Anjana Agarwal, who lost her husband in one of the blasts.

The Hindustan Times berated the authorities for failing to catch the ringleaders behind the bomb plot in an editorial entitled "Clueless in Mumbai", and for failing to prepare and protect the country against acts of terrorism.

It said officials had even failed to install more than 500 closed circuit television cameras in urban railway stations "as mandarins continue to dither over whether it would be cheaper to hire these cameras rather than buy them".

There is little sign of extra security on the city's teeming rail network, but many commuters stopped to pray on Wednesday, offering marigold and hibiscus flowers at makeshift memorials at stations where the bombs had gone off.

Railway authorities were running one of the railcars badly mangled in the attacks but restored with much effort.

"By running one of the damaged coaches we want to show the indomitable spirit of Mumbai," said railway official Ajay Solanki.

The trial of the accused is due to start in a special court later this month, after several weeks' delay caused by a last minute appeal against the court's validity.

Many fear more delays because most of the accused were refusing to either hire lawyers or defend themselves.

Some relatives of victims of the latest attacks have also complained about delays in distributing compensation and allotting promised government jobs.

"We were told that the government will bear the expenses of my son's treatment, but when we go to the government they say we should ask the railways," said Fancy Devi, whose 14-year-old son is still to emerge from the trauma.

But authorities deny mistakes have been made.

"The total number of beneficiaries is more than 900," said Ramesh Kumar, a top relief official. "Our help reached the families the very day of the attacks or at most the next day."

Story Saved