Pune pays tribute to German Bakery blast victims (Lead)

February 13th, 2011 - 11:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Pune, Feb 13 (IANS) Thousands of people paid tribute to the victims of last year’s blast at Pune’s popular German Bakery Sunday with candlelight marches, blood donation camps and memorial services. People gathered in large numbers at Koregaon Park, where the bakery is located, and other places including Ishanya Mall and Fergusson College and expressed their solidarity with the families of the blast victims.

The terror attack left 17 dead, including four foreigners, and 65 injured. It was the country’s first major attack since the November 26-29, 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

“Several people participated in the blood donation drive and also the candlelight vigil organised at the Ishanya Mall and Fergusson College,” said Avinash Kumar, managing director of Inhouse Productions, which organised the events.

Snehal Kharose, owner of the bakery, was present at the event and also donated blood. She said it would take a few weeks to restart the eatery and that it will be dedicated to those who lost their lives in the blast.

She also said that a memorial would be constructed on the premises of the new bakery.

Commander (retd) R.W. Pathak from the Indian Ex-servicemen Society addressed the gathering at Ishanya Mall and urged people to be alert and report any suspicious activity to the police.

A peace march that culminated near the bakery site at Koregaon Park also saw people participating in huge numbers, who lit candles and wrote peace messages on a graffiti wall.

Pune Police Commissioner Meeran Borwankar appealed to the citizens to remain vigilant.

She also said that all police stations have been sensitised to form special squads for rapid response to such attacks.

The Koregaon Park area also houses the Chhabad House of the Jewish community and the Osho Ashram, visited by several foreigners throughout the year. They are perceived as soft targets for terrorist attacks.

Earlier Sunday, cricketer V.V.S. Laxman also paid tribute to the victims by offering flowers and lighting a candle at the site, which still bears the scars of the blast and is being renovated.

Laxman placed a bouquet at the entrance of the bakery and said that the issue of growing terrorism in the country needs to be addressed.

Last year, Pune’s young crowd was warming up to the much-awaited Valentine’s Day celebrations the following day. However, their celebrations were cut short at 6.55 p.m. when the bomb ripped through the bakery, claiming 17 lives.

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