'Hell on Earth' For Mumbai: Where, When, and How It All Started
A timeline of events is now available that details the start and finish of the brutal Mumbai Massacre that left many people killed and many more people injured. So far, the attack had started at the Chhatrapti Shivaji Terminus. In the span of the chaos, those at the train station would witness and experience their fair share of the bloodshed at the hands of the Deccan Mujahideen.
MUMBAI, India – 9:21 p.m. Wednesday, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus __ Two young men walk casually through Mumbai's main railway station, a worn Victorian hulk bustling with late commuters heading home, scurrying past small food stands and juice bars and vendors selling newspapers. They enter near the taxi stand, where long lines of battered black and yellow cabs wait for fares. One wears khaki cargo pants and a blue T-shirt. A pair of small knapsacks are slung over a shoulder. He looks like a college kid.
They are, says a photographer who follows them on part of their grim journey, "backpackers with assault rifles."
The two — and other death squads working in pairs — are to wreak carnage in landmark after landmark across Mumbai over the next three days, creating panic in this normally unflappable city and killing more than 195 people.
Sebastian D'Souza hears the gunfire at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus from his office across the street at the Mumbai Mirror tabloid.
He follows the sound through the sprawling station, slipping unseen through parked trains. When he first catches sight of the young men, he doesn't realize they are the gunmen. They look so innocent. Then he sees them shooting.
"They were firing from their hips. Very professional. Very cool," says D'Souza, the newspaper's photo editor. For more than 45 minutes he follows as they move from platform to platform shooting and throwing grenades. Often, D'Souza isn't even 30 feet away. The few police at the station are either dead, in hiding or had long fled.
There are billboards everywhere, signs of India's economic boom. At one point, he photographs them standing beneath a tea company sign. They appear to be having a calm conversation. "WAKE UP!" the billboard reads.
They were 10 gunmen, well-trained and armed with assault rifles and grenades, officials say. They had scouted their targets ahead of time. The knew the hallways and the basements. They even carried bags of almonds for energy. Police say they were Muslim extremists from Pakistan, and may be tied to India's long-running insurgency in the disputed, largely Muslim, Himalayan region of Kashmir.
They landed in an inflatable rubber boat not long after nightfall on a Mumbai beach, a semi-isolated stretch of sand and stone where fisherman bring in their boats during the daytime. From there, it was less than a 15-minutes walk to their major targets. The group fanned out across the city, hitting 10 spots in two hours. They chose some of the best-known landmarks, many popular with foreigners and the city's elite. Many of the attacks ended in minutes. But at two luxury hotels and a Jewish center they dug in, fending off hundreds of commandos for days.