Australian Indians shocked, concerned about relatives in Mumbai

November 27th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 27 (IANS) Working the telephone lines, monitoring television, sending e-mails… Indians in Australia Thursday desperately tried to get information on friends and family in Mumbai as they woke up to the horror of the massive terror strike in India’s financial capital that has killed at least 101 people. “It is very sad and frightening. I had just woken up and switched on the television to see the horrifying events in Mumbai unfold on screen,” Shubha Kumar, a research scientist who migrated here from Ahmedabad in 1973, told IANS about the attack that also left over 250 injured.

Some Australians are believed to be among the victims.

“One could never ever imagine anything like this. One wonders what can be the motive behind killing innocent people,” said Kumar whose niece was with her friends on the 18th floor of the Oberoi Trident Hotel when they heard gun shots and blasts.

The hotel along with the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel was among the prominent landmarks targetted by terrorists in an overnight attack that began Wednesday. People continued to be held hostage at the two hotels well into Thursday.

“After 12 long hours, I have finally managed to touch base with my niece. She is in Mumbai on a six-month work project from her company in London and has been staying at the Oberoi Hotel. She told me that on hearing the loud blasts and gun shots they panicked and ran down the fire escape.

“There were people running helter-skelter, screaming and shouting everywhere when they were swiftly and calmly guided by the hotel staff to a secure place. She is safe in her older sister’s home in suburban Mumbai now,” said Kumar.

She is one of the many Indians in Australia concerned about the safety of their extended families and friends in India’s financial capital.

“The wife of one of our friends who was in Mumbai visiting her parents was in Nariman Point when the attacks happened at the Oberoi Trident Hotel. She has been traumatised and shaken by what she saw,” Raj Natarajan, president of the United India Association (UIA), the apex body representing 18 Indian community organisations in Australia, told IANS.

“This is a deplorable act and we condemn the deadly attacks. It is not the first time that India has been subjected to terrorism. People who don’t believe in democratic ways are trying to divide India along religious lines, but India has demonstrated in the past that it won’t succumb to such divisive tactics adopted by terrorists.

“Our heart goes out to all the people there. UIA will be eager to provide financial help to the affected families,” Natarajan told IANS.

Federation of Australian Indian Associations (FAIA) has also expressed deep sorrow at the loss of life and injury caused to hundreds of people in Mumbai. FAIA is organising a prayer meeting this weekend to offer condolences and pray for victims of Mumbai and Oct 30 Assam blasts.

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