दुःख,क्षोभ,गुस्सा,निराशा,हताशा…सब कुछ मन में एक साथ गड्डमगड्ड होते चले जाते हैं।
जब बीते साल हैदराबाद में बम धमाके हुए थे तब सच में बहली बार आतंकवाद को इतने करीब से महसूस किया था। मुम्बई में पिछले तीन दिन से चल रहे घटनाक्रम ने उसे अहसास को और गहरा कर दिया है। जैसा कि घुघुतिबासुती जी ने लिखा, आतंकवाद अब पास आता जा रहा है। कल तक ये दूर का समाचार हुआ करता था…लेकिन इस बार..!!! कम से कम तीन लोग जिन्हे मैं जानता हूँ..सीधे तौर पर प्रभावित हुए हैं।
इस हमले में मारे गये लोगों को श्रद्धांजली और आतंकवादियों से सामना करते हुए जान गंवाने वाले जांबाजों को सलाम।
मेरे एक सहकर्मी, उस समय VT Station पर थे जब वहाँ गोलियाँ चलीं। सौभाग्यशाली रहे कि बच निकले…अपनी आँखों के सामने लोगों को गिरते हुए देखा उन्होने। कल जब दिन में उनसे बात हुई तब तक काफी सामान्य हो चुके थे, लेकिन बोले – “जब भी टी वी देखता हूं…मुझे वो दृश्य आँखों के सामने दिखाई देता है। शायद कोई अच्छे काम किये होंगे जो बच गया। लेकिन ये झटका उम्र भर साथ रहेगा।”
कल रात को अपना अनुभव उन्होने मेल पर लिख कर भेजा। उनकी अनुमति से नीचे प्रस्तुत है।
It was 26th March 2008; one fine day was approaching its end. I was on my way back from ABCD back home. I was scheduled to board XYZ mail from Chatrapathi Shivaji terminus Mumbai at 11.30PM. I had started from ABCD with a great feeling of satisfaction that I was able to achieve what I had come for.
26th Nov 2008: 5PM: It was 5PM I had boarded the Firozpur Janata Express towards Mumbai Central. I was happy that I could get a reservation in the train. But I was wrong. There was a huge tug-of-war to board the train and capture seats. I was surprised to see that there were 4 passengers occupying my reserved seat. But I understood that I need to go by it, as it was not possible to manage such a crowd. I squeezed myself amidst four of my fellow passengers
26th Nov 2008: 8.30PM: I was approaching Mumbai. I recognized when the train passed by Borivile. I was prepared to get down the train. I was counting the no. of stations passing by, Mahalaxmi, Jogeshwari, Andheri, Dadar, Lower Parel etc, etc.. (My order of stations may be wrong). Finally I reached Mumbai Central
26th Nov 2008: 9.00PM: I just reached CST (formerly VT) by a taxi. I was admiring the layout of the station as how it had two separate terminals, one for the local and other for the main line. I went to the main terminal, I searched for the cloak room and deposited my suitcase. I still had 2.5Hrs to kill. I decided to explore the areas surrounding the station.
26th Nov 2008:10.00PM: I had just been to a beer bar and gulped in two mugs of draught beer. I went to a small food joint and relished Vada Pav (I still linger the taste). I was just entering the station corridor. BOOM.. Kad,kad, kad….. (What noise is that????)
26th Nov 2008:10.15PM: I see a young person holding his gun and firing the ticketing windows, the glass panels being broken, and turning towards the public, two to three cops with their guns started to target the two persons who were firing. One of them throws a grenade towards the cops. Lay down, lay down, (that was a guess cos. They were shouting in Marathi) screamed the police. I fell down.
26th Nov 10.30PM: I see the police cordoning off that area and chasing the terrorists towards the mainline terminal platforms. “Now run, run, run for your life” I said to myself and along with the crowd I ran outside with my backpack still strapped around my shoulders. I was praying to God. “Please save my life for the sake of my daughter, my wife and mother, they need me”
26th Nov 2008: 11.00PM: I ran across the road along with the crowd (I can hear continuous gun shots, explosion but was fading away as I was running away from the station) I saw young boys, girls, kids and I remember a mother hugging her child and running shouting for help. I had crossed the road and reached the other side. I saw shops and offices shutting down the doors and grills. I managed to squeeze into a cafeteria before the grill was forcefully shut
26th Nov 2008: 11.15PM: I was among 12 other people in that cafeteria. There was a knock at the gate, we hear a girl crying and pleading to let her in. One of the person just opened the gate such that she could just squeeze in. The lights were turned off and we were asked to be seated where we were and not to make any noise. I had thoughts of what planning I had as safety measure to support my family, if in case I would not make it home (wildest of thoughts, but I was forced to think so)
26th Nov 2008: 11.30PM: I began to get some confidence that we were safe. We heard sirens and rushing jeeps and cops shouting from mega phones that not to come out and that the operation was on in the station. I calmed down, so were others (excepting that girl who entered at last as her two sisters have boarded train to go the Goa and she was also supposed to join them)
26th Nov 2008: 11.45PM: One of the lights was switched on. We began to introduce each other. What a surprise! I was a XXXX , there was a Malayali ex-servicemen, an IT professional who speaks Telugu, two boys from Orissa, one elderly couple from Sholapur and the crying girl was a Konkani, two Govt servants of MTNL Mumbai, We were under shelter of a Parsi (INDIA IS UNITED). I knew that I was out of danger and called one of my friends to help me to reach XYZ in the morning. I also requested him not to call up my home and inform on the situation. I was more concerned on their peace and did not want to make them restless. “Breaking News – Firing at several places in Mumbai – 15 people injured: reports – 20 shots in CST station: Witnesses” – SMS alert on mobile phone
26th Nov 2008: 12 Midnight: My flight ticket was booked. He updated me that the incident was gang-war as per the news channels, but I sensed that it was something more serious.
