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New York remembers Mumbai victims

George Joseph | November 28, 2008 12:24 IST
Last Updated: November 28, 2008 12:26 IST

In a rare gesture of solidarity with the Indian Americans, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and a few other officials came to the Ganesh Temple in Flushing, Queens to participate in a memorial service for the victims of terror attacks in Mumbai.


Over a 100 people attended the service which began with prayers by five pandits. It began with a prayer to Lord Ganesha [Images], the destroyer of all obstacles. It continued with shanty mantra, and dhanvantari mantra, Dr Uma Mysorekar, president of the president of the Hindu Temple Society, said.

It was the first time the mayor visited the temple and that too on a very busy Thanksgiving Day, she said. "It means a lot to the community,' she said.

The mayor condoled the deaths and expressed his sympathy for the Indians in the US. "We should be united against schemes of the terrorists," he said and asked for an international movement to fight the menace.

Bloomberg said his company has offices in Mumbai and all the employees are safe there.

In a statement earlier, he said, the 'horrific series of attacks in Mumbai, reminded us that there remain dark forces in the world that think killing innocents is a way to advance an agenda.

"New York is in many ways similar to Mumbai: it is a wonderfully diverse city that is a leading center for business, education, science and the arts."

He also noted the potential threat of terrorism in New York especially the subways. He said adequate steps were taken as precaution.

"My hearts goes to the departed and the injured. In such troubled times, our spirituality is the only consolation and I pray to God for the courage to withstand this calamity," Mysoekar said.

Community leaders and organizations condemned the violence and pledged their full support for the government action against the terrorists.

Congressman Joseph Crowley (Democart-Queens, the Bronx, New York) said: "As we have seen over the last 24 hours, terrorism is not a threat to the West alone. This horrific event serves as a wake up call to the global community. We need to come together to fight terrorism at its root -- poverty and autocratic rule. We need to expand international anti-terrorism cooperation, humanitarian efforts and the promotion of democracy world-wide."

Congressman Ed Royce (Republican-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism [Images], Nonproliferation and Trade, said: "It is often said that India and America have a natural bond as the two largest democracies. Today, we share a bond of a common enemy: what the 9/11 Commission identified as Islamist terrorism. Islamist ideology is spreading across South Asia, and must be stamped out. I am confident in the aftermath of these attacks, we will see all the resilience that is embodied in the Indian people."

Royce served as the Co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans in the 107th Congress and has visited Mumbai on a number of occasions.

Indian-American leaders condemn

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) expressed outrage over the savage terror attacks. The Foundation called for calm and restraint while demanding that the Maharashtra state government and India's central governments take emergency measures to halt further attacks and bring the terrorists to justice.

"Like 911, this attack was on India's financial capital. It is our hope that the international community and the Indian government will wake-up to the reality of terrorists in their midst and take immediate steps to ensure security for its people" Suhag Shukla, the Foundation's Managing Director and Legal Counsel, said.

Several Muslim leaders called the attack a crime against humanity. "We appeal to all Indians to stay united and foil the evil designs of the terrorists whose main objective is to fan the flames of discord and hatred. We urge the parties not to exploit these terrorist acts for political purposes� We stand in solidarity with the family of Anti Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare [Images] who was courageously heading the inquiry against the recent Malegaon bomb blasts."

The signatories included Dr. Shahid Ali Khan, Indian Minorities Advocacy Network, Manzoor Ghori, Indian Muslim Relief and Charities, Dr. Khursheed Mallick, American Muslim Physicians of Indian Origin (AMPI), Dr. Shaik Ubaid, New York, Saeed Patel, New Jersey, and Dr. Syed S. Ahmed, Chicago among others.

Rasheed Ahmed, President of Indian Muslim Council-USA said, "More than two dozen terrorists seem to have let loose a string of blasts and shootings in different locations; a coordinated attack on this scale with the number of people involved points to a major failure on the part of the intelligence agencies. The perpetrators of these crimes against humanity should be captured and punished to the maximum extent of the law."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad: "We condemn these cowardly attacks and demand that all hostages taken by the attackers be released immediately and unconditionally. We offer sincere condolences to the loved ones of those killed or injured in these senseless and inexcusable acts of violence against innocent civilians. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens of all faiths in repudiating acts of terror wherever they take place and whomever they target."

The CAIR also asked the Indian government to protect all its citizens from the type of retaliatory attacks that have taken place following similar incidents in the recent past.

NRI's for Secular and Harmonious India: "These cowardly attacks are an attack on all Indians. We, along with all wise and peaceful people of India, appeal to the brave people of Mumbai to remain calm and united during this national crisis. Terrorism is a crime against humanity, we must wipe out this menace from the face of the earth."

Association for India's Development (AID): In this shocking time we pray for peace, calm and safety. This situation calls for the residents of Mumbai and elsewhere in India to stay in solidarity with one another, and to demonstrate unity and harmony across religious and regional divides.

The United States Hindu Alliance, Atlanta: It is time for India to punish those who are already convicted of terrorist acts, create strong and effective anti-terror laws at the national level, increase resources available for law enforcement bodies to combat terror, and pursue the bases of terrorists in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Dr Sawraj Singh, chairman, Washington State Network for Human Rights and chairman, Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice asked India to revive secularism and Non-Alignment.

"In view of the increasing number of terrorist attacks, India should review its domestic and foreign policies. The underlying principle of unity in India has always been "Unity in Diversity."

"India's policy of secularism and non-alignment was compatible with the fundamental principles of Indian philosophy and value system. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, India gradually moved away from its traditional non-alignment and started tilting towards the West. By aligning with the West, India has been drawn into an anti-Islamic alliance. The perception that India is pro-Western and anti-Islamic is the fundamental cause for the rise of religious fanaticism in India. The Islamic fundamentalists see India aligned with America and Israel, their main enemies. However, the rise of Islamic fanaticism promotes retaliatory Hindu fanaticism. This vicious cycle can only be broken by India reviving its secular and non-aligned policies."

"My outrage is directed equally at the terrorist as it is to the authorities in India who have the responsibility of protecting the people. Despite being the target of repeated terrorist attacks in the recent past, why was there not adequate levels of protection for obvious targets like hotels, train stations and places of worship? How did the terrorist sneak in by sea in boats, as has been reported in the media, without the Navy or Cost Guard or the local police knowing about it," Suresh Kumar, CEO of NJ based NexAge Technologies and a Republican activist, said.

"While it is naive to assume that America is totally safe, at least the country has learned its lessons from the 911 disaster. It is not a coincidence that there has not been a single terrorist attack in the US since 911. Sure there are costs and inconveniences that Americans face such as delays in Airports, reduced levels of privacy and more spending for national security; but these are the cost to safeguard freedom."

"The attack in Mumbai is an Indian version of September 11 attack and it reminds us that all cities in the world are vulnerable when it comes to terrorism," Alpa Patel of  Jersey City, New Jersey, noted.






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