Ten years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Kasab's grin is still etched in Vishnu Zende's memory. The railway announcer's presence of mind saved the lives of hundreds of commuters at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus here that fateful night. "I remember the evil grin on Kasab's face. Armed with an assault rifle, he was walking towards the suburban platform," he said.
Zende, 47, vividly recalls Kasab "grinning and abusing people" while spraying bullets from his assault rifle as the biggest ever terror attack on India unfolded on November 26, 2008. Now working as a guard in the Central Railway, Zende says he is unable to forget the terror attack and the "barbaric" way in which the terrorist went about slaying people.
Of the 166 killed in the 26/11 attack, 52 died at the railway station. As many as 108 were injured in the firing at the station. "While firing indiscriminately, Kasab also waved his hand at us, signalling that we (railway staff) come out of the control room," Zende said.
The terrorist was mercilessly firing at people who were running to save their lives, he said. "When Kasab found nobody to kill at the platform, he also fired at a dog," he added.
"After hearing a loud sound on the long-distance train platform, I first thought it was a blast and started announcing that people should not go near the blast site. I also requested railway police to rush to the site," he said.
As soon as Zende made the announcement, he saw Kasab and a second terrorist coming towards the suburban trains' platform. "That was the moment I realised it was a terror arrack," he said. "I had to alert commuters about the terrorists and started announcing about the attack. I told people to vacate the station immediately," he said.
Zende asked passengers to leave the station from the rear end of Platform No 1 as he felt it was a relatively safe place at that time. The railway staffer who also deposed as a witness in the 26/11 case, said, "I saw two faces of Kasab: one with the evil grin during the firing and a dispassionate one, bereft on any emotion, inside the court room".