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26/11: Tributes paid on 4th anniversary

Union ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde and Sharad Pawar lay wreaths at the police memorial in South Mumbai

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Mumbai's sorrow was tinged with some relief as solemn tributes were paid to the victims and of the 26/11 terror attacks on its fourth anniversary, five days after the sole surviving perpetrator was sent to the gallows.

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde led Mumbaikars in paying homage to the police personnel who laid down their lives in the line of duty at the Martyrs Memorial at Marine Lines.

Shinde's cabinet colleague Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Home Minister R R Patil, Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh and family members of victims and heroes, also paid floral tributes to those felled during the three day siege that brought the city to its knees on November 26, 2008.

18 policemen including Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare had made the supreme sacrifice, gallantly fighting Kasab and his band of nine other LeT terrorists, indoctrinated and trained in Pakistan.

There was no uncontrolled outburst of emotions, no photographs of martyred policemen peering down from massive hoardings in bustling streets and no smart parade by the anti-terror force.

Though Kasab's hanging at Yerawada prison in Pune came as a welcome relief for the average Mumbaikar, who felt justice had been finally done, there was a sense of unmitigated loss among the family members of the martyred policemen.

"My husband or Divya's father will not come back with the hanging of Kasab," said Kavita Karkare, wife of Hemant Karkare.

She felt the city continued to be unsafe, four years after the brazen attacks that left 166 dead and many more wounded and maimed for life.

"I think the battle (against terror) has just begun. I feel Mumbai is still unsafe. There have been bomb blasts in Mumbai and Pune even after 26/11," she said.

When asked if Kasab's hanging had brought a closure of sorts for the victims' families, Divya Salaskar, daughter of encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar, said, "Closure is a big word. I don't think closure is going to happen any time. Closure is when you are entirely satisfied that justice has been done." 

Meanwhile, security has been stepped up in the metropolis after Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan warned of mounting attacks "in India and anywhere" to avenge Kasab's hanging.

Vital establishments, including airports and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), are also under tight vigil after the threat.

166 people were killed when Kasab and nine of his aides unleashed terror on the country's financial capital four years ago.

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