Nation bows, netas spar

26/11 victims remembered; Pranab, Advani fight over relief

Nation bows, netas spar

In Parliament, the country’s citadel of democracy, peoples’ representatives bickered and fought, blaming each other for not just the circumstances that led to the terror strikes but the Centre’s “inadequate” response in provinding succour to the victims’ families.

It indicated that the country’s policymakers had done little soul-searching a year after ten Pakistani terrorists wreaked havoc for nearly three days which underscored the seemingly endless failures to deal effectively with terrorism and address issues of accountability.

The presiding officers in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha gave the day a sombre feel by paying homage to the victims of the carnage, asking the government to root out the scourge of terrorism.

But an hour later,  Opposition and ruling members were at each other’s throats over the issue of compensation to victims’ relatives.
The first anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks saw leader of the Opposition L K Advani expressing concern over the “inadequate” relief to the victims’ kith and kin and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee hitting back accusing the BJP of using  the 26/11 attacks for political mileage.

“You are making politics out of this. Earlier also you did it and were paid back... You will be again paid back in your own coin,” an angry Mukherjee, the leader of the House, remarked in the Lok Sabha.

This followed BJP leader Anant Kumar’s insistence that Mukherjee should respond to Advani’s concerns over the state of relief and rehabilitation of the victims of 26/11 and the blasts on suburban trains. An impassioned Kumar said several people were still suffering and “some of them carrying bullets inside their bodies were yet to be operated upon”.

At one point, Mukherjee snubbed Kumar saying: “I came to the House to hear the leader of the Opposition (Advani), not you.” Finally, Speaker Meira Kumar had to step in to pacify the agitated members.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Advani asked the home ministry to coordinate relief and rehabilitation efforts to ameliorate the lot of Mumbaikars who were affected by the terror strikes. He said the Maharashtra government, the Central government and the Prime Minister’s Office had assured the country they would provide a humane response.
Amid cries of “shame, shame” from some members, Advani said out of 403 persons eligible for relief, only 118 had received cheques so far, and while 64 of them were eligible for railway jobs, only 32 had received offers till now.
He said 164 people were killed and 239 injured in the attacks. “But the relief was given in a slow pace,” he said, referring to the number of compensation cheques and other relief given to the victims’ families.

The home minister, Advani observed, should take the initiative to coordinate the work of agencies involved in relief and rehabilitation programmes.
“A situation should not arise like a widow coming to Delhi and saying I have not received any compensation so far,” he said. “Whenever such a tragedy occurs, we tend to forget about it after some time,” he added.

Mumbai and cities across the country paused in homage to the victims of the terror attack here on its first anniversary today marked by candlelight vigils, prayer meetings and reassuring display of security by city police.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal, Cama hospital, Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Oberoi and Trident or the modest Jewish centre in Nariman House, all silently remembered the unprecedented attack on the country’s financial capital.
Leopold Cafe where the first bullets were fired by the terrorists bustled with activity.

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