MUMBAI, Nov 27 (AFP) -India rebuked Pakistan for its failure to convict the masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai attacks as the country marked the second anniversary of the carnage that claimed 166 lives.
Both houses of India's parliament held a minute's silence on Friday to honour the victims of 60 hours of violence during which 10 Islamist gunmen attacked a host of targets including luxury hotels, a Jewish centre and the train station.
Police paraded through the city showing off new security hardware, while mourners gathered at the places where civilians were gunned down in cold blood by the heavily armed attackers.
India remains wary of further attacks by Pakistan-based militants and security measures in Mumbai were raised for the anniversary.
“In Pakistan, we have a neighbour who has not fulfilled its promise to bring the 26/11 masterminds to justice,” Home Minister P. Chidambaram said, referring to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba network, which India blames for the attacks.
“I sincerely hope that on the second anniversary of this horrific tragedy, Pakistan will realise its responsibility as a nation, as a government and fulfil its promises,” he said at a commemoration ceremony in the city.
Speaking in Sri Lanka where he is on a four-day trip, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna also stressed the need for Pakistan to tackle terror groups within its borders. “Once again I call upon Pakistan to dismantle the terror machine operating with impunity in territories under its control and to bring all the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to speedy justice,” he said.
The three-day assault on the city began when attackers arrived by sea from Pakistan on the evening of November 26 after hijacking a fishing boat, according to Indian and US intelligence.
In Pakistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi rejected the suggestion his country supported any extremist group and said Islamabad had always condemned the Mumbai attacks.
“We want good friendly relations with India. Those behind the Mumbai attacks should be punished and the government of Pakistan has been in contact with the Indian government,” he said.
Nine of the gunmen were killed and the sole survivor, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, was condemned to death by a Mumbai court in May. He is challenging the sentence.
Seven suspects in Pakistan, including alleged mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, have been put on trial in the country, but none has been convicted.
The case has since stalled, with Pakistani officials demanding Kasab be allowed to testify, which New Delhi has refused. Pakistan also wants to send a fact-finding commission to India to gather more evidence.
India sees these moves as stalling tactics and says it has handed over enough evidence to convict the accused men. Pakistan says the evidence is inadmissible in court.
The Mumbai attacks continue to dog relations between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, whose slow-moving peace process broke down after the assault. On the eve of the anniversary, India test-fired one of its medium-range nuclear-capable Agni-I missiles off its coast.
Live television footage of the Mumbai assault was broadcast around the world showing commandos battling with the militants and terrified civilians trying to escape the bloodbath. About 300 people were injured.
“We will never succumb to the designs of our enemies,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday. “We pledge to redouble our efforts to bring the perpetrators of this crime against humanity to justice.”Police officers were due to unveil a memorial to Constable Tukaram Ombale at Chowpatty beach in south Mumbai, where he lost his life as he tackled Kasab.
Earlier this month US President Barack Obama visited the city and met families of victims and survivors, as well as paying his respects at a memorial in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, which was one of the militants' prime targets.