Announcer saved thousands of lives

Announcer saved thousands of lives

 However, since 26/11, passengers from the nook and corner of the country who pour in to the metropolis make it a point to find it out and some of them then barge in –– with the permission of the authorities or even without.

Their purpose is just to meet Vishnu Dattaram Zende, an announcer with the Central Railways. Putting his life into danger, Zende had saved the lives of thousands of passengers by alerting them through repeated announcements to vacate the premises and not to enter the CST on 26/11 night.

Zende was on duty on that fateful night and was making announcements from his cabin, from where he could see the platforms.

He then heard a loud explosion in the outbound trains section of the terminus and saw passengers running towards suburban side. He also heard the sound of firing.
“I immediately alerted GRP and RPF to go towards the main side,” Zende said. On seeing that there were four local trains on the platforms, Zende began telling passengers through the public address system that they should leave the terminus through its north exit.

“I announced that there is some danger on this side and asked them to leave from the rear end of the station in Hindi and Marathi,” the announcer said. Within a few minutes, the two terrorists who had entered the CST –– Ajmal Kasab and his accomplice Abu Ismail — emerging from the main section and walking towards platform number four, banged opposite his cabin.

“One of them, (who was later identified as Abu Ismail) was shooting and the short one (identified as Kasab) was loading his rifle,” he recalled.

Zende was in face to face with death. He stopped his announcements as the terrorists were now in front of his cabin. When Zende’s colleague rushed to switch off the lights, one of the terrorists immediately fired from his AK-47 towards the cabin. “By god’s grace, no one was hurt,” Zende said. The duo then went towards platform number one and through the stone foot over bridge, moved out of the CST.

During the past one year, numerous passengers must have shaken hands with Zende. Those who come to meet him are always curious to listen to what happened on that night from him. And unfailingly and without fatigue, Zende recalls the ghastly nightmare with the people. Many times his narration brings tears in the eyes of those who listen intently.

While the people express their gratitude, the government as well as the railways were not far behind in acknowledging his heroic act.
He got bravery awards, and has kept to his heart thousands of letters and certificates from people expressing their gratitude.

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