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'26/11 was an assault on the very idea of India'

November 25, 2009 23:30 IST

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has said that the country has learnt many hard lessons from Mumbai terror strikes and emerged stronger.

In a statement on the eve of the first anniversary of the 26/11 terror attack, Gandhi said it was "an assault on the very idea of India".

"We have learnt many hard lessons from the tragedy of 26/11. But, we have also learnt that no terrorist attack will ever be able to hit at the spirit of Mumbai and its people. If that was the aim of the terrorists, they miserably failed... If the terrorists were seeking to divide our nation, create chaos and divert us from our chosen path, they miscalculated totally. India has emerged stronger," Gandhi said.

She described the siege by the terrorists as "a brutal and wanton assault on innocent men, women and children... an assault on a city and its spirit of vitality and enterprise, its rich pluralistic culture. It was an assault on the very idea of India".

Paying homage to the dead and empathising with their loved ones, she said she salutes the "indomitable spirit of the people of India."

"We have seen the courage, resilience and determination with which Mumbaikars have resumed their lives."

Gandhi said the country continues to draw strength and inspiration from the heroism and humanity displayed by so many ordinary citizens, who risked their lives to save others.

While recalling that a year has passed since the attack, she spoke of the "rich pluralistic culture" of the city where people of different faiths live and work in harmony.

Gandhi also recalled the "selfless and untiring dedication" with which doctors, nurses, fire brigade and ambulance services worked to bring succor to the wounded and traumatized.

"We salute the memory of all those, who perished during those 50 terrible hours --  the unsuspecting victims whom destiny had placed on the path of terrorist bullets, the brave officers and men of the Mumbai police, the National Security Guard personnel called upon to do their duty and the hotel staffs, who died as they tried to shelter their guests," Gandhi said.

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