Mumbai’s Taj or London’s Trafalgar - tourist attractions bothDecember 1st, 2008 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS
Mumbai, Dec 1 (IANS) For years, the imposing Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel opposite it have been Mumbai’s prime tourist attractions. And so it was Monday with cameras clicking away as the curious gathered to see the ravages terrorism had wrought on the city’s most enduring landmarks. Score of tourists, passers-by and even families sauntered across to see where India’s worst terror attack had begun and where it ended — the terrorists’ 60-hour siege began at the Gateway of India Wednesday night and ended Saturday morning after commandos felled the last of them in the 105-year-old Taj hotel.
The cobbled area seemed to have become as popular as London’s Trafalgar Square, but the pigeons here were still flapping around in a panic instead of perching confidently to peck grain from tourists. The three days of shooting and grenade blasts had taken their toll not just on the city and its people but also on the birds that were on edge.
In the crowd was a Parsi gentleman from Houston who was not at the Taj but was trapped behind the hotel for three days. He had come all the way from the US to get his knee operated upon and stepepd out Monday, hobbling around: “I was stuck for three days and am happy to get around. Now I will go to my doctor.”
As the area like the rest of the city strove to get on with its life after three nights and three days of a terror grip, children packed into their classrooms and commuters into trains to go to office, open up their shops and basically move on.
Though cinema theatres stayed closed, the effort to get back to normalcy was visible in the usual Monday rush.
“What will I do sitting at home?” was the comment from a suburban train commuter eager to get back to work - typical of a Mumbai that has learnt to move on after each calamity, both natural and manmade.
Beneath the surface calm, anger surged. Against politicians, whether of the Congress or the Shiv Sena or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Posters paying tribute to the three top officers of the Mumbai Police who died - Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar - were appreciated and read. But angry young men in certain parts of the city tore off portions which named the party sponsoring it.
“Parties are trying to capitalise on the issue,” said an angry young man.
Joining in the chorus of protests were social activists and others. The mood is anti-government, anti-politician, even anti-Congress, the party that heads the coalition governments in New Delhi and in the Maharashtra state.
There were also those seeking to be on cameras, rolling day and night to capture the action.
Carrying placards and posters asking the government to act, asking the prime minister or the chief minister to be accountable, to resign.
Some of them moved from one TV camera to another and from the Taj to Oberoi Trident, the other luxury hotel that came under attack last week.
That for the first time, terrorists were caught in action and photographs displayed all over was discussed too.