India threatens Pakistan as Mumbai hotels reopen
India is keeping 'open' the option of a military strike on Pakistani soil even as the two hotels attacked in Mumbai reopened their doors.
By Rahul Bedi in Mumbai
Last Updated: 2:55PM GMT 21 Dec 2008
Previous1 of 2 ImagesNext A private, multi-faith ceremony "to pray for solace and a safer future in the days ahead" was held at the Trident hotel. Photo: AP
Over 1,000 guests including leading businessmen and celebrities attended a private reception before the reopening of the Taj Mahal hotel Photo: REUTERS
As the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and the nearby Trident-Oberoi invited guests through their doors following the attacks that killed more than 170 people, the Indian government made clear that it held Pakistan responsible.
"Terrorism remains a scourge for our region. If a country [Pakistan] cannot keep the assurances that it has given, then it obliges us to consider the entire range of options that exist to protect our interests and people from this menace," said Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian foreign minister.
Mr Mukherjee and the defence minister A K Antony met India's three service chiefs and senior security officials on Saturday to consider all possible scenarios against their nuclear rival and neighbour, which they believe has given shelter to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamist group accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks.
Guests have already begun to trickle into the Trident, with about 100 of the 550 rooms booked and all four restaurants operational for the first full day of business in just over three weeks.
Earlier a private, multi-faith ceremony "to pray for solace and a safer future in the days ahead" was held at the hotel.
At the Taj over 1,000 guests including leading businessmen and celebrities attended a private reception before the reopening of 268 rooms and seven restaurants in the 105-year old waterfront hotel, which is a landmark in India's commercial capital.
The owners have vowed to restore the Taj to its former glory after it was ravaged by fire, bullets and grenades as gunmen fought commandos in a battle lasting almost three days.
Meanwhile, the BBC reported that guests trapped in the Taj when the violence erupted on Nov 26 were shot and killed by the gunmen after police said it was safe for them to leave.
"I was a little suspicious that the police were actually sending these guys down a different route where the terrorists were supposed to be," said Dr Prashant Mangeshikar, who was trapped in the hotel along with hundreds of other guests.
"I refused to move away and the people who ran ahead of me, about 20 or 30 of them, all of them died," he said.
The Mumbai police have denied the claim.