26/11 Stories of Strength: Survivors to share accounts of personal triumphhttps://indianexpress.com/photos/india-news/26-11-stories-of-strength-survivors-to-share-accounts-of-personal-triumph-4955418/

26/11 Stories of Strength: Survivors to share accounts of personal triumph

Nine years after terrorists killed at least 166 people in Mumbai on November 26,2008, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, actor Amitabh Bachchan and poet lyricist Prasoon Joshi will take the stage at a memorial event on Sunday to listen to survivor's accounts of their personal triumph over terror in the years since.

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Nine years after terrorists killed at least166 people in Mumbai on November 26,2008, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, actor Amitabh Bachchan and poet lyricist Prasoon Joshi will take the stage at a memorial event on Sunday to listen to survivor's accounts of their personal triumph over terror in the years since. Organised by The Indian Express in partnership with Facebook, the second edition of the Stories of Strength event, directed by Feroz Abbas Khan and to be held at the Gateway of India, will host survivors, particularly children of the victims of the attacks, as they recount their stories of resilience.

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Among the speakers at the event will be Amitabh Bachchan, Prasoon Joshi, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Girish Luthra and Divya Salaskar, daughter of encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar, who will share the stories of strength that have inspired them.

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At a time when many still desired sons, Police Constable Arun Chitte was the happiest man with three daughters, recalls his wife Manisha. “Providing the best possible education to the girls and securing their future was always on his mind,” she says. Even on November 26, 2008, before leaving home, Chitte had handed over Rs 1000 to his wife, asking her to buy a cake and plan elder daughter Komal’s birthday party on November 28. “He never returned home to celebrate, but we have not stopped celebrating Komal’s birthday. Remembering 26/11 does bring tears to my eyes, but it also reminds us of how bravely my husband laid down his life while on duty,” says Manisha. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2iTQ9wa

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“Sir, mera bada dil lalchaya ki main uska pistol cheenkar, usse attack kar kar, bhaag jau (I felt like snatching the officer’s pistol, gunning him down and fleeing)” is what Ajmal Amir Kasab once told me, recalls Arun Chauhan, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mumbai City, when asked for his impressions of the lone terrorist captured alive by the Mumbai Police on November 26, 2008. (PTI Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2Adi2q4

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Ashwini Shinde, 19, currently a second year student pursuing a BCom degree in Business Accounting and Finance (BAF), is divided between two career options. She can either opt for an MBA, or stick to her original plan of becoming a Chartered Accountant. But one thing the family is certain of — the daughter of Bhagan Shinde, a ward boy at Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital who was shot dead by terrorists on 26/11, has come a long way since the tragedy.(Express Photo by Pradip Das) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2zTxV76

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RA Rajeev, then the additional municipal commissioner – city, was watching a cricket match with his seven-year-old son over dinner, back home from work. India had won against England by six wickets — but the celebration was cut short soon after. Rajeev switched to the news to find mayhem at Leopold Café in Colaba – a witness was shouting about firing going on. Over the next few minutes, the situation spread to CST station and the area around. Rajeev called the BMC garage to send him a car, should he have to return to the office. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2i81sUj

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Varun Chowdhary was eight years old when his father Shyam Sunder became a victims of bomb Blast on the western Express Highway in Vile Parle. The Blast has left Shyam Sundar paralyzed form the waist down and altered Varun and his Sister Shikha's life. (Express Photo By Pradip Das) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2zX9git

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For month after the death of her husband Feroz, Amina Khan lost all will to live, she says. It was only the thought of her three children — Irfan, Shifa and Ayan — that made her survive, one day at a time, the 29-year old Nagpada resident says. “I was in a state of shock for months. I do not even remember the weeks after my husband’s death. It was only when I realised that my children need me to be stronger for them that I finally began to accept that I have to go on living,” says Amina. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2zmAz6m

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When Professor P V Viswanath was requested by the Jewish Chabad movement in New York to monitor the Indian media’s coverage of the 26/11 terror attack while it was still underway — Nariman House, where the Mumbai Chabad centre was located, was one of the sites of the attack — he didn’t imagine he would end up talking to a terrorist over the phone. Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2fIb2sK

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Over 27 years of serving the Mumbai Police, Prakash More rose through the ranks from being constable to police sub-inspector, cracking the exams while working full-time. On the night of 26/11, the More family was fast asleep when the call came. His son Pratik, then freshly admitted into an engineering college, answered but the caller wouldn’t say what was wrong. More’s wife Madhavi says, “Only when I asked my brother to call that number and find out what was going were we told of my husband’s death,” says Madhavi. Police Sub-Inspector Prakash More of the L T Marg Police station had been on night duty when he was rushed in a hurriedly cobbled together team to pin down two terrorists holed up on the terrace of the Cama and Albless Hospital. He was killed during the nearly 40-minute encounter that ensued. (Express photo by Pradip Das) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2jntU10

