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26/11 terror attacks to World Cup win: HT’s 12 years in Mumbai

On its 12th anniversary, HT Mumbai gives the highs and lows the city saw in 12 years

mumbai Updated: Jul 21, 2017 15:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,26/11 terror attacks,World Cup

On the occasion of the 12th anniversary of HT Mumbai, we present a selection of photos from the past 12 years that showcase the city, its character and its varied moods.

From the euphoria around Sachin Tendulkar’s swansong to Mumbai’s changing look to the city’s darkest moments, you saw it all through our lens...

1. 2005: The year when dance bars shut

The once-vibrant industry is now stuck in a set of rules. (HT FILE)

Dance bars have a long and torrid history in the state. Once wildly successful, the bars were abruptly banned in 2005, putting thousands of young women out of jobs. The Supreme Court overturned the ban in 2013 – citing that the ban violated bar dancers’ right to earn a livelihood – but Maharashtra quickly amended its laws to clamp the ban a year later.

2. 2006: Blasts rock the lifeline

The blasts scarred the city forever. (HT FILE)

Seven blasts tore through the first-class compartments of crowded local trains in a span of just five minutes on July 11, 2006, during evening rush hours, when millions of office-goers were heading home, killing 188 people and wounding 816. In October 2015, a special court sentenced five people to death for planting bombs and gave life sentence to seven for providing chemicals, assistance and logistical support for one of the worst terror attacks to hit the country.

3. 2007: The year India won the T20 World Cup

The Indian cricket team’s victory march at Wankhede stadium. (HT FILE)

It was the tournament in which MS Dhoni took his first step as captain, Yuvraj Singh was the star of the show, Rohit Sharma had arrived on the international scene and Harbhajan Singh was in his prime. The BCCI were reluctant to send a team to SA, and seniors Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly kept away to indicate that the game’s biggest draw wasn’t taking T20 seriously. But India charged through unbeaten to win the trophy. Yuvraj’s six sixes off an over by Stuart Broad electrified the event.

4. 2008: The terror the city wants to forget

The most audacious terror attack on Indian soil shook the city to its core. The iconic dome of Hotel Taj burning, as gunshots rang out for more than two days, is a memory Mumbai would like to erase. (Hindustan Times)

On November 26, 2008, Mumbai was attacked by 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives who came from the sea starting around 9pm. The siege continued till 9.30am on November 29. The attacks left 166 people dead, 238 injured and lakhs devastated. Nine of the attackers were killed and lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and later hanged in 2012. Prime suspect LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, believed to be the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, is in hiding after getting bail over a year ago. American citizen David Headley, who admitted scouting targets for the 2008 assault on Mumbai by Pakistani militants, has testified that the plot was hatched with at least one Pakistani intelligence official and a navy frogman.

5. 2009: Power centre

Chief minister Ashok Chavan, who was later embroiled in the Adarsh scam, and his deputy Chhagan Bhujbal, who is currently lodged in jail, were sworn-­in as the Congress-­NCP combine retained power in Maharashtra. (HT FILE)

NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal was arrested by the enforcement directorate (ED) on March 14 in a money laundering case related to the controversial deal of Maharashtra government with a private developer. Bhujbal was called for interrogation and arrested after daylong questioning. He is now in judicial custody at Arthur Road jail. Hailing from Nanded in Marathwada region, Chavan, 56, was elected as the chief minister in December 2008 in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and to replace late Vilasrao Deshmukh. However, Chavan was forced to quit in November 2010 after his name figured in the Adarsh Society scam

6. 2010: Obama is in town

Then US President Barack Obama spent 45 minutes interacting with 300­odd students at St Xavier’s College as he visited Mumbai during his India trip. He was accompanied by the then First Lady Michelle Obama. (HT FILE)

He came, he met and he conquered. Then US president Barack Obama’s visit to the city was a success. From businessmen, ministers and government officials to school and college students – he met them all. While Obama said he wanted to take ties with India to another level and asserted that the South Asian nation has already “risen” as a power, his wife Michelle greeted students with a namaste and reminded them to “dream big”.

