MUMBAI: US President Barack Obama today said his decision to stay in Taj Hotel is a powerful message against terrorism and demanded that the perpetrators of the horrific Mumbai attacks should be brought to justice.
Beginning his three-day maiden visit to India by paying homage to the victims of 26/11 attacks , he said he was looking forward to deepening partnership in counter-terrorism during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Accompanied by his wife Michelle, he signed the visitors’ book, looked at the plaque on which the names of 26/11 victims are engraved and delivered a six-minute speech in which he paid tributes to people of Mumbai and India hailing their resolve and resilience.
“There has been a great commentary on our decision to begin our visit here, in this dynamic city at this historic hotel. Those who have asked whether this is intended to send a message, my answer is simply absolutely,” Obama told a gathering that included kin of victims and staffers of the hotel who braved the 2008 attack.
He made a special reference to General Manager of the Hotel Karamveer Kang who continued to work at the hotel during the 60 hours of mayhem despite losing his family. “Taj is a symbol of strength of Indian people.”
Obama also talked about the role of an Indian nanny who saved the life of a toddler, who lost his Jewish parents during the attack at the Chabad House.
“We will never forget the awful images of the 26/11 attacks, the flames from Taj Hotel that lit up the skies on those four days of November, 2008,” the US President said with the Gateway of India forming the backdrop.
“We today, US and India are working together, more closely than ever to deepening counter-terrorism (cooperation), to keep our people safe,” he said, adding the two countries have been sharing intelligence to avoiding more attacks and demanding that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
In this context, he said he was looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi to deepening cooperation in counter-terrorism.