This is an eyewitness report from the NowPublic member Sanjay Jha who is on the scene.
Mumbai eyewitnesses recall horror of attacks
By Sanjay Jha in Mumbai
It was supposed to be a reunion of two friends after a long time and Ravi Tripathi, a 30-year-old budding singer, along with an old colleague, decided to celebrate the occasion with a dinner at the famous Taj Hotel.
Despite the humidity in Mumbai, the sea breeze made the weather very pleasant and the pair, after walking around the Gateway of India, went into the Taj Hotel. The hotel was full of guests and the staffs as usual were scurrying around in the lobby to cater to guests. The coffee shop and restaurants were brimming with diners.
His colleague’s six-year-old daughter insisted on seeing the famous Chowpathy beach of the Arabian Sea in Mumbai. Her insistence saved both their lives.
“We left the Taj disappointed at not being able to have dinner and by the time we parked our car at Chowpathy, there was a big commotion and people were running aimlessly and trying to find a safe place,” Ravi told NowPublic. “Nobody knew what was happening initially. People thought it was some kind of gang war.” Mumbai has had a history of gang warfare and in the past this kind of crossfire was widespread.
But slowly it looked much bigger and chaos and confusion grew. Both friends decided to escape back home and when they were driving down the main street, there was a big traffic snarl-up and they were constantly flooded with phone calls from friends and relatives.
“We got to know that it is not a local gang war but terrorists have struck at three places and are killing innocent people. We were scared and praying for our safety.”
The terrorists struck a week ago today and now as the days pass, more and more gory details are emerging from survivors and eyewitness. Local newspapers are filled with the details of survivors’ accounts.
28-year-old hotel employee Sadshiv Kalke was chatting with his friend after finishing off day’s work, nearby Mumbai’s busiest railway station Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus which was earlier known as Victoria Terminus. He had planned to see off his friend who was going out of station.
“We heard a loud noise but didn’t pay any attention and continued to walk towards the station. As we were entering into main station building, there was utter confusion and lot of commotion. It was all helter and skelter,” said Kalke who is still shocked and recuperating from mental trauma.
“I came in the indiscriminate firing by terrorists and fell down on the platform. After seeing my plight, a middle-aged man took me to the nearest GT hospital.” Sadashiv Kalke is still recovering in hospital and the incident continues to haunt him.
Raju Shinde works with Mumbai Mirror, a local tabloid newspaper. The newspaper is headquarterd next to the railway station where terrorists struck. He had got a new camera and was practicing using the new machine. After hearing about a bomb blast at the Taj Hotel, he rushed there.
Speaking to NowPublic, Raju said: “As we were passing through the railway station we heard a big explosion We saw people quite panicked and coming out of the subway.” He left his bike and ran to the railway platform.
“After reaching platform number 3, I saw two men walking out of the railway station and didn’t suspect them to be the terrorists. They had hidden the gun behind the bag and were not firing. Suddenly they started firing and killed 4 people in front of me."
They took a backseat and took shelter behind a pillar on the platform. “They started firing on us and even threw a grenade. Taking advantage of the smoke everybody ran away. By the time terrorist had started walking out of platform”. He was terrified by the whole incident but happy to be alive.
Many of the survivors of this worst carnage are having sleepless horror nights and still the fear haunts them.
Leopold Café in South Mumbai’s Colaba is a most sought-after watering hole for foreign tourists and also for Indians. The place is usually jam-packed all the time and especially difficult to get inside in the peak evening hours.
This is where at least seven people were killed and six were injured in the attack and many are severely injured. One of the waiters, Bharat, had planned to have dinner with his colleague in the café’s kitchen after his duty was over.
“As I was entering the kitchen area I saw terrorists firing bullets with their automatic weapons and killing innocent people. I was also hit by one of the bullets,” said Bharat.
Speaking with a choked voice Bharat doesn’t want to recollect those horrific, dangerous, scary and worst moments of his life.
“Although I was grievously injured I could see dead bodies and many injured people around me, it was a very unforgettable night”. He feels very sad about the incident and is getting treatment for his trauma.