27th Nov 2008: 12.23AM: “Breaking news – 10 killed in Mumbai terror attack, blasts in Colaba, Vile Parle, 2 ultras holed up in Oberoi hotel, India win by 6 wkts” – SMS news in my mobile. We peeped out through the grill. We see ambulances and police jeeps rushing inside and outwards the station. We see more cops in the streets.
27th Nov 2008: 12.30AM: The elderly couple had slept. The girl was in a sigh of relief as she was able to talk to her sisters who were in the train locked up and all doors and windows shut (as advised by the police), I saw her smiling which made all of us to smile as well. The IT guy was exploring ways to activate GPRS to get online news (His hi-tech mobile’s battery was down)
27th Nov 2008: 01.40AM: “Breaking News – 60 killed in Mumbai terror attack – many ultras hold up in Oberoi hotel – panic grips Mumbai” SMS alert on mobile. One of the Orissa boy says that this is often repeating in Mumbai and expressed that tomorrow Laluji will come and was saying some comic comments on him. We began to discuss on the safety measures that needs to be taken and were mentioning the 9/11 attacks in the US, Glassgow attack in the UK etc.,
27th Nov 2008:03.05AM: I had also dozed for some time, but was not fully asleep. Some were sleeping and the old man had lit up his beedi, disturbing the others inside the cafeteria. He understood our discomfort and put off his beedi. “80 killed in Mumbai terror attack- ATS chief Hemant Karkare dies – CST cordoned off” SMS news alert
27th Nov 2008: 03.30AM: The Malayalee ex-servicemen had left, someone had come to take him back home, we all wished him and felt happy that he was back his home. We now opened the grill gate and enquired with some of the cops who were roaming in the streets to control and heard that the CST station had been sanitized and around 30 to 40 would have been killed. People had started to move out to the streets (nature’s call mainly..)
27th Nov 2008: 04.30AM: Myself along with the IT professional and the hotel’s owner strolled across the road and saw that the station was returning back to normalcy. The train services were resumed and the early morning commuters have started coming to the station much to their shock and unawareness on what had happened last night. Taxi traffic resumed
27th Nov 2008: 04.45AM: I had my flight at 7AM and needed to start for the airport, I greeted and said Good Bye to the others in the cafeteria and walked towards the station hoping to take my suitcase back from the cloakroom. I saw bloody stains, scattered baggage, broken window panes. It was like a place immediately after war. The house keepers of the station began their duty (of course they would have not expected to clean pool of blood, broken glasses etc.) and I said to the cloakroom supervisor “Main tho kal raath hi aanewala tha …magar ??” and collected my suit case. It was weighing more and imagined that if I had not dropped my suitcase in the cloak room, I would have run with my suitcase and increasing my chance of getting plotted
27th Nov 2008: 05.00AM: I engaged a taxi to the airport (The taxiwala was greedy and wanted to make the most out of it, I paid him Rs 800/- to drop me at the airport). There was screening as I entered the airport and had to prove my identity and show my e-ticket confirmation SMS to the cop. I went to the ticket counter, got my e-ticket printed and entered inside the airport. I went to the toilet changed my clothes and freshened up. I did not want to reveal that I had witnessing the attack with my dirty clothes and blood stained chappals
27th Nov 2008: 6.00AM: I called up home and briefed about the last night events and that I have reached airport to board flight. They were shocked on hearing that and my mother had burst in tears, I spoke to my wife that I was alright and not have even the slightest of injury. “All passengers to XYZ are kindly requested to board the aircraft through gate no 9” passenger announcement. I went to board the aircraft
27th Nov 2008: 10.00AM: Landed at XYZ, amidst heavy rain. Boarded a taxi back home, was eagerly awaiting to see my family and finally made it by 11.30AM. “Appaa….” My daughter came running towards me. I was happy, my dear ones had a sigh of relief on their faces (So did I had)