Economy

Mumbaikars still shudder over 26/11

Beena Parmar Satyanarayan Iyer | Updated on November 26, 2013

A hoarding paying tribute to policemen martyred in the 26/11 attacks was put up near Cama Hospital, next to the lane they were killed in their vehicle five years ago. — Paul Noronha

Even after five years, Lakshmi Patil hesitated to speak about the horrific night of November 26, the day when India experienced its worst terror attack.

Woh sab waapis yaad karne ko darr lagta hai (It scares me to recollect all that),” said the senior nurse staff at the Cama Hospital in Mumbai.

In 2008, ten terrorists attacked 12 prime locations in south Mumbai, including Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital (a women and children's hospital) and the Nariman House Jewish community centre.

The dastardly firefighting that was telecast live on television channels between the attackers and the Mumbai police, security forces, Army and national security guards lasted 60 hours over four days, killed nearly 166 people and left 308 people injured. Though, the scene at the Gateway of India was no different from any normal day abuzz with tourists, photographers, cabbies, Victoria horses and balloon sellers, as one walks on the lane connecting the Taj to Gateway, one finds the remnants of burned candles placed in front of the flex hoarding bearing bust-sized photographs of the men who were felled on those fateful days.

A memorial service was conducted for 18 officials from the armed forces and police department at the CST Railway station, Cama Hospital and other attacked locations too.

Since the attack, a blood donation drive is also organised each year at eight railway stations including the one at CST.

As Patil got comfortable, she recollected the first sound of gunshots which most staff mistook as cricket match winning celebrations.

“Just before they attacked our hospital, we were also told about the firing at CST railway station and hence we started preparing for any casualties. Suddenly, we saw two men firing at our hospital and we all immediately shut all doors gathering all patients in a ward or bathrooms,” Patil recalls.

Another senior nurse Sunanda Chavan said, “We are glad no patients suffered any casualties.”

Rajashree Katke, Superintendent at the hospital, said, “We have increased our fencing by 10 feet and installed 65 CCTV cameras with 24 hours security at the entrances.”

Police officials at the CST railway station said, today leaves of all the officers has been cancelled and everyone is on duty to pay service to the martyrs and be on alert. However, a cab driver puts all of this succinctly when he said, “it is our attitude to tighten the screws for two months after any incident, and then things become lax,” which was perhaps evident at the CST railway station.

Another cab driver said, “ Samundar se aaye , bahut bhayankar kiya tha…(They came from the sea, too horrifying),”

Though Mumbai’s ‘spirits come alive’ each time it becomes a target to terrorist attacks, the eye witnesses’ hearts will always skip a beat recollecting the horror.

beena.parmar@thehindu.co.in

> satyanarayan.iyer@thehindu.co.in

Published on November 26, 2013

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