I can never forget this incident: CST kiosk ownerDecember 8th, 2008 - 10:22 am ICT by IANS
Mumbai, Dec 8 (IANS) Saupratap Singh remembers that evening vividly. He had just taken out the sandwiches from the fridge to keep it on the counter of his kiosk at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station, when he heard loud staccato bursts. He soon saw people running helter-skelter, people falling down in pools of blood and realised it was a terrorist attack.”I can never ever forget that incident in my life. Mumbai has seen terror attacks before, but at CST this was the first time and I had definitely not seen something so close. I am just glad that I had come out of it alive,” Singh told IANS, his face clouding with memories of the trauma.
Attired in a red tee-shirt, like other shopkeepers at the station, Singh recounted the unfolding of the events on the night of Nov 26 when two heavily armed terrorists opened fire indiscriminately at the people, killing at least 58 people in the packed CST alone.
“It was late in the evening and I was taking out sandwiches from the fridge and keeping it on the counter, when I suddenly heard loud noises. At first I thought it must have been a bomb blast because immediately thereafter people started running helter skelter.
“I immediately ducked and waited for a few seconds crouching behind the counter. Thankfully, since my shop is near the exit gate, I ran out and kept running till I reached the nearby Azad Maidan,” Singh said with dramatic gestures, almost reliving the moment.
That night, Singh was just one of the many other shopkeepers of CST who took refuge under the open skies in the open grounds of Azad Maidan.
R.S. Rajavatsa, another shopkeeper at the station, recounted the horror of that evening.
“We are just glad that we came out of it alive. That night we spent praying and hoping at the Maidan that things get over. The next morning, we came back to the station and took the train home…after pulling down the shutters of the shop of course,” Rajavatsa told IANS.
Weren’t they scared to take the train from the station which saw bloodshed just the night before?
“The trains had resumed service, and we simply took the train home. Our families were very scared and our aim was to just reach home. Scared, yes. That incident will always remain with us,” Singh said.
“The crowd has come back to the station, and we have resumed our business, but we can never forget that night. That’s all we keep talking about most of the times,” said Singh, who attends to hundreds of customers thronging the station that sees 500,000 people pass through it every day.
The terror assault in Mumbai, which lasted 60 hours, left 172 people dead and the city shaken and scarred.