Senior journalist still haunted by 26/11 sounds and images

PTI Mumbai, Maharashtra, India Nov 25, 2018, 05.59 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

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Ten years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, which claimed 166 lives and left over 300 injured, the 78-year-old senior journalist recalls the stories of valour by security personnel and the resilience shown by Mumbaikars.

The staccato bursts of gunfire, smoke plumes billowing out of the iconic Taj Mahal hotel, bullet-riddled bodies at local hospitals and cries of the victims' kin still flash through Vijay Vaidyas mind.

Ten years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, which claimed 166 lives and left over 300 injured, the 78-year-old senior journalist recalls the stories of valour by security personnel and the resilience shown by Mumbaikars.

Ten terrorists, armed with automatic weapons and grenades, went about firing indiscriminately, carrying out bomb explosions and holding innocents hostage as a fightback by security forces continued for the next 60 hours.

Vaidya, who lives in north Mumbai suburb Borivali, said he was at his home when he learnt about the terror attack. He rang up then Opposition leader in State Assembly and present Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam and together they headed t south Mumbai from Kadams Kandivli residence.

Vaidya said they saw a taxi damaged in a blast in Vile Parle. They headed towards the GT Hospital in south Mumbai, where bodies of policemen killed in the attack were kept.

The duo was joined by BJP leader and now Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde and proceeded towards the Gateway of India, near the Taj hotel.

"All the street lights there were off. The Taj was engulfed by fire. Police had cordoned off the area. The injured in the hotel attack were being taken to Byculla-based JJ Hospital," Vaidya recalled.

From the Gateway, the trio moved towards Nariman House in Colaba, where terrorists were suspected to have holed up.

The scene at the JJ Hospital was heart-wrenching with bodies of victims lying there and their kin mourning the dead, he said. Many people had queued up at the hospital to donate blood to victims, he added.

Vaidya said it was a noisy scene at their next stop, the Oberoi Hotel at the Nariman Point which was also a scene of the terror attack. The hotel premises were cordoned off for security purposes, he said.

The journalist, who also recalled the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, said 26/11 helped change the public perception about Mumbai police. "People started looking at cops as heroes for the way they battled the trained terrorists," he said.