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Lessons From 26/11

Singer Shibani Kashyap was in J W Marriot, when the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks happened attending the launch of Bikram hot yoga spa. During the event there was a sudden panic among people there and everyone seemed to just run out of the hotel as if they were escaping from something! Horror-stricken, she discovered that there was a terrorist scare and the hotel was one of the targets! So she and 8 of her friends also rushed out of there!
Like Shibani many people were caught not only at this hotel, which was one of the intended targets but eventually was not attacked, but in and around Fort and Colaba areas. Many lost their lives and many were injured. Many fortunately saved themselves and came out of death’s very jaws without even a scratch.
My sister was one of the people being caught in the cross fire at Fort. Luckily she was inside the Times of India building and escaped unhurt when she with some of her colleagues decided to leave the place in a taxi all the way to where she lived in the suburbs. It was a nightmare for us, her family who were safe. The purpose of this article is to go over what happened on that day, with the Paris attacks being fresh in our minds. The sister or brother or parents or anybody else of anybody should get caught in such situations.
“I was standing in front of the gate at 9.30 as usual in the evening on 26th November, when 2 ladies came and asked if they could book a table. After 5 minutes, 2 terrorists came and threw a hand grenade inside the café, instantly killing 10 people including foreigners. I took the small lane near the café towards Taj President Hotel and ran for my life. I live nearby, so it was easy for me to save myself. Later, police reported that the death toll was more than 25,” that was Eric Anthony, Manager of Leopold Café, which was one of the first places to be hit by the 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks.
“I was doing my clinical training at Bombay Hospital during that time and I was studying late in the evening. I was actually heading home when the first wave of patients came in but it was being attributed initially to some gang war and not a terrorist attack. We had patients with multiple gunshot wounds and there weren’t a lot of doctors in the hospital as most of the consultants had already gone home and many of the residents had left for the evening. It was pandemonium really because patients were screaming and it was literally all hands on deck as everyone had to be involved to resuscitate and evaluate patients as they came in. I did everything from treating burn victims to setting fractures and even running for blood to the blood bank. It seemed to be never ending as patients were just flowing in one after the other. There were some patients that were dead on arrival but the mortality was quite low. My initial reaction was one of shock especially while hearing the accounts from the patients. I mean we as doctors literally relived the entire incident and psychologically speaking we all became victims that night. On a personal note I think that night really hardened me for ensuring that I do not let emotions affect my capability and judgment as a doctor,” says Dr. Shiblu Shamshuddin.
We asked Gauri Chadha of Gawah (an award-winning short documentary) fame, about capital punishments and the Kasab hanging, when she replied, “Nonetheless, would I say I agree with capital punishments for such heinous acts of mass murder but the judicial system of India and the Government must have had their reasons to deliver the punishment in secrecy. With his hanging, the chapter called ‘Kasab’ is over. But what about those offenders who brainwashed them and sent the terrorists here? There is enough evidence against them..! The President of India has shown a great heart by rejecting Kasab’s mercy petition but what about those pending mercy petitions for such acts of mass murder? Can we not send out a strong message to the world that India will not tolerate this?”
But as Dr. Shiblu says, “Well if you ask me that incident showed us how vulnerable we are still to attacks but that was the first time I witnessed the resilience of the people of Mumbai, of India. I think security begins at home, it has really taught us that. We need to eliminate the doubt and animosity that exists at a subliminal level especially when this has been created by nothing but politics. We need to get our house in order and even though there have been plans that have taken off, it hasn’t reached the desired level. We as people need to do something, I don’t believe that only politicians are to blame, the blame begins with us and it’s up to the people to begin and amalgamate change, be it with security, economy, whatever.”

About Yashaswini K

Controversy is the second name of Yashaswini. She goes where something is amiss and picks up the threads to make a clear story out of it.

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