They faced death, and survived

During the November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks, the photojournalist husband-wife duo of Shriya Patil-Shinde and Anand Shinde spent nearly 60 hours shooting the site of the attacks for the media publications they were attached to at the time.

Shriya Patil Shinde

Case study
Along the way, Shriya met several bystanders who showed great courage in the face of terror; however, the media had skipped mentioning them. After a few weeks, she took leave, and tracked down such cases, as she began to frame their stories. Shinde, with over 13 years of experience as a photojournalist, was unsure about where the profiles could be featured so, she uploaded 12 of them on her blog. “There were many people at Ground Zero who witnessed the events and had their own stories but they never got written about; many others got the attention,” recalls Shinde.

Mohammed Tofiq Shikh Mohammed Tofiq Shikh, also known as Chotu Chaiwala, of CST railway station was serving tea on platform 8 and 9 when the terrorists attacked the station. He helped transport the injured to St George hospital. Pics Courtesy/ Shriya Shinde

She adds that her attempt was to tell their stories through photographs. She was able to capture the shock in their eyes, sensitively while shooting them in their original environment. Shinde met with people within a few weeks of the attacks when their memories were fresh. Some of her subjects included police inspector Deepak Dhole who led a group of stranded people at the Taj Mahal Hotel to safety and Ruksana Jehangir Tomboli, a CST railway station toilet money collector who flung her coins in self-defense when she faced the terrorists.

Ruksana Jehangir Tomboli 
Tomboli, who is a toilet money collector at CST railway station, flung coins at the attackers in self-defense and rushed inside during the attacks. She ended up working all night to wash the blood stains on the platform. 

Reach out
“I wanted to document these people’s memories and their unsung heroism through my blog. It was a time when the dedication and humanity of ordinary citizens stood out. These are common people who encountered uncommon incidents,” she reminisces.

Deepak Dhole 
On November 26, Dhole, who was the police inspector from Colaba police station, was stranded on the second floor of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, with eight others. He led the group to safety, even as they took turns carrying the body of a slain jawan. Due to the raging fire, Dhole sustained burn injuries on his face.

There were occasions when Shinde had a tough time tracking some of her case studies. “It took hours to narrate their stories or I had to make several visits to spot them as many didn’t work at a single location,” admits Shinde, who met people before / after work and in between shoots. “As a professional photographer, we end up shooting only clichéd themes and events. But this project was about pursuing my passion,” she reveals.

Shinde hopes to eventually publish these images in a book or in some other form in the near future for more people to be aware of these valiant heroes who walk among us leading their lives, silently..

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