Ashok Chaurasia, 46, paanwala at Girgaum Chowpatty
The evening of November 26, 2008, was regular like any other. I was at my paan shop at Girgaum Chowpatty. The shops in the area had shut down at 9 pm; only the hotels and food joints were open. At around 11.15 pm, a few police constables came running towards me. “Close your shops and run home. Khatra hai. There are terrorists all around. Bhaago,” they said. At that point I did not understand what the panic was about. But then I saw the fast food joint and the ice-cream shop nearby close down and the waiters rush out, so I closed my shop as well. Suddenly, things began to happen. I was standing just about a hundred steps away from where Kasab was arrested so I saw all the action live.
I first saw Kasab firing his AK47 at the policeman (Tukaram Omble).
I saw the policeman standing selflessly like a shield to protect his colleagues.
I saw him collapsing on the ground when Kasab fired bullets into his stomach.
I saw him, determinedly, holding on to Kasab’s gun.
And I saw Kasab's accomplice (Ismail) being shot at by the police. I did not run. A part of me was scared, but I did not run. I had to see how those terrorising us with the might of their guns were being terrorised by our brave men armed with nothing more than lathis.
And then, I saw Kasab being captured alive. It was a moment of exhilaration, a moment of victory for each of us standing there. We wanted to clap, but then we saw the policewala lying on the ground. I felt a surge of mixed emotions. Even today, the sight of his bloodied body lying on the floor leaves me teary.
- As told to Puja Changoiwala