The Telegraph
Thursday , November 22 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Echo stays with announcer
- Saviour zende recalls

Mumbai, Nov. 21: Central Railway announcer Vishnu Zende, whose presence of mind saved hundreds at CST station minutes after Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail had stormed in guns blazing, said the news of this morning’s execution brought it all back.

“When I heard the news of Kasab’s execution, I remembered those horrifying moments,” the 37-year-old said. “My eyes filled with tears.”

Nearly 60 people died in the attack at the station.

Zende was on duty announcing trains at the section when he learnt of a melee in the adjacent long-distance section the gunmen had sneaked into through a back entrance.

The moment he heard the gunshots, Zende started warning commuters. Through repeated announcements, he asked them not to move towards the danger end but walk out through the exit facing the municipal corporation headquarters.

His voice calm, he continued making the announcements through a large glass window that gives announcers an overview of all the seven suburban platforms.

When Kasab and Ismail entered the suburban section and spotted Zende, they fired at him. He ducked.

Zende was later felicitated as a 26/11 braveheart and even invited by the US consulate for an event at the Taj Mahal Hotel when Barack Obama visited Mumbai in November 2010. The US President shook hands with him. “He told me I did a good job,” Zende recalled.

If Zende saved lives, Devika Rotawan played a key role in Kasab’s conviction. The 14-year-old from Rajasthan, who was hit by bullets and now moves with the help of crutches, identified Kasab in court as one of the two gunmen who had opened fire at the station.