Mumbai limps back to normal as anger mounts at politicians

Other News Materials 30 November 2008 17:22 (UTC +04:00)

A day after the terrorist siege of Mumbai ended claiming over 180 lives, political heads started to roll Sunday with Home Minister Shivraj Patil resigning as the financial hub limped back to normal, dpa reported.

Patil's resignation, which was accepted by the President Pratibha Patil's office, came amid widespread anger over the government's weak stance against terrorism following the brazen attacks by militants.

As Finance Minister P Chidambaram was given additional charge of the home ministry, local news channels reported Manmohan Singh's government may call on top bureaucrats and other ministers to resign.

There was growing public anger that the ruling United Progressive Alliance was unable to stem terrorist attacks and bombings that have hit the country almost every month.

More than 400 people have been killed in bombings and attacks across seven Indian cities in 2008.

Hundreds of Mumbai'kers gathered in front of the Taj Hotel and lashed out at politicians for failing to tackle terrorism, and demanded "political accountability".

"We saw the National Security Guard (NSG), the army and the police at their best while tackling the crisis, but what were the politicians doing? Where were they in those crucial moments?" one protestor asked the IANS news agency.

Author Shoba De, a Mumbai resident, also slammed the government in a television show. "The city would not have suffered the way it has had it not been for the complete and total abrogation of duty and the kind of negligence we have seen, the kind of indifference we have seen," she said.

Sensing the public mood may cost his Congress party dearly in the general elections due in the next few months, Singh desperately sought to salvage the image of his government.

"Public anger is mounting now after the Mumbai attacks and there had to be some accountability," a senior official said referring to Patil's resignation.

The gunmen, who investigators said came from Pakistan, opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed grenades in locations in southern Mumbai, including a major railway station, a hospital and areas popular with business executives and foreign tourists.

Hundreds of people were trapped or held hostage from late Wednesday in the Taj and Oberoi-Trident hotels as well as a Jewish centre which were taken over by militants.

The siege of the city ended after 59 hours of gunbattles when Indian commandos killed the last three of the 10 terrorists at the Taj Hotel. A total of 183 people were killed and 239 wounded.

The victims included 22 foreigners including victims from Israel, Germany, Japan, United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, France, Italy, Singapore and Japan.

Mumbai meanwhile was limping back to normal on Sunday. Shops and other establishments reopened after three days, but the shadow of terrorism still hung over the metropolis.

Residents said they were trying to avoid crowded places such as shopping malls and cinema theatres and roads leading to the two hotels remained sealed.

Buses and suburban trains resumed operations in the southern parts of the city. Police were still deployed in huge numbers as investigators continued probing who was behind the attack.

A previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks, the deadliest in Mumbai since 1993 when a series of bombings killed over 250 people and wounded 700.

Indian security agencies suspected Pakistan-based militant groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba. One of the militants who was captured was identified as Azam Amir Kasab from Faridkot in Pakistan and admitted to being a member of the LeT.

The audacious attack could jeopardize New Delhi's ties with Pakistan after the Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee claimed the attackers had Pakistani links.

Islamabad was quick to deny the charge and offered full cooperation with India in its investigations.