Kasab hanged, when will govt help 26/11 victims' families?

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The government of India is elated over the execution of 26/11 gunman Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab. It is patting its own back, and celebrating the death of Kasab in the political corridors of New Delhi. Congress-led UPA government's silent jubilation to mark its triumph over terrorism by hanging the 25-year-old terrorist is nothing but a political masterstroke. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was "pleasantly" surprised by government's move had no other option but to welcome the death of the dreaded terrorist , who was abandoned by his own people in Pakistan.

And, the Aam Janata of India fell into the trap of vote-bank "politics". They unashamedly hooted, cheered, danced and burst crackers after the execution. But, few have bothered to check how the poor families of victims of Mumbai Terror Attacks 2008 are leading their lives?

Police At Taj Hotel

Stories of widows like Gangubai Sakhre, 45, and Momina Khatun, 32, who lost their husbands in 26/11 terror attacks tell the plight of poor families. After the death of their husbands, the sole bread earners, the women were forced to do menial jobs to earn their livelihood. Moreover, promises made by government are realised too late.

Khatun wants a government job, as she has to look after her four minor children. She received compensation from the government, but Khatun works as a flower vendor to earn her daily bread and butter. Khatun earns around Rs 70 everyday, which is not enough to run her house. The 32-year-old widow used the compensation money to buy a house for the family. "The compensation money did help us, but we have lost our source of income. We need something which will ensure that my children continue their study," said Khatun.

Khatun's husband Umar Shaikh was a driver. Shaikh was killed after a bomb planted in his taxi by Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists exploded.

"My husband never quarrelled or beat up anyone, not even me," sobs Sakhre. Her husband Sitaram was a porter at the Navi Mumbai's Agricultural Produce Market Committee.

Sakhre's husband was shot dead at the CST station, when he, along with 12 members of the family, was about to board a train to their native town Solapur to attend a marriage party. After Sitaram's death, the Railways provided his elder son Ganesh a job.

"Why do these attacks happen in the first place? Why can't we just have peace," asks Sakhre, tears in her eyes.

Asked these bereaving women about the hanging of Kasab, all they have to say, "We have already lost what we should not have."

"Government should first rehabilitate the family members of victims," says Khatun.

"Most of the families are still struggling to survive after the death of men, who were killed in 26/11 terror attacks. Most of the victims were the sole bread earners of their respective families. Government should first focus on providing jobs to the nearest kith and kin of the victims," said an activist.

Moreover, many were badly injured in those terror attacks that went on for almost three days in the city. Injured had spent huge sum of money in treatment, but very few have got compensation from the government.

Victims' families rue that they have to plead in front of the government for compensation. "We are not beggars. But government has no time to attend us and help us with financial benefits to treat our injured family members," rued a husband, whose wife was severely injured in the 26/11 terror attacks, and still undergoing treatment.

And, Mumbai cries for full-proof security measures

The tragedy is that in spite of 166 people being killed and over 300 injured in the terror attack, Mumbai's security apparatus continues to lie in shambles. It seems government is not at all serious to provide full proof security to India's financial hub, which is under terror radar. Why is Mumbai Police force delaying the installation of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras throughout the city. The government much-hyped project to set up 6,000 pieces of CCTV cameras (14 cameras per sq. km.) throughout Mumbai seems to be a distant dream.

The idea of installing CCTV cameras is to monitor various activities through police control rooms, and help security agencies to prepare well to counter any suspicious move.

In fact, the Ram Pradhan committee, set up to study lacunae in security response to the 26/11 attacks, had recommended the installation of CCTV cameras not only in Mumbai, but also in other cities in Maharashtra .

In the report, Pradhan, a former Chief Secretary, pointed out to defeat in command and control during the police bid to combat terrorists, specifically detailing appalling security loopholes such as the slow response of ‘Quick Response Teams' (QRTs), inertia of Flying Squads and lack of ammunition supply among other factors.

According to the authorities, the Home Department re-invited proposals in the last week of September for installing CCTVs. Moreover, ‘Force One,' constituted on the lines of the National Security Guards, after 26/11 is yet to have its own base. Critics have expressed their doubt about the preparedness of Force One to act during any terror backlash in the city.

Now, time will only tell when all the victims of 26/11 be duly compensated to lead normal lives.

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