7. 2011: We bring the World Cup home

Yuvraj Singh shares his joy. (HT FILE)

Team India conquered the pinnacle of ODI cricket as they won the World Cup after 28 years. What made the victory even sweeter was that it came at home and was a farewell gift for Sachin Tendulkar, who retired before the next World Cup in 2015. MS Dhoni hit an emphatic six off Nuwan Kulasekara in the 49th over of the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka when India only needed four runs from 11 balls to win, becoming part of the Indian cricketing folklore and debatably world’s best finisher.

8. 2012: Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray dies

The funeral saw the warring Thackeray family come together. (FILE)

Bal Thackeray, a maverick politician who roused emotions on Marathi pride and catapulted Shiv Sena to power in Maharashtra in the 1990s, died in Mumbai. A rabble rouser, who started out as a cartoonist alongside R K Laxman in the Free Press Journal in the 1950s, founded the Shiv Sena in 1966 on the plank of job security for the Marathi manoos (sons of the soil) which translated into attacks on South Indians whom he had blamed for taking away the opportunities from the locals.

9. 2013: The little master retires

Sachin bids goodbye to cricket at the Wankhede stadium. (HT FILE)

Cricket would never be the same again as Mumbai’s favourite son and a legend of the game, Sachin Tendulkar, retired from Tests after playing his 200th match at the Wankhede Stadium. The city cheered and shed a tear as Sachin gave an emotional speech about his journey.

10. 2014: The fire threw light on how unprepared we were

Firemen try to contain the blaze. (HT FILE)

A fire broke out in the 22-storey Lotus Business Park in Andheri (West), killing one fireman and injuring about 20 others.It showed unprepared Mumbai was to tackle a blaze, bringing in stricter rules.

11. 2015: Indrani saga, a media potboiler involving mediapersons

Indrani Mukerjea outside a Mumbai court. (HT FILE)

It was a story straight out of a potboiler. A media bigwig, Indrani Mukerjea, was accused and later arrested for killing her daughter, Sheena Bora, and disposing of the body. Then came along a saga of husband, ex-husband, her daughter’s lover. The nation is still hooked on to the twists and turns in the case.

12. 2016: Mumbai gets its happy feet

The penguins at Byculla zoo. (HT FILE)

Eight Humboldt penguins reached the Byculla zoo from Seoul, South Korea, in the wee hours of Tuesday, bringing the civic body’s Rs2.57-crore ambitious plan to reality. The Humboldt penguin is a south American species found in cold climate of coastal Peru and Chile. The death of one of them, Dory, created an uproar. The 7, who are now in Byculla zoo, are attracting crowds making Mumbai happy.

