The United Nations has dedicated a solidarity tree in remembrance of victims of terrorism with a solemn ceremony that also honoured victims of the 2008 Mumbai attack, on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the world organisation.
As the third United Nations Counter-Terrorism Week, a biennial gathering of Member States and international counter-terrorism partners, kicked off in New York on Monday, the UN held a sombre dedication ceremony for the United Nations Victims of Terrorism Solidarity Tree.
The solidarity tree is planted on the Northeast Lawn of the UN headquarters right behind the bust of Mahatma Gandhi, which was a gift of India to the UN and installed during India's Presidency of the Security Council in December 2022.
The dedication ceremony came on the eve of Prime Minister Modi's visit to the UN headquarters for the International Yoga Day which will be commemorated on June 21.
In a historic commemoration, Modi will lead the yoga session at UN Headquarters on the 9th International Day of Yoga.
At the dedication ceremony, Karambir Kang, a survivor of the horrific 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, spoke about the harrowing tragedy that unfolded when 10 Pakistani terrorists of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba unleashed mayhem and horror by attacking 'establishments which were a symbol of my country and my city' and killed over 166 people.
Kang, who was General Manager of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai when the 26/11 terror attack occurred, lost his wife and two sons in the barbaric attack.
"During the attack, my wife and two young sons, who were at the hotel could not be saved. In an instant, my whole world fell apart," Kang, who was invited by the UN to share his perspective, said.
He underlined that 'terrorism is borderless' and 'so should be the resolve amongst all peace-loving nations to eradicate it. This can only happen with trust and cooperation'.
He recounted that on the evening of the attack, there were 2,000 people at the Taj hotel, including 400 of his 'very brave staff members. In the ensuing mayhem that continued for three days, we lost over 30 lives of our guests and staff members'.
Kang and his staff, with the help of a few local policemen, were able to save over 1,900 lives that night before help came.
'The bravery of my staff members garnered worldwide acclaim for standing their ground unarmed against heavily armed terrorists. The solidarity that we received at the Taj and the Tata Group' following the tragedy was 'unprecedented' both nationally and worldwide.
The UN said that the solidarity tree honours victims of terrorism around the world and symbolises the resolve of the international community to prevent and counter violent extremism and terrorism through a permanent symbol of remembrance at the UN headquarters.
Kang said the solidarity tree is a 'true symbol of remembrance and resolve so that we never forget what happened. It is also a symbol of the human value that makes you rise by lifting others. I truly believe that with solidarity and unity, we are no longer victims but become stronger together to face any adversity'.
Kang also laid foundational soil at the base of the solidarity tree. Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Praveen Vashista laid a rose at the foot of the memorial tree.
The dedication ceremony of the United Nations Victims of Terrorism Solidarity Tree was organised by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, in collaboration with the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism.
The United Nations Victims of Terrorism Solidarity Tree will honour victims of terrorism around the world through a permanent symbol of remembrance located in the gardens of the United Nations Headquarters.