Railway employees rewarded for Mumbai bravery (Lead)

December 13th, 2008 - 9:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) A railway announcer who helped hundreds to escape the terrorist assault on the Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai and a Railway Police Force (RPF) trooper who fought the gunmen Saturday received Rs.10 lakhs (Rs.1 million) each from Railway Minister Lalu Prasad for their bravery.They were honoured at an RPF Investiture Parade here at which Lalu Prasad presented medals to RPF personnel which included seven Gallantry Awards, 22 Indian Police Medals, four President’s Police Medals, three Minister of Railways Medal for Bravery and four cash awards.

The heroes of the occasion were announcer Vishnu Dattaram Zende and RPF head constable Jullu Yadav who got a standing ovation as they came forward to receive the cheques from the minister, who warmly shook hands with them.

Two terrorists entered the Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus, one of the busiest in India, and opened indiscriminate fire, killing 58 people and wounding 95 on the evening of Nov 26.

They were among the 10 terrorists that India says came from Pakistan and landed on the Mumbai coast. They took over two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre. The mayhem ended Nov 29, leaving over 170 people dead.

When the firing began at the railway terminus, announcer Zhende urged people over loudhailers to hurriedly leave the station. Hundreds did - and thus saved themselves.

“I was scared but then that (announcing) was the only thing that came to my mind. There were faces smeared with blood and it was scary. I just lay down on floor and continued warning people not to come to the front row,” Zende said.

“It feels good that people have honoured me. My family and friends are also very happy. But thank god, the incident is over,” he added with a deep sigh.

Yadav, surrounded by congratulating colleagues and mediapersons, said: “It was a tough moment and the only thing that came to mind was to stop the terrorists. The rest was secondary.

“I certainly would have stopped the terrorists and gunned them down had I got a good weapon,” he said.

Lalu Prasad also gave away a cheque of Rs.10 lakhs to the family of RPF head constable M.N. Choudhry, who was killed by the terrorists at the station.

Three other railway security personnel who were injured in the action received Rs.50,000 each.

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