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As he turned eighteen this past year, Rohan Kamble has truly coming of age, although his sudden maturity and clarity about his future have nothing to do with that number. When he spoke to The Indian Express in 2016, Rohan was still toying with the idea of a hotel management degree and a job with the Taj group, where his father had died on the night of November 26, 2008. Earlier he’d considered, along with his father, a career in the armed forces but dropped the idea of Sainik School in order to continue living with his mother and younger brother. But this year, Rohan has not just started on his BCom degree alongside classes for the Company Secretaries Course, but says he is certain that what he really wants is to start a firm and be his own boss. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2AiQNO4

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Bruises left by a bullet that went through his right hand bring back memories of 26/11 almost everyday for Ganesh Sakhare, 26, who lost his Sitaram in the attack at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). “Though eight years have passed, each time my family and me enter CST station and hear any loud noise, it sends a chill down our spine. While my motto is to forget such tragic incidents and move on, the night of 26/11 cannot be forgotten ever,” Ganesh says. At 9.30 pm that night, 13 members of Ganesh’s family were near platform 14 of CST. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2AyN3bb

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Dhaval Waghela, 15, plays an imaginary cover drive and asks younger brother Niraj, 13, if his stance resembles that of Virat Kohli. “Not one bit,” Niraj says, teasing his elder brother who idolises the India team captain. For Dhaval, cricket has been a key distraction after he lost his father Thakur Waghela, an employee at Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital in south Mumbai. The circumstances of Waghela’s death will be remembered by millions — he gave Ajmal Kasab a glass of water to drink on the night of November 26, 2008 when the two gunmen barged into their chawl home located in the lane leading to Cama Hospital. (Express photo by Pradip Das) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2ATkUHT

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Nine-year-old Shaurya has only a vague understanding of how the armed forces work, and he wonders sometimes if he’s fast enough to outrun grenades. But that hasn’t deterred him from making up his mind to join the Indian Army, as a “Class One officer”, his father’s dream. Shaurya’s father, Mumbai Police constable Jaywant Patil, was martyred in the 26/11 attack, among those killed in a police vehicle in the Rang Bhavan lane along with top police officials. “I want to join the army. Because it protects our country,” he says without hesitation when asked about his career plans. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2hDaMPM

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Momina Khatun was four months pregnant when her husband died. A taxi driver, Mohammed Umar Shaikh died when the taxi he was driving exploded in Vile Parle on the night of November 26, 2008. She had three older boys too, and with not even a school education to back her, she knew she wouldn’t be getting any jobs. Nine years later, her eldest son Arbaz, 14, has begun to slowly comprehend just what his mother, now 40, as endured over these years. (Express Photo by Pradip Das) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2zjrV8w

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Ilyas Ansari, then 40, must have been happy on November 26, 2008 as he boarded younger brother Isareel’s taxi from Mumbra in the far suburbs of the financial capital to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus along with his elder brother, their children and other relatives. Ilyas, a cook in a restaurant, was heading home to his native village Dhab in Bihar’s Nawada district (Sirdala block) after finalising his elder daughter Salma Khatoon’s marriage. Hours later, Ilyas and five other members of the family were dead, including two children, all from bullet injuries at the train station. Nine years later, Ilyas’s son Mohammed Qayyum Ansari, 18, says the family is still struggling to get back on its feet, the government jobs for victims’ kin having been snapped up by uncles. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2mCQ2tc

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“Forgiveness came very easy,” says Linda Ragsdale, an illustrator and author who was shot at in the November 26, 2008 terror attacks. Linda was on a tour with meditation group Synchronicity Foundation when terror struck Mumbai. A dinner at the Oberoi Hotel’s Tiffin restaurant is an event that reshaped her life. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2gLDH1Q

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Somewhere in his Thane flat, Floyd Martis, 24, still has the blood-stained documents and a bullet he picked up nine years ago from inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The documents had been in his dead father’s pocket. The bullet he had found lying on the marble floor. “It’s to remember him,” he says. Nine years after Faustine Martin, then 49 and head steward at the hotel’s Sea Lounge restaurant, died after being shot in the head, Floyd now plans to marry next year, a love marriage to a friend from engineering college. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2hFM8Oz

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Exactly three months before the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, little Shubham Bhosale, then 14 months old, lost his mother to a bout of jaundice. Then, when terrorists opened fire in the lobby of the Oberoi Hotel on the night of 26/11, among the first to die was his father Sarjerao Bhosale, a security guard at the hotel. Now 10 years old, seated outside his home in Kolhapur’s Nile village, 375 km from Mumbai, Shubham says he enjoys cricket and kabaddi, he’s an all-rounder on the cricket field, and his favourite subject in school is math. As he talks about school and his life in Nile, Shubham repeatedly refers to his father’s younger brother and his wife as ‘mummy’ and ‘papa’. The Class IV student says he wants to become an engineer. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2jAgKkZ

