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In Mumbai, Residents Protest Response To Attacks

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

And I'm Melissa Block. At sundown this evening in Mumbai, anyone trying to catch a glimpse of the stately Taj Mahal Hotel would have had trouble. You couldn't get close. The streets were full of people, bankers, Bollywood film directors, accountants, teachers. They were all drawn to the landmark hotel one week after attackers struck there and nearly a dozen other places nearby. NPR's Philip Reeves has our report.

PHILIP REEVES: There are so many different currents of emotion rippling through this large crowd that is gathered here on the edge of the Arabian Sea beside the Taj Mahal Hotel one week after the attacks that really shook the city of Mumbai to its core. Some here are angry against their government. Some here are angry about Pakistan and blame them. Some here are angry about the fact that their city contributes more money to the national revenues and taxes, and they feel they should be getting more back in terms of security. Some here are here to mourn the dead, and some are here to appeal for peace. Valerie Durajee(ph), a teacher, is here for personal reasons. Her nephew was among those killed at the Taj Mahal.

VALERIE DURAJEE: Gaisak Kamden(ph), he was a chef, over 26 years old, after saving people. We just attended his funeral at the towers of silence(ph). He was a well built, tall boy, but he saved someone, and his body was just thrown in the other swimming pool banquet.

MITELIE DESAI: We cannot let this go on nothing. We have to do something.

REEVES: Mitelie Desai(ph) also lost a relative.

DESAI: I lost an aunt of mine, and she - I didn't even get to see her dead body because she was ridden from top to bottom with bullets. I don't want any person who would sit there and, when there are strikes, will resign. I don't want that sort of a person. I want a person who will ensure that there is no terror strike on the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANGRY PEOPLE AT THE DEMONSTRATION)

REEVES: Just here on the side of the demonstration, there is a group of Sikhs, Sikh men with huge metal pots, and they're boiling up tea for people to refresh the people who have come here in very large numbers to demonstrate, and they're handing out the cups to the passing crowd. We're just going to go over here and try to talk to some people about why they've come here.

RAJU CRIPALANI: I'm here because I'm Indian.

REEVES: And your name is...

CRIPALANI: Raju Cripalani(ph).

REEVES: Well, let me ask you, I have to ask you again. Is this a march for war or for peace?

CRIPALANI: This is a march to show solidarity towards India being together. You will find every single religion, God's creed here participating as one united India.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD AT THE DEMONSTRATION)

REEVES: Cops and politicians are not allowed in this rally. Change starts at home. There's a huge array of different placards with different slogans on them. One says, enough is enough. One says, let's make war on politicians and politicking, and there's one over there across the sea of people that I can see that says, this is time to make Pakistan history. India believes the attacks on Mumbai were launched from Pakistan. Barrat Paric(ph), a printer, is touching a sign also about Pakistan.

BARRAT PARIC: We should cut off all the ties with Pakistan. No political ties, no to national ties, no commercial ties. We must teach them a lesson.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMONSTRATORS CHANTING)

REEVES: There are obviously lots of people here from lots of different walks of life. But people in the crowd are saying that the great bulk of the crowd is actually from the educated classes, the middle class, the people who've been doing well in this city.

PUJA GUPTA: It's the educated class. It's the young people who want to draw out our politicians today. This was tried to SMSs, through Facebooks, through...

REEVES: Have you ever seen the educated classes in India mobilize like this one?

GUPTA: No, never. This is the first time it has happened. And we are proud of it, that we can be a part of this movement.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMONSTRATORS CHANTING)

REEVES: Puja Gupta's(ph) not been on a protest before. That's true of many here. This crowd's united in anger and grief. But that's about it. They've come with many different messages. The question is this, this is Puja Gupta's first demonstration. Will it be her last? Philip Reeves, NPR News, Mumbai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.