Trade, commerce hit as terror strikes India’s commercial hub (Second Lead)

November 27th, 2008 - 3:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Nov 27 (IANS) Trade and commerce in India’s commercial and entertainment capital came to a halt Thursday with offices shut and trading suspended on all bourses after terror struck this metropolis since the previous night, leaving 101 people dead and more than 250 injured.As terrorists took scores of domestic and overseas tourists hostage at two of the city’s top luxury hotels, the state government declared a public holiday and asked people not to venture out, crippling commercial activity at this otherwise bustling city.

“Considering the prevailing abnormal situation and the government’s advice to people to stay at home, it has been decided to keep the market closed for the day,” said a notice issued by the Bombay Stock Exchange.

“The expiry in futures and options, and settlement due today, stands postponed to the next working day,” said the exchange, as similar notice was issued by the National Stock Exchange and most of the commodities and currency exchanges.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank, which has its headquarters here, also said there would be no transactions and settlements in government securities, foreign exchange and money markets Thursday.

“Settlement of all outstanding transactions will accordingly get postponed to the next working day, Nov 28, 2008,” the central bank’s advisory said.

“Last night’s attack is a clear and unambiguous attack on the Indian economy and all its participants,” said a statement by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), a leading industry lobby.

“Indian business and its various stakeholders have so far been mute and detached from this debate on terrorism and tougher approach to terrorism and terrorists, including anti-terror laws,” said the chamber president Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

“It is time we all join this debate on terrorism and demand stronger and firmer leadership and approach to this threat of terrorism, including better laws.”

Even though air and train services resumed from this city, the travel trade industry reported scores of cancellations - not just for Thursday but also for the days ahead. Some countries also advised citizens not to travel to India.

“In view of the current situation, we have also beefed up security at all the stations across our network,” said Sanjay Aggarwal, chief executive of budget carrier SpiceJet, but adding that operations were otherwise normal.

Air India spokesperson Jitendra Bhargava told IANS that both domestic and international flights were now running as scheduled from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

Jet Airways asked its entire staff to report for duty in the morning, even if their duty hours were to begin later in the day.

“Everyone has to report in the morning. Contingency plans have been put in force at the Mumbai airport,” a Jet official said, adding that specialised security forces had taken over the airport.

Railway services, too, resumed normally from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus with the Mumbai-Patna Express departing at 4 a.m. in the morning, after trains were suspended for some six hours when the news of terror attacks started pouring in.

The main station, earlier called the Victoria Terminus, is the headquarters of Central Railway and was one of the seven landmarks that were the target of terrorists.

The landmark Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel opposite the Gateway of India, and the Oberoi Trident Hotel - both of which attract scores of tourists and business visitors from overseas - were also targeted.

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