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Curly-haired face of 26/11 now goes to school

Divya Salaskar, the daughter of slain encounter specialist Vijay
Salaskar, pays homage to 26/11 victims in Mumbai on the fourth
anniversary of the attacks on Monday. (PTI)

Mumbai, Nov. 26: The last of the gunmen who left him orphaned is dead. The baby with the golden curls, who could easily have been one of the dead, now goes to school.

Baby Moshe, the unforgettable face of the Mumbai attacks, is “doing fine”, said Ralphy Jhirad, the vice-president of the Indo-Israel Chamber of Commerce, on the sidelines of an event to mark the day four years ago when the lives of many changed inexorably.

He has “started going to school” in Afula in Israel, Jhirad said at the programme at Nariman House, five days after Ajmal Kasab, the lone 26/11 gunman captured alive, was hanged.

“On his first day of school, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent him best wishes…. In response, Baby Moshe sent a greeting card with a lovely painting to the Prime Minister wishing him a Happy New Year,” Jhirad added.

Moshe, who is days away from his sixth birthday, stays with his maternal grandparents Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg and his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel.

Four years ago, on the night of November 26, 2008, it was touch and go. The 26/11 gunmen had stormed Nariman House and held six Israelis hostage, including Moshe’s parents, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and a pregnant Rivka, who managed the Jewish centre run by the orthodox Chabad Lubavitch sect.

Sandra had found Moshe crying next to four persons lying motionless on the ground. She picked him up and dashed out. By the time the standoff ended, the militants had killed both Gavriel and Rivka.

Sandra and Moshe later travelled with Rivka’s parents to Israel. “I have been visiting Baby Moshe and the Rosenbergs whenever I go to Israel and my children play with Moshe. I also spoke to Sandra this afternoon informing her that we intend to felicitate her for her courage and bravery at a small event on December 3,” Jhirad, who attended a prayer service at Nariman House this morning, said.

He said the reconstruction of Nariman House was nearly complete, and it would be reopened early next year. “It will be a museum. The fourth floor will be converted into a memorial for the victims, and the fifth floor, where Baby Moshe lived, would be preserved as it was before 26/11. The Rosenbergs would come for the reopening ceremony,” Jhirad told The Telegraph.

Police inspector Sanjay Govilkar described the fourth anniversary of the attacks as “special”.

An assistant inspector in 2008, Govilkar was among the team of officers who intercepted Kasab and Abu Ismail. Even as Ismail, who was driving a hijacked Skoda, was killed, Govilkar had screamed out that the other terrorist should be caught alive. “It was spontaneous. I am glad I got the opportunity to be able to capture alive a fidayeen who was here to kill and die,” Govilkar said.

Mansi, widow of slain railway police inspector Shashank Shinde, said Kasab’s “sudden” execution came as a surprise. “But there is a sense of relief.”