Mumbai attacks survivors preach forgiveness

On the third anniversary of the start of the deadly attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that left 165 people dead, the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan reports on some of the survivors who are preaching forgiveness in a newly published book.

The Mumbai 25 – as they were known – were in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 as part of a meditation retreat.

Two members of the group were killed in the attacks, but the survivors hope that showing compassion will bring something good from a terrible tragedy.

It was a last-minute cancellation that led Linda Ragsdale to travel from the US to Mumbai in November 2008.

She …

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Metal detectors, scanners at ‘gateless’ gate

The “gateless gates”, as Osho Rajneesh had chosen to describe the entry points to the famous Osho International Meditation Resort in the city, sported metal detectors and scanners ahead of the 79th birth anniversary of the spiritual guru.

December 11 is Osho’s birth anniversary. A week ago, on December 5, the meditation centre inaugurated its new gate in keeping with enhanced security requirements at the meditation resort, which has distinct entry and exit points, following the German Bakery blast and the discovery that David Headley had visited the commune twice, apparently to target it later.

The gate has a high-end metal detector. There is also a reception desk at the entry point covered with steel rods on three sides.

Amrit Sadhana, a management team member at the commune, said that after the bakery blast, the authorities had issued an advisory to tighten security and the new gate is in keeping with the instructions.

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As to why the commune was bereft of any special celebrations, Osho’s birth anniversary on Saturday, she said, “Each day is special for us and we celebrate every day.” Commenting on the years when the centre used to witness a series of events and artistes performed, Sadhana said, “It’s past and gone. Osho asked us not to live in the past, move on.”

Along with the new entrance, the centre has come up with a multimedia gallery, also launched last Sunday. The gallery houses lectures of Osho in print, audio and visual form.

Apart from 650 books in Hindi and English, the gallery has 4,000 audio CDs. “Plus we two newly introduced programmes. The first being Festival of Osho organised thrice a year, in monsoon, winter and spring and the second is the new meditation week held every second week of the month,” added Sadhana. Nirmala Savadekar, a freelance photographer, added “We don’t really believe in his birth and death. For me, he is alive everyday. I am just so glad that I am his follower.” On his plans for Saturday, he said, “I will like to be with some other like-minded followers who share the same sentiment for Osho.”

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26/11: Survivors return with forgiveness in heart

The last time US-based spiritual guru Charles Cannon and his followers were in Mumbai for a meditation programme at the Trident, they were “rudely interrupted by violent fundamentalism”.

Two years later Cannon is back to the city he “loves and remembers” along with 12 of his disciples who lived to tell the terrible tale of 26/11.

The group, which has been advocating the “rehabilitation and education” of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab instead of the death penalty, will hold a commemorative event at the Trident on Friday. They will also be launching the Indian chapter of One Life Alliance, a non-profit organisation that “responds with compassion to acts of terror”.

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Virginia mother and wife of Mumbai victims seeks to help children in conflict areas

Virginia resident Kia Scherr walked quietly through the jasmine-scented halls of Mumbai’s Oberoi Trident high-rise hotel as Indian staff members gently smiled.

On Nov. 26, 2008, her husband, Alan Scherr, 58, and their 13-year-old daughter Naomi were killed when gunmen opened fire in the hotel’s oceanfront restaurant. The Scherrs were among six Americans killed in the Mumbai attacks, which left 166 people dead and more than 230 wounded.

Now Kia Scherr has come to India to meet President Obama during his three-day visit to Mumbai and New Delhi. She said she wants to thank him in person for the condolence letter he wrote her after the attacks, which were carried out by 10 gunmen from Pakistan.

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