TO mark 10 years since the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, The Indian Express will on Monday host the third edition of 26/11 Stories of Strength, a continuing initiative to honour survivors and their families, and to recount their stories of resilience in the face of grief and loss.
Presented by Facebook, the founding partner of the initiative, driven by Maruti Suzuki and powered by Viacom 18, ‘26/11 Stories of Strength’ will be telecast 6 pm onwards from the Gateway of India on Monday. Directed by Feroz Abbas Khan, the event will feature a rare performance by actor Amitabh Bachchan, and speeches by chief guest Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Since 2016, The Indian Express 26/11 Stories of Strength project has sought to give voice to the inspiring stories of over 70 survivors, who have been interviewed by The Indian Express’s Mumbai bureau. On Monday, among those who will share their stories of overcoming anger and fear and inspiring courage at the Stories of Strength event will be Mumbai Police Constable Arun Jadhav, slain NSG Commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s father K Unnikrishnan, and Shruti Kamble, whose husband was fatally wounded while helping guests to safety at the Taj Mahal Hotel, where he was a staffer.
Underlining the intention behind the project, Anant Goenka, Executive Director of the Indian Express Group, said, “In our country, we tend not to take the time to remember. For India’s millennials, 26/11 was one of the most horrific acts of violence that they have witnessed. We intend to use this day to remind ourselves of what Amitabhji said last year: that we shouldn’t define ourselves by what we are against, but by what we are for. And what we must be for, is each other.”
The event will also see the release of 26/11 Stories of Strength, a book edited by The Indian Express Associate Editor Kavitha Iyer and published by Penguin Random House India. It is an evocative compilation of accounts of the survivors’ personal histories and struggles over the last 10 years. The first copy of the book was presented to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who wrote in his note, “India’s thousand-year-old tradition of tolerance and philosophy of ahimsa are very necessary in today’s world. With my prayers.”
On their association with the project, Ankhi Das, the Director of Public Policy for Facebook in India, said, “It’s important to remember those who lost their lives in such a horrific attack 10 years ago. Today is about those who showed bravery, courage and strength in the face of terror. I thank The Indian Express for making sure survivors and those families who lost loved ones share these stories of civic courage and resilience.”
In a message, Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said the Indian government was committed to ensuring that no terrorist organisation dares execute a similar attack. “In the past four-and-a-half years, the government has done a lot to prevent an attack of this kind. Mumbai Police has been modernised with latest weapons,” Ahir said.
Key performers at Monday’s memorial event will include Amitabh Bachchan, Javed Akhtar, Kaushiki Chakravarty, Rakesh Chaurasia, Mayuri Upadhya, Merlin D’souza, Harshdeep Kaur, Neeti Mohan, Rahul Deshpande, Mahesh Kale, Javed Ali, Ani Choying Drolma, Shivam Mahadevan, Police Band and the Navy Band.
Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and Managing Director Designate, Viacom18, said, “We are proud to partner The Indian Express Group in this initiative. 26/11 is a landmark day in the history of this city and country, both because it marks one of the worst attacks on us as a people and also because it highlights the amazing stories of sacrifice and resilience that define us as a people.”
The event produced by Wizcraft International will be live streamed across the digital properties of The Indian Express — India’s second largest digital news group — ABP News, Republic TV and big92.7fm, and broadcasted on Colors, India’s No.1 premium Hindi entertainment channel.
The event is supported by Viacom Network, led by Colors, ABP News, Republic TV, Vodafone, Centrum Foundation, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, LIC, Air India, Laqshya, Mumbai Port Trust, Mumbai Police, Prime Focus, Air India.