New York: Perpetrators of the ‘ghastly’ 26/11 Mumbai attacks must be brought to justice by Pakistan, India’s Consul General in New York Randhir Jaiswal said, emphasising that combating terrorism requires strong global cooperation as he, along with top Israeli diplomats, paid homage to the victims of the 2008 terror strike.
November 26 marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
“It is important for the world and the global community, for us and for justice that those responsible are brought to book. Pakistan must do what is required to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice,” Jaiswal said, addressing a virtual commemoration event on Wednesday.
Ten terrorists of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) carried out 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai. At least 166 people, including six Jews and nine terrorists, were killed and over 300 others were injured in the attacks which began on November 26, 2008.
At the event organised by The American India Public Affairs Committee and American Jewish Committee, Jaiswal described the 26/11 attacks as a “ghastly attack unknown in the annals of history”. He said terrorism is one of the greatest threats confronting the world.
“As in the (time of) COVID19, the world has come together to fight this pandemic, we must all come together to fight terrorism, a global problem, tooth and nail. Let us remember on this occasion those who fell to the barbaric and bloody bullets of insanity and inhumanity. And those who sacrificed life to save our tomorrow, to save our today,” he said.
Israel Nitzan, Acting Consul General of Israel in New York, said his country was “shocked” by the “barbaric terrorist attacks” carried out against innocent Indian civilians and foreign tourists across Mumbai in November 2008.
He stressed that India, the US and Israel share democratic values and deep bonds based on shared experiences. “This horrific attack in Mumbai, with its tragic outcome, only strengthens us and strengthens our deep bond and friendship,” Nitzan said.
Nitzan said India, the US and Israel know what terrorism is all about and added that the objective of the attack in Mumbai, as well as attacks in New York and Israel, is to cripple the economy, society and its vivid and wonderful culture.
“And they (terrorists) failed. The attack is also a lesson about our resiliency, that we will not allow terrorism to break us. Despite the devastating results of this attack, the Indian economy has continued to grow stronger, its society is resilient, its culture remains invincible,” and the relations with Israel grows stronger, he said.
“We will not allow hate to prevail,” Nitzan said, adding that the presence of the Chabad House in Mumbai, which also came under attack on 26/11, is a testimony to the tolerance and the acceptance of other traditions, beliefs and the pluralism of Indian society.
“The attack on the Chabad House, like other anti-semitic attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions around the world, will not prevail. They will fail and terrorism will only push us to unite and to fight together against terrorism and hatred,” he said.
Nitzan said Israel, India and the US have an “extraordinary cooperation” in counterterrorism and fighting hate and radicalism. “Hate only brings us together. Hate is actually leading us to strengthen our cooperation together in order not only to fight hatred but also to work to make this world a better place. We’re much stronger than hate,” he said.
India’s Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha said 12 years after the heinous attacks, “the perpetrators of this ghastly attack are still roaming free”.
“Acts of terror not only violate the right of life of the individual who suffers these attacks. There are families whose rights are also violated. Unfortunately, victims of the attacks are also suffering today because their right to get justice has also been violated,” he said.
Jaiswal said terrorism needs a very strong global cooperation and called on the international community to ensure that the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which India sponsored at the United Nations, is adopted at the earliest.
He stressed that in India’s international engagement with the United States and Israel, as well as with many countries, counterterrorism cooperation is an important element and New Delhi will continue to strengthen it.
Sinha also shared profiles of a few individuals and foreign nationals who lost their lives in the Mumbai attacks. Among them were Rabbi Gavriel and his wife Rivka, who was five months pregnant at the time, who were killed when the Pakistani terrorists stormed Nariman House. The couple’s son Moshe Holtzberg was saved by his Indian caregiver Sandra Samuel.
Prominent community leader and President of the American India Public Affairs Committee Jagdish Sewhani said Pakistan today is more isolated than ever. He asserted that the war against terrorism has to be won.
Sewhani said the perpetrators of Mumbai terrorist attack continue to roam freely in Pakistan and called on the Jewish community to press upon the incoming Biden administration to not restore financial aid to Pakistan — the “epicentre of terrorism”.
He expressed confidence that the Biden administration will continue to stand with India in the fight against terrorism and ensure there is zero tolerance towards terrorism.