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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Mumbai marks a grim anniversary
By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai

Bombed train in Mumbai in July
The chaos of the blast was only temporary
India's commercial capital, Mumbai (Bombay), has been observing the first anniversary of the serial bomb blasts on commuter trains which killed 187 people and wounded more than 700 others.

The railway authorities repaired and relaunched one of the seven train coaches which were badly damaged by the blasts.

Their aim was to send out a strong message of defiance and resilience.

Government employee Ashok Singhal was the lone survivor in his coach.

"I can't wait to travel on the same seat of the same coach in which I was travelling on that fateful day," he told the BBC.

His spirits are high and his resolve is firm - like thousands of others who recovered remarkably quickly from the death and devastation of last year.


Mumbai displayed a collective show of strength to shrug off the tragedy.

 Jyoti Shinde
Mumbai is not safe. The security is only in name
Commuter Jyoti Shinde

This was summed up by a struggling Bollywood music composer, Sanjeev Kohli, who penned a moving reply to the bombers in a song which was sung by 20 singers.

"You cannot tame us by terror. You'll see courageous Mumbai will again run on its tracks," went the chorus line.

The city's resilience in getting back on its feet after the 2003 twin bomb blasts is remarkable. In eight hours the trains were running on the same tracks on which charred bodies and mangled pieces of the bombed coaches were lying scattered.

On the surface everything seems normal now.

Dinesh Singh, father of one of the survivors, says the memory of the bombings looks distant to most people. But his remarks are tinged with a sense of injustice.

His 21-year-old son, Amit Singh, is one of the two injured commuters still in a coma.

"All I want is that my son opens his eyes again and walks again," he said.

'Deafening sound'

There are many others, who like Mr Singh, for whom the tragedy is far from over.

Ashok Singhal has been waiting to make what he sees as a defiant journey on 11 July, but he is yet to get over the shock.

"Even now whenever I can't fall asleep at night the deafening sound of the blast pierces my ear drums. At times I feel my head will explode," he said.

Bandra Railway station
The railways have rapidly returned to normal

The other lasting impact of the blast is that Mr Singhal is now nearly deaf.

Daily commuter Anantha believes that if there are more attacks, people in Mumbai will once again have no choice but to get on with normal life.

"It's not a question of resilience," she said, "it's a lack of options. The commuter trains are Mumbai's lifeline. It's the cheapest and quickest means of travel in the city. We have to use it every day."

Her friend, Jyoti Shinde, agrees: "Mumbai is not safe. The security is only in name. Even if we have another tragedy of that scale we have no option but to continue to travel by trains."

The security on trains and at railway stations is the responsibility of railway department officials. But people seem to have little confidence in them.

Mumbai's former police commissioner Amarjeet Singh Samra says the railway police need to be better trained.

"Railway policing is a weak area," he said. "We need to develop high-class vigilance and intelligence to keep the trains and stations safe. We need the same kind of security in trains and stations that we see at airports."

PK Raghuvanshi
If we concede one goal it's taken as our defeat
KP Raghuvanshi, Maharashtra anti-terrorism chief

But the railway authorities say monitoring and frisking five million commuters every day is impossible. The closed circuit television cameras fitted in some stations since last year's bombings are one of the few measures the railway authorities have taken so far.

KP Raghuvanshi, chief of Maharashtra state's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), says that complete safety cannot be guaranteed.

Indeed, just a few weeks after the train blasts, two bombs went off outside a mosque in the town of Malegaon.

The ATS believes the two sets of bombings were carried out by the same group, linked to the Pakistani-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

"It's like a game of football. We save 99 goals which no one gets to know of. But if we concede one goal it's taken as our defeat," said Mr Raghuvanshi.

He says that his unit keeps tabs on sleeper cells, but adds: "We can only pounce on them once we know they have broken the law.

"The Indian government has passed on the proof of their (LeT) involvement to its Pakistani counterpart. But they have kept quiet about it. My investigations have found their involvement."

Pakistan rejects the allegations and says India produced no evidence of Pakistani involvement in the attacks.

The ATS has brought charges against 13 people, even though more than 300 suspects were initially detained. Fourteen others are still wanted, nine of them, says Mr Raghuvanshi, are Pakistanis.

Court proceedings against them are due to begin at the end of this month.

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