At CST, 26/11 heroes are glad that they had saved some lives
When 26/11 terrorists Ajmal Amir Kasab and Ismail Khan fired manically at passengers, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) announcers Bablu Kumar and Vishnu Zende, displaying immense presence of mind, told people to leave the station from the back exit without revealing the seriousness of the situation.
The two announcers can be seen performing their duties relentlessly even today. Proud, yet modest, the announcers say this is where they belong.
Mindless terror: A scene from a blast site in Ahmedabad (Photo courtesy: Tehelka)
Three years ago on Nov 26, when 10 Pakistan-based men struck in Mumbai for a three-day terror siege that ended only on Nov 28, Kumar was announcing the arrival and departure of outstation trains, and Zende was stationed at the local announcement room.
"I was taking down the arrival and departure of two outstation trains as I heard some blasts on platform 9. I believed them to be bomb blasts and immediately made an announcement asking the passengers to move out of the station from platform 13," Kumar said.
Kumar also managed to inform the main control room at CST and then called Zende to inform him of the attack. CST was one of several Mumbai landmarks that were attacked and 52 people, including five railway employees, were killed there alone.
Zende had already realised the severity of the attacks and had started giving out similar instructions to local commuters.
"It was a terrible sight, but I am glad I could save the lives of several others," Zende said.
"In fact, this has been a learning ground. We have learned never to let our guard down. And if, god forbid, such an attack is launched on CST again, we will be able to handle it better," he added.
While the announcers countered terror verbally, Railway Protection Force (RPF) constable Jillu Yadav fought Kasab - the only 26/11 terrorist caught alive - in person.
Yadav had grabbed a rifle from a Government Railway Police (GRP) constable and returned the fire.
"But how could a rifle match up to the beast of an AK-47?" questioned Yadav.
Kasab and Khan immediately shot back, which left Yadav with little choice. When he found a chair lying nearby, he hit Kasab with it. "I tried to stop them, but they managed to escape and fired at people outside CST," Yadav said.
Even today, Yadav can be seen patrolling the platforms at the CST station, only with much more vigilance.
Ticet inspector Sushil Kumar Sharma did not survive the bullets. "He always dreamt of giving something back to society," said his widow Ragini who has set up the Shaheed Sushil Kumar Sharma Foundation.
Sharma went beyond the call of duty that night at CST to alert hordes of commuters of the gunfire and then save a four-year-old, but fell to bullets himself.
Ragini was given a job and compensation. She decided the job was enough to raise her two boys Siddhant and Aditya. She set up the foundation with the compensation money.
"Through this, I want to help needy people not only monetarily but in other ways too. Through the foundation I have adopted three children and fund their education," Ragini said.
Three years ago, these duty-bound individuals protected hundreds of lives even as 166 others - Indians as well as foreigners - fell to the bullets of the Pakistan-based terrorists. - IANS