The Indian community abroad on Thursday reacted with 'shock' and 'disbelief' to the audacious terror strike in Mumbai, voicing concern that it will hit the country economically and demanding strong measures by the government to combat terrorism.
Indian diaspora members were glued to their TV sets as the terrible events unfolded overnight. Many of them, with relatives and friends in Mumbai, were making frantic calls and checking on the internet for latest information.
Control room in Delhi to answer queries: As a large number of foreigners and overseas Indians remained stuck in Mumbai, with many believed trapped inside the luxury hotels that were taken over by terrorists, the Union external affairs ministry opened a control room in New Delhi to answer queries from abroad.
The Indian High Commission in London opened a 24-hour helpline while the Indian consulate in Dubai set up a hotline to assist relatives and friends of those in Mumbai.
Strongly condemning the 'heartless acts' of terrorism, the US-based Indian National Overseas Congress called on the government to deal firmly with terrorists, their sponsors and financiers.
Expressing 'shock' over the attacks, chairman of American Indians for Democracy, Sant Singh Chatwal, said they were apparently aimed at frightening foreign investors from going to India in general and the commercial capital in particular.
Calling for strong measures, he said it is time for the international community to put its act together to fight terrorism as it could happen anywhere.
Several Indian American Muslim leaders strongly condemned the 'cowardly' terrorist attacks in Mumbai, saying the strikes constitute a crime against humanity.
Demanding that the perpetrators be brought to justice at the earliest, the leaders appealed to the Indians to stay united and foil the 'evil designs' of terrorists whose main aim, they said, is to fanthe flames of 'discord and hatred'.
The signatories included Shahid Ali Khan of Indian Minorities Advocacy Network, Manzoor Ghori of Indian Muslim Relief and Charities, Khursheed Mallick of American Muslim Physicians of Indian Origin and several community leaders.
In Britain, religious groups, leading politicians and people of Indian origin condemned the attacks.
"India continues to sacrifice innocent lives to religious terrorists often supported by Islamic groups in Pakistan," Ramesh Kallidai, the secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said. He favoured better coordination between Indian and British intelligence agencies to tackle terrorism.
In Dubai, there was a sense of shock and disbelief among the large Indian community.
Dismayed over loss of innocent lives, K V Shamsudhin of Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust said "It is sad that so many young people are being motivated to carryout such activities."
Melbourne-based NRI Anil Garyali, who came home early from office to watch the dramatic events on TV, said it was 'scary and sad' to see the city being attacked in such a way. Ria d'Souza, another Indian in Australia, said she was busy calling her relatives in Mumbai. "I am shaken," she said.
One Australian was killed in the attacks while a number of others were unaccounted for. Media reports said two of 13 members of a New South Wales trade delegation were missing.
The New Zealand Indian Association said 50 families are visiting Mumbai at present, but none are reported injured.
Hundreds of people gathered at temples and gurudwaras in Canada to pray for the families of the victims.
Amar Erry, president of Vedic Cultural Centre who moved to Canada from New Delhi about 35 years ago, said it was a 'terrible, terrible shock' to the community.