MUMBAI, India – Black-clad commandos rappelled down a building and Mumbai's police showed off their new gear Thursday in what was intended as a reassuring display of force a year after a terror attack across the city killed 166 people.
Activists fear the security upgrades are not enough to prevent a repeat of the attack that laid siege to luxury hotels, turned a train station into a scene of carnage and paralyzed India's commercial heart for 60 hours.
The anniversary of the attack was commemorated across India with somber ceremonies, candlelight vigils and remembrances for those killed.
Ten Pakistan-based gunmen arrived by boat Nov. 26, 2008 and hit targets across the city as India's police and military struggled for nearly three days to regain control. Seven men were charged in Pakistan on Wednesday with links to the assault.
On Thursday, about 100 beds were set up at the Chatrapati Shivaji train terminal, where 58 died and 104 were injured, for a blood donation drive organized by railway authorities and private groups.
Police, who were criticized for being poorly trained and underarmed, used the anniversary to exhibit their upgraded equipment — part of Mumbai's $27.7 million plan to beef up security.
A fleet of new camouflaged armored vehicles and rapid intervention vehicles manned by commandos with guns drawn made its way down Marine Drive, site of the attacked Taj Mahal hotel, as a marching band played. Seven companies of commandos and police officers marched out onto the adjacent sandy beach.
A shrine to Tukaram Ombale, a police officer who died as he helped capture the lone surviving gunman, Ajmal Kasab, was decorated with wreaths and garlands and a large photo was put up at the corner where he died.
As commandos rappelled down the side of a building in downtown Mumbai, Radha Vasant, an 18-year-old student, called the parade "amazing."
"You could feel the loss," she said. "Now they are going to do something for Mumbai."
Mumbai's new Force One commando unit, an elite anti-terror brigade of more than 200 men, was inaugurated Tuesday. But not everyone is satisfied with the security upgrades.
A handful of people from a citizens' group gathered outside the Taj Mahal hotel Wednesday evening to urge further police reform. They lit candles and chanted a patriotic song before a flank of flashing cameras.
"The tragedy took place precisely because the police miserably failed in its duties," said Shukla Sen, a member of the Citizens' Initiative for Peace, formed last December. "The functioning of the police must improve."
Religious leaders and diplomats gathered Wednesday evening for a memorial service held at the Keneseth Eliyahoo synagogue. A dozen policemen guarded the street outside.
"We will not let the terrorists deter us," said Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, who is in charge of rebuilding the Chabad House, a Jewish center run by the orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement, where six people were killed. "We will continue with the full faith in God that he will protect us."
Diplomats from Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Italy and the U.S. lit candles in memory of people from their countries who died. Muslim, Christian and Parsi leaders from India lit candles in memory of the Indian dead.
Tal Abraham, 78, a Jewish Indian who has lived in Israel for 49 years, said he came to the city especially for the commemoration. "I'm too sad," he said.
Five young Indian men who studied under Gavriel Holtzberg, the rabbi at Chabad House who was killed along with his pregnant wife, also attended.
"He guided us on how to live as a Jew," said Daniel Pezarkar, 21. "Now nobody does."