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Terror relived: India unites in remembering 26/11 victims

There were official commemorations and private moments of grief, sombre reflections and avid debates - a speeding country paused in its tracks today to remember the traumatic night of Nov 26 last year and the 60 hours of terror that followed.Listen to podcastaudio

india Updated: Nov 26, 2009 19:36 IST

There were official commemorations and private moments of grief, sombre reflections and avid debates - a speeding country paused in its tracks on Thursday to remember the traumatic night of Nov 26 last year and the 60 hours of terror that followed.

They went to school, college and office but the fear and helplessness of that day was never far from the mind as Indians across the country and the world mourned the 166 dead in India's most wounding terror strike that had left behind scars perhaps never to be healed.

In the national capital New Delhi, parliament began with two minutes silence and a resolution in the Lok Sabha to wage a united war against terror. In Kanpur, the cricket Test between India and Sri Lanka began with a similar homage. Tributes to the brave who died - and those who survived - were planned in many cities with citizens collecting at designated places.

And all thoughts were with Mumbai, India's thriving commercial capital that was ravaged by terrorists who came by boats from Pakistan on the night of Nov 26 to begin a bloody siege that ended only on the afternoon of Nov 28.

"The house salutes the indomitable courage of the security forces who gave a crushing blow to the terrorists on Nov 26, 2008, and fortitude of the people of Mumbai. On this day the house resolved to unitedly fight and defeat the forces of terrorism and never again allow them to spill the blood of innocent people," Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said.

Events were slated through the day in Mumbai - at Gateway of India, the two luxury hotels ravaged by the attacks, Chabad House? every place the terrorists had left a bloody imprint.

The morning rush hour showed the famed resilience of the Mumbaikar with commuter trains and buses packed and roads as choked as ever with traffic.

But memories of that night were uppermost.

Thousands of commuters rushing to their offices halted to pay respects to those slaughtered in the blaze of bullets at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).

Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel also laid wreaths inside the station to remember the commuters and their colleagues brutally gunned down by terrorists.

And while Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and his cabinet colleagues visited the precincts of the Hotel Trident-Oberoi at Nariman Point, people gathered outside the Leopold Cafe in Colaba - where the first attack was launched.

"We shall leave no stone unturned to protect Mumbai and its citizens," said Chavan as everyone -- from the celeb to the ordinary person -- relived the trauma.

Said Bollywood star Aamir Khan: "It was a very tragic event, but good thing that happened was that the tragedy brought the people of Mumbai together and closer."

Domestic worker Suvarna Kamble agreed with him when she said: "I came to Mumbai only three months before the terror attacks, but I was amazed by the sheer grit of the city. A year later, I feel safer and more confident of living in this big city."

The 1.5 km wall at Marine Drive was full of messages at 5 p.m. and thousands more came to read them.

"People want to unite, they want to jointly tackle the common challenges confronting them like terror? that is the reason the 1.5 km wall at Marine Lines has got several thousand messages," said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Shaina NC.

In Hyderabad, Noorjahan Begum, who lost her 22-year-old daughter Amina at the CST and whose husband Rashid was seriously injured, is still angry.

The wounds are still wide open for the family, which was about to board a train to Hyderabad after visiting the famous Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai when terrorists struck.

"He was the only source of livelihood for the family. Now he can't go out of the house and is completely bed-ridden," said Noorjahan of her auto-driver husband who sustained three bullet injuries.

For the makers of the Hindi comedy "De Dana Dan" being released Friday, it was a bizarre coincidence. The film had started on 26/11 last year and was being released a day after the anniversary.

Akshay Kumar, whose wife Twinkle was at the Taj when the terrorists stormed in, remembered the indomitable spirit that let them go on and how director Priyadarshan insisted on continuing the work "with full strength" to defy the terrorists.

"They wanted to stop us. And now the film is coming, one year and a day after the incident."

Remember but move on undeterred, the "De Dana Dan" story may epitomise the spirit in which India observed the 26/11 anniversary.

First Published: Nov 26, 2009 14:21 IST