Look around. Your city is changing so fast, it’s like one of those fastforward reels, where buildings go up seemingly overnight, and icons that had stood for decades crumble in the face of the new. We now commute via smartphone apps, jet across the ocean on a sea link, travel the world via our dinner plates. As we turn 12, here’s our pick of the most landmark changes in that time
Mumbai is where the money is and a large chunk of it comes from the ‘market’, as the Bombay Stock Exchange is called. Fortunes are made and lost in minutes, as a thin line graph – the country’s benchmark index – yo-yos between highs and lows, driven by market forces and by sentiment. The past 12 years have seen this lifeline scale new peaks – from levels that hovered around the 7,000 mark in 2005 to crossing 32,000 this year – and experience a few hiccups too. Volatility and falls followed the 2008 global recession. Now, it is on an upswing, having gained 4,000 points in the past year alone. Look more closely and you see, in the graph and its spikes and troughs, a brief history of the nation. It’s a story, in numbers, of the way we used to be, and how we got here.
Grown men cried when India won the World Cup in 2011, and for many the tears were as much for the nation as for the man at the centre of the celebrations. Everyone knew it would be Sachin Tendulkar’s last World Cup. And it felt fitting that he was winding down his career with the biggest win there is. Tendulkar played his last Test in 2013. We’d known the day was coming. But after ruling the 22 yards across the globe for 24 years, it still felt strange to watch him take to the field for the last time. India was playing the West Indies that day, but it didn’t really matter who won. The massive crowd at Wankhede was there for one reason: To pay tribute to a 39-year-old legend they had first fallen in love with when he stormed the field as a curly-topped teen way back in 1989. For some, part of the sparkle went out of the game when he bowed out on November 16. Gone were the curly top and shy smile, the fluid grace and the awesome power of that stroke. It was, quite simply, the end of an era.
944 mm. It’s a number most Mumbaiites will never forget. That’s how much rain poured into the metropolis during the Mumbai deluge of 26 / 7 / 2005. Coupled with unusually high tides, it swamped the suburbs – large parts of which are reclaimed and therefore situated below sea level. Houses on the first floor were flooded in places. People drowned on the streets. Got locked into their cars by the sheer pressure of the water outside. Over 500 died. Some took over a day to get home, on foot. Their only comfort, the locals who came out on to the street with little packets of food and glasses of water. The Spirit of Mumbai was celebrated; the municipal corporation had never been more hated. In the backlash that followed, promises were made of new pumping stations and better stormwater disposal networks. But 12 years on, not much has changed. Would Mumbai fare much better in the face of another 944 mm? The answer is simply, no.
It was a long time coming, but the city’s first Metro line is already a hot favourite with Mumbaiites. It’s finally fulfilled the promise of high-speed east-west connectivity, shrinking the distance between the suburbs on either side. As has the Eastern Freeway, a sweeping 16.8-km long elevated road that lets you get from Ghatkopar to Colaba in under half an hour — down from at least 90 minutes. Not all the new additions to the streetscape have been as successful. The skywalks were such a failure that many are now being dismantled. And the white elephant in the room is, of course, the monorail. Commissioned in February 2014, phase one goes from Chembur to Wadala but it’s not clear who that is supposed to benefit, given that few people live or work in the latter. Phase 2 has still not been commissioned.
There are more Metro links coming up, however, and that’s good news for sure, given that 3.7 lakh passengers already use the first.
There are people who live in the suburbs and work at Nariman Point but haven’t been to Mahim, Dadar or Prabhadevi in years. They just cruise past over the ocean, via the sealink, grateful to be avoiding some of the worst traffic jams in the city. The cost has been controversial – it took nearly 9 years and over Rs 1,600 crore to build, and it still costs too much to use. The environmental impact is still being debated. But one thing is for certain — this is the new symbol of Mumbai. If you need to capture the city in one frame, you no longer head to Gateway of India, but to the Bandra-Worli sealink. The sea bridge, with its 5.6-km sweep and graceful cable-stayed towers, was opened in July 2009 and is used by about 50,000 motorists daily. It’s reduced a tortuous leg that could take an hour to traverse, to a zipping ride you can now do in under seven minutes. And what could be more icon-worthy than that.
It had been a whole generation since Mumbai saw terrorism on this scale. When the first shots rang out at Leopold Café on November 26, 2008, most people thought it was an underworld gunfight. Then bullets were fired at CST, Cama Hospital, the Trident hotel and the Taj. As a baffled city watched, a little-known Jewish centre was attacked. Images of a young man toting a machine gun in the Gothic train terminus emerged. There were streaks of blood on the station floor. Blasts in taxis followed. The dome of the Taj caught fire. The siege would go on for three days and claim 166 lives. Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist caught alive. The 21-year-old Laskhar-e-Taiba operative from Pakistan was tried, sentenced, and executed in 2012. The siege became defining evidence of cross-border terrorism and reshaped dialogue with Pakistan. And here in Mumbai, you can no longer saunter into a hotel or multiplex unchecked. And a stray boat is never just a stray boat any more.
In a city where commute can define quality of life, app-based taxi aggregators have changed how Mumbai gets around. Remember the days when you had to pound the pavements hoping that someone would be in the mood to take you where you needed to go?
No more. No more, ‘Kahaan jaana hai aapko? Nahin, wahan nahi jaayega’. Instead, at a click, you get polite (for the most part) drivers, air-conditioned vehicles, no more rainwater dripping on your seat from a stuck window. Best of all, the vehicle pulls up at your door, and wordlessly gets you where you want to go – regardless of whether it’s down the road and around the corner, or off to Navi Mumbai — often for less money over the longer routes than the kaali-peelis cost. It’s not all rainbows and gold dust, of course. There is surge pricing to contend with. Also, drivers going on strike to protest working conditions. And with no fixed fare structure, there is the worry that rates could soar once the funding dries up and the aggregators are forced to start showing a profit. For now, though, rising prices have even got the city carpooling likes it never carpooled before.
Remember Bharat Mata? That theatre / time machine where standing fans rotated the air, and patrons sat on wooden benches? Girangaon ceased to be a while ago, but for over a decade, it crumbled where it had stood, as the city argued over what to do with the massive tracts of public land no longer in use. No prizes for guessing how that turned out. Lower Parel is no longer where you go for non-air-conditioned Marathi theatres or low-rise chawl housing. At least not for most. It’s now where you go to check out the fanciest new restaurants and the biggest high-street brands. Its mill compounds are entertainment hubs where you can play indoor games on artificial turf, eat at a restaurant that looks like a vintage train coach and try seven different cuisines (including molecular gastronomy). Its iconic chawl housing is falling to pieces as luxury skyscrapers reach for the sky around them. The promised parks and affordable homes never materialised. What the city got instead was a skyline that, for better or worse, represents who we are today.
If you are of a certain age, you will remember family outings being a dual-choice affair. It was either pav bhaji / dosa / idli, or Indian Chinese. Then came the dining-out boom. Pasta became a byword, even if we still don’t really get the sauces right. Pizza was all the rage. Suddenly, Thai was everywhere. Then Mexican. As the Mumbai diner became more experimental, and willing to spend, niche cuisines emerged: Peruvian, Nigerian. The term ‘casual fine-dine’ began to be tossed about, allowing restaurants to charge over Rs 900 per dish. Casting about for USPs in an increasingly crowded market, things began to go ‘glocal’. So now, your Italian pizza sauce should taste just like it was made in Sicily, but the tomatoes you use should be from no more than a few score km away. Street food found new USPs too. You still get the masala sandwich, but you can also try the ‘chocolate bread toast’. You now get ‘Chindian’ and ‘South Indian’, combined. The noodle dosa is, admittedly, not for everyone, but it’s certainly part of our distinct culinary landscape.
There was a time when you could send a toddler clambering up a human pyramid, blare dandiya music in your local maidan all night, block entire streets for a week. Recent court rulings and anti-pollution norms are changing how we celebrate festivals. For some, this is taking the community fun out of the celebrations. For others, it’s a relief that the kids can sleep at night, that the pets aren’t terrified, and that those with heart and lung ailments are finally getting a voice. There is now an age limit for the Govindas that form the human pyramids on Gokulashtami. There are noise pollution deadlines that stipulate how late and how long you can use loudspeakers. Midnight mass is no longer held at midnight either, as a result. The streets are still taken over for processions and immersions, but it’s a start.
T2 is so different from the old Mumbai airport that it was almost worth the long, expensive wait. This is a terminal that a city can be proud of. Its soaring peacock-inspired pillars, its original art from across the country, its lovable Labradors that help ease stress. Gone are the days of shabby counters, dingy interiors and too few loos. Mumbai’s terminal is bigger, better and built for the future. With a flight taking off or touching down every 65 seconds this year, GVK’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport aka Terminal 2 has become the world’s only single-runway airport to cross the 45-million passenger mark. Thinktank Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has projected that by 2018-19, CSIA will be filled to capacity, handling 48 million fliers a year. T2 replaced a low-rise C-shaped building with a sprawling vertical, integrated space that caters to both domestic and international fliers, has more immigration counters, offers transit hotels, multiple tiers of parking and pick-up points, and a sweeping elevated road that lets you skip the jammed highways and get there faster.
From producers wearing safari suits to film-makers donning tuxedos, Bollywood has over the past 12 years made the switch from being run by a handful of families to being an industry managed by management graduates. The families exist, of course, but the production houses have been corporatised. The Chopras, Johars, Khans and others turn to their corporate honchos to make the right, the most profitable, decisions. While Yash Raj Films (founded by the late Yash Chopra and now run by his son Aditya), UTV Motion Pictures (founded by Ronnie Screwvala) and Dharma Productions (founded by Yash Johar and now run by son Karan) were the pioneers in this space, several other producers and actorsturned-producers now prefer to have a team of management professionals call the shots. In turn, the revenue flowing in has multiplied – the biggest hit of 2005 made about Rs 44 crore, while this year’s top grosser has raked in more than Rs 500 crore

First Published: Jul 21, 2017 14:33 IST