Anjali Kulthe, a staff nurse of the Cama and Albless Hospital had been summoned to the Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai. She was supposed to identify a suspect. The incident involving that suspect was the cause of her nightmare. A month had passed after that horror night, Anjali could still hear gun shots echoing.
She was afraid at first, but the police convinced her to testify. Her family were afraid too pleased. She went for the identification parade anyway.
Anjali’s idea of identification parade was different than what actually happens. She has thought her identity will be kept secret. to her horror, she had to point out the suspect in front of everyone.
She touched the suspects shoulder and identified him.
But instead of fear, all she saw on the man’s face was a vicious smile. He congratulated her on her accuracy, saying, “You are right. I am Ajmal Kasab.”
November 26, 2008, the date that India will never forget. Mumbai witnessed terror attacks at prominent spots of the city. While the terrible day is mostly remembered for the chaos that took place, it also brought many heroes into light who risked their lives to save others.
Anjali was not night shift and was in charge of antenatal ward. through the window of her ward on the first floor, she saw terrorists Ajmal Kasab and his tall partner, Abu Ismail.
The duo, who had jumped from the gate of the hospital at the rear-end, entered the premises and had killed two guards, Bhanu Narkar and Baban Walu.
Upon seeing two lifeless bodies laying in a pool of blood at the entrance, she quickly ran and slammed the heavy double doors of the antenatal care ward.
The terrorists were running up the floor. She moved all the pregnant women and some of their family members into a small pantry.
Ismail had fired two bullets in their direction from the window. One bullet bounced off the wall and grazed an ayah’s hand, due to which she started bleeding profusely.
Once the terrorists had moved to second floor Anjali quickly alerted a doctor on duty, who dialled the police for help. She took the ayah to the casualty to tend to her wounds.
The firing continued for over an hour, and the terrorists started throwing hand grenades at the police team that had arrived.
Just as Anjali and the other staff hoped everything had ended, one of the patients in the ward went into labour.
A delay would have cost two lives. So Anjali decided to risk her own life to help them.
In an interview Anjali had said, “Holding the patient’s hand, I walked up along the stairway wall, my mind only on the unborn baby’s safety,”
She was able to safely deliver the baby with the assistance of doctors.
The staff of the hospital had shown exceptional bravery and presence of mind. they became human shields for all their patients.
After 50 minutes of firing, Kasab and Khan eventually fled, injuring several policemen.
The situation was brought under control after 12 long hours.
When whole chaos came to rest mumbai started to move on in its usually buzz. But Anjali find this very disturbing. she said, “I could not understand how everybody was so normal and how they could go about life as usual. I wanted to shout and tell everyone that something was wrong.”
Her uniform had become her source of strength. For a month, even the slightest noise wouldn’t let her sleep.
After a month passed, Anjali had to face a test of her bravery all over again. She had to identify Ajmal Kasab. When she saw his face with a vicious smile, with no trace of remorse, she felt scared she got worried about her and family’s safety. She started to have nightmares again.
The next time she was summoned to testify against the terrorist in court, she went in her uniform for confidence. A session of cross interrogation was done by Kasab’s lawyer. But she was brave and did not flinch even once.
“When I walked out of the court, some policemen saluted me. I don’t think I could have answered so fearlessly and boldly if I had gone in normal clothes,” she said.
Even after a decade passed, the memories keep coming back and they are hard to fade away. The hospital now keeps the entry to the terrace and the rear exit locked.
But even years after the attacks, Anjali’s only regret is that, these people who risked their lives that night did not even get a due appreciation.
She stood in front of him, identified him, faced cross examination without hesitation but it took our judicial system a very long time to bring that man to justice.
The politics stooped to a new low when that terrorist was given five star treatment. When people who fought against him lost peace in their life, some even lost their life, there were people who went to a great extent to bring stay to his death sentence.
Let us keep these brave hearts in our thoughts and prayers. And let’s appreciate them and reassure them – Your sacrifices will be remembered.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth