Thousands of lucky survivors from various spots targetted by terrorists during the 26/11 attacks — unaware commuters at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, busy nurses and doctors at the Cama hospital and carefree diners at Café Leopold — rejoiced at the news of lone surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab’s execution, though some expressed unhappiness about the secrecy of the operation.
Karuna Waghela, widow of a 2008 Mumbai terror attack's victim, with her son, watching news of Ajmal Kasab's death on TV. (PTI Photo)
Kasab was hanged at the Yerawada jail in Pune. “The government shouldn’t have maintained the secrecy around his execution,” Shaikh said, adding that the convicted terrorist should have been hanged in Mumbai itself.
“He should have been hanged in public at CST on the 26/11 anniversary, which is just days away,” said Mohammad Taufiq Shaikh alias Chotu, a tea vendor outside CST. Chotu was at the tea stall during the attacks and had helped save many lives.
On November 26, 2008, Kasab and fellow gunman Ismail, attacked CST at around 9.30 pm, opening fire and hurling grenades at passengers at the suburban network’s arterial station, killing 54 people injuring 108 others.
Apart from security personnel from the Government Railway Police and the Railway Protection Force, railway announcers also helped saved lives by alerting and guiding passengers. Among these was Babalu Kumar, who used the PA system to direct commuters to safety.
“I am really happy he was hanged, even though it came a bit late,” Kumar said.
Brave heart Jillu Yadav, the RPF constable to fired back at Kasab and his aide even as others were fleeing, said: “I still rue the fact that my bullet didn’t hit Kasab, otherwise many more lives would have been saved.”
At Cama & Albless hospital, nurse Laxmi Patil danced in her ward to celebrate the terrorist’s death while another nurse Madhuri Rahate promised to throw a party for her colleagues.
Around 15 nurses, security guards and servants were on the night shift when Kasab and Ismail entered the hospital, killing two security guards Baban Ugre and Bhaudev Narkar.
“This year’s anniversary will be special. All this while we were waiting for his death, which has finally happened,” said Sunanda Chavan, nurse from the hospital. Inspector Vijay Shinde, who was injured by terrorists inside Cama hospital, said: “It was very good news for my entire family and me.”
Farhang Jehani, owner of Colaba’s Leopold's café said: “Justice is done though it has taken so long. My sympathy towards all those who suffered.” The café will not hold any special celebration. “It’s not about celebration or mourning today. It’s just some relief to the conscience.”
(With inputs from Kiran Sonawane)