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Parliament attack could have been worse than 9/11: Advani

By Onkar Singh
December 13, 2011 13:40 IST
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Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs of December 13, 2001, terrorist attack on Parliament.

The function was held at the Parliament complex on Tuesday. Sonia Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress, Speaker Lok Sabha Meira Kumar, Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, were among the prominent politicians who paid homage to those who laid down their lives while trying to save the temple of democracy.

A number of senior politicians recalled the ghastly incident and the heroic deeds of the deceased guarding the Parliament.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani, who was the then home minister of India, told that he was inside his office when the attack took place. "I heard sound of gun shots and decided to investigate the source of the noise when one of the watch and ward security personnel asked me to go back to the room as terrorists had attacked the Parliament. Had the security personnel not taken preventive measures and closed the doors of the Parliament complex, the terrorists would have managed to sneak in. It would have been a greater tragedy then 9/11 attack on USA," he said.

Another BJP leader, Rajeev Pratap Rudy, who was with Advani at the time of attack said, "The minute Advaniji was told it was a terrorist attack he started talking to the people who needed to be alerted. He had taken charge of protecting the Parliament. All the terrorists were killed on the spot by the security personnel."

Veteran Communist Party of Indian (Marxist) leader Basudev Acherya, who had left for Parliament annexe minutes before the attack had just reached its entrance when he heard gun shots and grenades exploding. "I rushed back some distance and watched the pitched battle between the security persons and the terrorists. The armed intruders kept on running from one gate to the other looking for an open door to enter the Parliament but they found none. The security personnel including the vice president's security staff killed all the terrorists," he said.

Nazma Heptullah, former deputy chairperson of Rajya Sabha, was speaking to television networks when a grenade exploded. Heptullah ran for cover despite being 500 feet away from the place of occurrence.

Jaswant Singh, then foreign minister, was sitting with the late vice president of India Krishan Kant when terrorists broke the security cordon and entered the Parliament complex. "I heard gun shots and explosions and was sure it was not crackers. My apprehension was confirmed by the watch and ward security personnel who told me that it was a terrorist attack. I heaved a sigh of relief," said the former officer of the Indian army.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi