HT's senior editors on what they were doing when terror struck Mumbai.mumbai Updated: Nov 12, 2011 02:06 IST
Senior Editor, Mumbai
I reached my home in south Mumbai believing that the shooting was a result of gang warfare. I soon found out it wasn't. I hired the lone cab outside my colony for the night.
I first went to the intersection outside Metro cinema, where a senior photographer I know from a rival newspaper was standing among a knot of journalists, looking dazed. When he answered in monosyllables, I thought he was being pathologically competitive. I later found out that a bullet had just missed him. I headed to St George Hospital, where bodies arrived in the dozens from CST. Among them were labourers heading home to Bihar, a family going to the Konkan. Their relatives stood by paralysed by grief. A friend called to say she knew someone who was trapped in the Taj. I dialled his number. He said, ‘They're here. We're hiding. I hope they don't find us.'
Senior Assistant Editor, Mumbai
We were almost done for the day on the Metro newsdesk when we first heard reports of gunfire at Leopold's. A gangland shooting in Colaba… it's been a long time, I thought. Then reports began trickling in of gunfire at the Taj and the Oberoi. I looked to the crime editor for some clue on what was going on. He looked as confused as we were. They can't be connected, I thought. That's absurd. Soon it was clear that they were connected. Then we heard that ATS chief Hemant Karkare had been shot dead at one of the terror sites. As I turned to the TV screens and watched the siege unfold, as we planned a revised edition and a special afternoon edition for the next day, I remember, for the first time in my eight years on the job, feeling frightened by the news we were putting on our pages.
Saji K Thomas
Design Editor, Mumbai
We were busy bringing out the edition when reporters started calling in, saying there had been a gangland shootout in Colaba. In a short while, it became clear that this was something much bigger. The newsroom was suddenly very tense. I did not even get the time to watch what was happening on TV. The editor and other senior staff had come back to the office and we were planning a completely new front page. The telephone lines were jammed. I finally got through to my wife around 2 am to tell her I was still at work. The ride home is normally filled with banter; that night there was only a deathly silence. No one felt like talking.
Chief Photographer, Mumbai
At first, I assumed that the firing being reported across SoBo was a gangwar. What else could it be? En route to the Taj, I was told it was a terrorist attack. As I passed Leopold, I took pictures of bullet-riddled walls. There wasn't another person on the road. I reached the waterfront and saw a group of police officers rushing the same way. I started clicking as they walked towards the Taj. Suddenly, there was a flash and a boom as two grenades were hurled at them. We stood still, stunned, the reality of the situation slowly sinking in. For the next five minutes, I could not hear a thing. I saw two policemen shouting and waving at us to get back. I could hear people screaming and the rattle of gunfire. I would remain there for two days, and I remember how strange it felt to be taking pictures when so many lives were at stake.