Bustle back in Mumbai a month after, but anger persists

December 26th, 2008 - 12:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Dec 26 (IANS) Mumbai, India’s financial and movie capital, is as busy and bustling as ever, giving an impression as if nothing ever happened. But anger persists over the depredation the city suffered when terrorists committed a brutal massacre that stunned the world and brought India and Pakistan close to war.A month after the Nov 26-29 bloodshed that was captured live on television around the world, Mumbai is back on its feet. But memories of the horrific hours linger on. Stories of heroism and luck of those who fought the terrorists and those who survived are still told and re-told.

Anger against neighbouring Pakistan who almost everyone in the city blames for the savagery is matched only by disgust against the central and state governments for allowing the terrorists to succeed at the first place and what many see as a lethargic response.

“People have accepted the reality of life and moved ahead as Mumbaikars always have done in the past,” commented adman Bharat Dabholkar.

Ramu Ishwar, a business executive in north Mumbai, partly agrees.

“It is true that life has returned to normal but the fact is that life went on almost normally in other parts of the city even when the terrorists were killing in south Mumbai,” he said. “Some people keep talking about resilience and all that. But what choice do people really have?”

Offices, businesses and educational institutions remained shut for days in south Mumbai which the terrorists targeted after sneaking into the metropolis by boat on Nov 26 evening, armed with weapons, ammunition and satellite phones that they combined with their ruthlessness.

That very night, they took over the Taj hotel near the landmark Gateway of India, the nearby Oberoi-Trident hotel and a Jewish centre where they went on to taunt people as they killed them. Indian commandos fought pitched battles at all three sites to eventually subdue them all by Nov 29 - providing three days of globally watched unprecedented terror drama.

The schools and colleges opened a long time ago, and so did shops as well as businesses. The crowds too have returned to the beaches, to cinemas and shopping malls and to temples and mosques. The trains are running packed to capacity. Bollywood’s actors and studios are back to their busy, tiring routine. The Taj and Trident hotels have reopened partly.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, where scores were killed as terrorists fired away from their automatic rifles, is teeming with people again. The station, once known as Victoria Terminus, today hosts many armed policemen - a sight also to be seen near the targeted hotels.

Elsewhere, Mumbai still looks the same. As if nothing ever happened.

The one visible change is Maharashtra’s new Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, a pleasing man who is doing his best to bring the level of anger down. But that won’t be easy.

“It is good we caught a terrorist but I wish we had caught all 10 of them and hanged them publicly,” says school student Sheetal Tipnis. It may a dangerous view but it has many takers.

Over 170 people, including 26 foreigners, died in the Mumbai terror massacre. Twenty-seven of the 294 injured are still in hospitals.

“A majority of them are orthopaedic cases or have other serious injuries which take longer to heal,” Pravin Shingare, dean, Sir J.J. Hospital, told IANS.

In the last 15 years, this was the third time Mumbai was hit by a terror attack of this magnitude - after the March 12, 1993 serial bombings and the July 11, 2006 serial blasts in suburban trains. In both cases many more died. But this time people want action.

Maharashtra disaster management cell director S. Mohanty said the government had disbursed compensation to the family members of 118 of the dead so far. This includes 16 foreign nationals.

Eleven victims, including a woman, are yet to be identified. All of them are Indians - perhaps strangers who came to Mumbai to start a new life but ended up getting killed for no fault of theirs.

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