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Rediff.com  » News » Remembering 26/11: 'Kasab was grinning while firing at commuters'

Remembering 26/11: 'Kasab was grinning while firing at commuters'

Last updated on: November 25, 2018 20:19 IST

10 years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Kasab's grin is still etched in Vishnu Zende's memory.

The railway announcer's presence of mind saved the lives of hundreds of commuters at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai that fateful night.

"I remember the evil grin on Kasab's face. Armed with an assault rifle, he was walking towards the suburban platform," he said.

Zende, 47, vividly recalls Kasab 'grinning and abusing people' while spraying bullets from his assault rifle as the biggest ever terror attack on India unfolded on November 26, 2008.

Now working as a guard in the Central Railway, Zende says he is unable to forget the terror attack and the 'barbaric' way in which the terrorist went about slaying people.

 

Of the 166 killed in the 26/11 attack, 52 died at the railway station. As many as 108 were injured in the firing at the station.

"While firing indiscriminately, Kasab also waved his hand at us, signalling that we (railway staff) come out of the control room," Zende said.

The terrorist was mercilessly firing at people who were running to save their lives, he said. "When Kasab found nobody to kill at the platform, he also fired at a dog," he added.

"After hearing a loud sound on the long-distance train platform, I first thought it was a blast and started announcing that people should not go near the blast site. I also requested railway police to rush to the site," he said.

As soon as Zende made the announcement, he saw Kasab and a second terrorist coming towards the suburban trains' platform.

"That was the moment I realised it was a terror attack," he said.

"I had to alert commuters about the terrorists and started announcing about the attack. I told people to vacate the station immediately," he said.

Zende asked passengers to leave the station from the rear end of Platform No. 1 as he felt it was a relatively safe place at that time.

The railway staffer who also deposed as a witness in the 26/11 case, said, "I saw two faces of Kasab: one with the evil grin during the firing and a dispassionate one, bereft on any emotion, inside the court room."

'Cops were afraid, let Kasab flee from station'

The photojournalist who captured the chilling image of Kasab at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, says police let Kasab and his accomplice flee from the railway station.

On November 26, 2008, Sebastian D'Souza ran out from his office next to the train station armed with nothing more than his Nikon camera and lenses, after hearing the gunfire.

The photo and testimony of 'Saby', as he is known in media circles, was to play a crucial role in the 26/11 trial, which led to Kasab's hanging in 2012.

"Had policemen posted near the railway station killed Kasab and the other terrorist inside the station, so many lives could have been saved," Saby told PTI.

"There were two police battalions present near the station, but did nothing," said Saby, who retired in 2012 and settled in Goa.

Saby, 67, won the World Press Photo award for the close-up photograph of Kasab, holding an AK-47.

He took the photos using a telephoto lens on his Nikon camera, while hiding inside a train carriage.

"I ran into the first carriage of one of the trains on the platform to try and get a shot, but as I could not get a good angle, moved to the second carriage and waited for the terrorists to walk by. I briefly had time to take a couple of frames. I think they saw me taking photographs, but didnt seem to care," he said.

Having given up photography after retirement, Saby now keep himself busy with carpentry and paintings.

"I don't want to remember what I did that (November 26) night," he said, terming the sequence of events as an 'old film' which he wants to erase from his memory.

Dnyanesh Chavan in Mumbai
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