Terror, Step By Step

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They had sailed past the coast guards, past the Naval lines of defence and now that Mumbai was only a speedable four to five nautical miles away, they, indeed, had little worry. Jannat was the last stop in their motivated, indoctrinated heads and as they walked ashore, only kilometers away from their intended mayhem, it was easy to brush off Ajay Mistry, one of the many eyewitnesses of what was to unfold for the next 60 hours.

Men with backpacks are unusual even for residents accustomed to tourists’ boat rides

MISTRY RECALLS seeing six men get off at the fishermen’s coast in the Cuffe Parade area near Sassoon dock. He remembers them being dressed smartly in navy blue and black. They appeared to be in their early twenties, like college kids, Mistry recalled. Another eyewitness, a teenager who came out of his house where he had been engrossed watching the ‘gentleman’s game’ — the India vs England match — says there were few people outdoors that day because of the batball duel. He asked the young men what they were doing there, to which one of them said they were college students and had just come back from a boat ride. Another eyewitness, Anita Rajendra Udaayar was told, “apna kaam karo” (do your work), when she queried, asking them what they were doing there. Men with oversized backpacks strapped on their backs was an unusual sight even for the residents accustomed to tourists taking boat rides.

Ready for action The army throws a protective cordon around the Oberoi
Ready for action The army throws a protective cordon around the Oberoi Photo: AP

Ironically, few will argue now that the ease with which they came, undetected, resembled a boat ride.

Mistry recalls the time he saw the men — 8.30 pm is what he puts it at. An hour later — in which more people had stepped out of their homes as diners — two gunmen with AK 47s, deadly assault rifles that kill in bursts, walked into the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Making no pretense of concealing the Kalashnikovs, the two — they now have names: Kasav and Abu Ismail — walked on to platform number 13, also close to the entrance of the railway station.

They knew of a police jeep coming to Cama, the first sign that they were carrying mobiles

CST was their first port of call and they fired with gusto and sprayed death, firing randomly at the passengers on the crowded platform. Chaos ensued as shouts, screams and wails engulfed the platform. Those who survived the bursts ran around in panic, not knowing what had hit them. Anand Shelgaonkar, a cleaner at the station, then saw one of the two terrorists lob a hand grenade right in the middle of the station. A splinter or a bullet — it was too chaotic to tell — hit the chest of a railway employee whose job it was to announce train arrivals and departures.

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