CST pauses in its busy tracks to remember 26/11
Barely 24 hours after he was hanged, Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab had seemingly faded away though memories of the trauma he wrought at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) four years ago remained strong amid the everyday station bustle Thursday.
At CST, where Kasab and his associate Abu Ismail massacred over 50 people, many commuters lit a lamp in front of a memorial to the victims Thursday and also distributed sweets. It was chaos as usual.
Adding to the hubbub were the tap-tap sound of shoeshine boys and the chatter of fisherfolk, who were running around with huge baskets of fish on their heads, ducking every other minute to avoid running into the hurrying officegoers.
Stall owners were served breakfast, refreshments, tea, coffee and juices to their customers. As always, people were seen rushing to catch trains with paper cups in their hands.
It was a normal day for Jason D'Souza, a regular commuter at CST. He remembered vividly the night of Nov 26, 2008 when the terror attack took place.
"I had missed the fast train to Thane and was heading to the rest room when I heard some shots near the outstation train's platform. Initially, I thought someone was bursting crackers. But when I went there, I saw two dead bodies and realised it is an attack," said D'Souza.
"When I could not find a train, I ran towards the exit and got into a bus. I later got down and took a taxi to my home in Thane," he added.
Another regular commuter Sandhya Pol said there was cheer in the air now that Kasab was dead.
Commuters did ponder over the secret manner in which the entire operation took place. Many felt the move was purely political and that there was no concept of justice involved in Kasab's sudden execution.
"It came as a mix of many feelings. We are happy that Kasab is dead, but then he was just a puppet. Moreover, I feel his execution was just a major exercise by the Congress to win votes in the coming general elections," said Ashima Narayanan, a commuter.
"But it is good to see life going back to normal at this historic station. Even the chaos here is good," she added with a smile.
Kasab, the only Pakistani terrorist caught for the November 2008 terror siege in which over 166 people were killed, was hanged Wednesday in Pune's Yerawada jail.
The hanging rekindled the chilling image of him - caught on CCTV cameras - walking down the station with an AK-47 in his hand and backpack casually slung across his shoulders.
The Central Railway from CST covers a distance of 140 km up to Karjat and Kasara in Raigadh (south) and Thane (north) districts and carries over four million passengers every day.