Syed Firdaus Ashraf for Rediff
Mumbai, July 11: For Hitesh Shah, travel by train will never be the same again. At around 6.20 pm, Shah was on a Western Railway foot over-bridge, crossing from Mahim West to the East, when he heard a loud bang. He looked down to see a train moving quickly beneath the bridge, coming to a halt a few seconds later.
At first, he assumed it was a short circuit that led to the halt. When he took a second look, he saw dead bodies flying out of the Borivali-bound fast train. Blood was flowing like a river all around. "People were screaming for help and many were jumping out from other compartments. No one knew what was happening," he recalls.
Without fearing for his life, he ran down to the tracks to help people trapped in the train. The first class compartment, where the bomb was placed, had been reduced to a tangled mass of metal in seconds. When the blast occurred, people standing at the platform waiting to board other trains were also swept off their feet.
People staying around Mahim station soon arrived in large numbers to help the trapped passengers. Heavy rains didn't deter them from the rescue operations.
"It was gruesome," says Shah. "I saw mutilated bodies. I don't think anyone in that compartment could have come out alive. The intensity of the blast was very high. Some people got sheets from their homes to take out the dead. Those who were breathing were immediately rushed to the nearest hospital."
Tulsi Pipe Road, which runs parallel to Mahim station, witnessed another horrifying scene as locals began dumping dead bodies on the street and trying to save the injured with a sense of urgency. Traffic leading to Dharavi was brought to a halt and diverted via Lady Jamshedji Road.
Locals were seen consoling unknown passengers who couldn't believe their near and dear ones were no more. Some women couldn't bear the sight and started vomiting on account of the bloodstains on their bodies. Many started walking away from the station after realizing that the trains would not move further.
"We stopped many cars and tempos to take the bodies," says Rajesh Varma, a local resident of Dharavi. "Every person on the road was co-operative and there was no sign of the police."
The blast happened on platform 3, when the train left. Surprisingly, there were four trains at the station at almost the same time when the incident occurred.
Krishna Mishra, who was in a slow train bound for Borivli, said there was no sign of the police for almost an hour. "The least they can do at times like this is arrive on time," he says. "Even when they came, they were beating and shooing away rescuers who were helping the injured."
Many locals are angry that the government had done little to save the lives of ordinary people. "We should not give these terrorists bail. They need to be hanged in public," says J Singh, another commuter. "There is no law and order. These were innocent people who had nothing to do with politics, but they lost their lives."