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The last memory Bharat Gujar, a staffer at Leopold Cafe, has of the night of November 26, 2008 is of his colleague asking him to take charge of the billing counter while he took a quick 15-minute break. “It was about 9.30 pm that night. I was waiting for my colleague to return so I could head back to the kitchen when I suddenly heard a loud explosion. I couldn’t see much as the tube-lights were destroyed and the room was filled with smoke. I heard continuous gunfire and all I could see was a hand lobbing a grenade towards us. I tried to hide behind the billing counter but a grenade fell nearby and the shrapnel hit me. I then lost consciousness.” (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2n35Khq

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Anjali and Viraj Navadia, 11 and 10, have no recollection of their mother Poonam. All they know about her is that she was killed when terrorists attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Poonam, then 26, was shot dead at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus while her husband Bharat, a small-time cloth merchant, was seriously injured. The couple, residents of Vasai in the far suburbs of Mumbai, were on their way to Kolkata with their children, then toddlers. “We have seen our mother only in photographs and heard about her from our father and relatives. We don’t know what she was like,” says Viraj. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2is7lsk

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In August 2003, when a bomb exploded near the Gateway of India in Colaba, Santosh Veer and his friends, all Shiv Sena activists, rushed from their homes about half a kilometre away. They helped cart the injured to hospitals, arranged first aid, helped the police pick up corpses. Now shakha pramukh or branch head of Ward No 227 of the Shiv Sena, Veer is grave when he says 26/11 will not be the last attack. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2AxMkqO

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Almost eight years after a tragedy tore through her life yet again, Damayanti Goyal got her passport made earlier this year. She undertook her maiden journey abroad, alone, to Amsterdam where she spent three months with her grand niece. It was the first time she had tried to enjoy herself since losing her 25-year-old son Haresh to an AK-47 bullet that came zipping out of Nariman House in Colaba, clearly visible from her own top floor home in an old, ramshackle apartment building. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2jX9cJ4

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The Ashoka Chakra citation for Havildar Gajendra Singh Bisht and a photograph of his wife Vinita receiving the posthumous honour from former president Pratibha Patil adorn one of the walls of the National Security Guard (NSG) commando’s house in Dehradun. On another wall are photographs of Bisht’s children, Preeti, 18, and Gaurav, 20, most of them shot in the years after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, their father absent in their growing-up frames. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2zAkpFB

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Nivedita Shinde still writes letters to her father, nine years after he died, often signing off with an “I love you, dad”. Nivedita, 23, lost her father Shashank Shinde, then senior police inspector with the Government Railway Police (GRP), at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on November 26, 2008. “I write a letter to him on his birthday every year, and on Father’s Day. In these letters I express everything that I am feeling and I tell him about what’s happening in our lives. It is the only way I have to communicate with him,” she says. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2ALi2gm

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Arm around her younger sister, her face solemn, 16-year-old Anjali Gupta says, “I’d like to make sure she’s settled first. I’ll get married afterwards.” With her bright pink nails and a faux silver necklace, she’s like any teenager. Until she begins to talk about life after November 26, 2008. Her father Vinod Gupta, then 31, was dropping his mother off at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus from where she was to board a train to Patna. When the terrorists opened fire, one bullet pierced his heart. His mother Malathidevi suffered bullet injuries to her waist and a leg. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2A02wR9

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Just a month after the 26/11 attacks, Chief Ticket Inspector S K Sharma’s family launched an organisation in their hometown of Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, to support charitable causes. Called the Shaheed Sushil Kumar Sharma Foundation, it now offers free education to girl from weak socio-economic backgrounds, alongside a handful of courses in painting and self defence, among others. Sharma, who was posted at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on the night that terrorists struck at the busy train station, was hit by a bullet and died as he tried to rush home to celebrate son Aditya’s birthday. He turned 13 that day. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2zFPRCa

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On the night it prowled the streets of Mumbai, death came for Prakash Mandal, then 25, in the form of a single assault rifle bullet that pierced his head from behind. He was waiting at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai to board a train to Chennai, late by an hour, when the indiscriminate firing began on the night of November 26, 2008. Four years later, his wife Mamta Devi decided to make a fresh start, marrying her late husband’s youngest brother. The alliance was initiated by none other than her mother-in-law, says Mamta, whose daughter Shilpi, now 13, also has a baby sister, Sandhya, soon to turn two years old. (Express Photo) Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2yAaY5q