Dec 10, 2008

A Salute to the Heroes

(Here's the script I used for Project 8 of Toastmasters at the Chennai Covansys Toastmasters Club [CCTM]. I have used excerpts from my earlier post in this one. This speech project is supposed to use visual aids. I prepared a presentation using the pictures below. Do read through and leave me your valuable comments.)

When was the last time you did not grumble when the railway constable frisked you and your baggage?

Can’t remember??

Did any of us raise a voice against the delay in the effectiveness of the 6th Pay Commission for the Armed Forces?

I doubt!!

Policemen, army jawans, commandos and other such people who we rarely care for… were the true heroes during the Mumbai terror attack. We owe them a salute!!!

Policemen, army jawans, commandos and other such people who we rarely care for… were the true heroes during the Mumbai terror attack. We owe them a salute!!!

Bombay witnessed terror in its cruelest form at over 10 places on the night of November 26th.

Never before had Bombay witnessed this kind of 'on-the-face', 'live', 'real time' terror!!! Also, this time it was not just the average middle class that bore the brunt… but even the rich, elite and the international who were affected.

I believe that the insensitive cowards behind these terror strikes are not even worth a mention. I am instead dedicating this blog post to all those who emerged as winners in those horrifying 60 hours… true heroes!!!

I have a few pictures here to remind us of what happened.

A taxi blew up at Vile Parle. The local residents immediately gathered around to see what was left of the taxi and whoever was inside… here’s what was left...

I wonder if the people there had the faintest idea of what their city was going to witness next.

Victoria Terminus

Two terrorists made Bombay’s Victoria Terminus their war zone. They fired at people just like that. Over 50 people lost their lives in an instant... innocent people who were heading back home after a long day at work... innocent people who were waiting to board trains back to their home-towns. I wonder if those dead travelers knew that it would be last time they packed their bags!!!

Nariman House

After the successful massacre at Leopold’s CafĂ© the killers stormed into Nariman House. We all know what happened there after that. They put up a fight for 2 whole days… killing the Jews who lived there, including the young Rabbi and his wife.

The Taj Burns

With the stage set, panic and chaos at its highest and a sense of achievement the killers took the Taj and Oberoi hotels under their siege. There was maximum damage and loss of life at these two hotels. The terrorists killed guests at random, opened fire at people in the restaurants and also targeted foreign nationals in particular.

We cannot forget...

Horror stories like these bring forth the real heroes.

I have prepared my list of heroes from the 26/11 tragedy. We cannot forget any of them. I may have missed out a few more. I think they all deserve our sincere appreciation.

Mumbai Police

Officers from the Mumbai Police department were the first to take on the terrorists.We lost many senior officers from the Mumbai Police that night. Many other constables and police personnel laid down their lives or got injured while fighting it out.

It is clear that the police were not at all equipped to deal with the heavily armed terrorists. A lot of us are making noises about how our policemen have archaic weapons. It’s easy to sit back in the comforts of our homes and offices and come up with intelligent observations and opinions.

Our policemen, especially those who fought for us that night, deserve our gratitude for not hesitating or giving up just because they were ill-equipped. I want to make a special mention of constable Ombale who took around 30 bullets only to ensure that the terrorist is captured alive. I see Ombaleji as a true hero.

I salute him and the rest of the Mumbai Police!

Armed Forces

India’s jawans have always been there for her in times of troubles… whether its war on the border or natural calamities. This time too the army, RAF and the NSG commandos did their best to contain and capture those who brought terror to Bombay.

I read about this injured jawan who was interviewed in the hospital. He said that there were only two things in the minds of the jawans… ‘marna ya maarna’ which means to kill or die. It moves me to see the passion these young men have for the country and our lives. They deserve our gratitude… not just this time, but always.

I salute the Indian Armed Forces!

Mumbai’s Firefighters

Mumbai’s firefighters were the patient, silent heroes at the Taj and Trident hotels. They helped in the rescue operations and also risked their lives while trying to help the guests in the hotel climb down from their windows. They had no weapons… just the spirit to help despite the risk of losing their own lives.

I salute Mumbai’s firefighters.


However much we may want to criticize the media for their over-the-top coverage of the Mumbai terror attack, I think our young reporters, camerapersons and other media staff who were at the terror locations deserve applause.

They brought terror right into our drawing rooms… but then so what!!! I think this media coverage to a large extent is responsible for stirring up the conscience of the average Indian.

I salute the media for, inadvertently, waking us up!!!

Hotel Staff at Taj and Oberoi

Every survivor from the Taj and Oberoi had a word of praise for the staff of the respective hotels. They truly lived up to the spirit of 'Customer Service Comes First' even as they knew it could mean their end. It is touching to hear how they valued their responsibility towards their guests even more than their own lives. They deserve a special mention because serving the customer under terror was not part of their employment contract nor were they paid for it.

I salute the hotel staff at Taj and Oberoi.

Doctors/ Paramedics

It must have been the busiest week for most of the doctors, nurses and other paramedic staff at hospitals across South Mumbai. Bodies of the dead and casualty cases poured in. To be able to hold on to ones senses in the midst of all the chaos and bloodshed, and above that help with the casualties is a service that is commendable.

I salute our doctors and paramedics.

The Ordinary Mumbaikar

This is one entity that is faceless yet something that I have very high regard for. This terror attack on Mumbai was one more occasion where the ordinary Mumbaikar stepped up to help those in trouble.

I read about this Radio Jockey who was chilling out with friends near VT when all the chaos began. He and his friends did not speed away in their cars; instead they rushed to Cama hospital and helped the staff there with the bodies that were pouring in. To me these boys represent a cross section of the ‘Spirit of Bombay’ – a phrase that has been much abused in the last two weeks.

Mumbai’s New Voice

This terror attack has got strong reactions coming in from the non-political class of our society. We need something as massive as a Civilian Revolution to get ourselves out of where we are. Terrorism is a global disease. We have a lot more ailments within our country to set right before taking on something as deadly as terrorism. We need to start from the basics.

I salute Mumbai’s new voice and the ripple effect it has created across the country.


Here’s something that a friend passed on to me when he thought I was being depressed after this terror attack...

Beyond the door
There's peace I'm sure.
And I know there'll be no more...
Tears in heaven
- Eric Clapton (Tears in Heaven)

It is tough to get philosophical and be optimistic when we are angry and sometimes helpless. But somehow we need to get things moving… if not for us at least for…

… the future of India… our tomorrow!!!

(PS: I got these pictures as a mail forward... Terror captured by someone on camera!!!)


Abhi December 13, 2008 at 10:47 AM  

Yet again, a nice one..

Anonymous,  February 25, 2009 at 9:46 PM  

Very nice post. Pictures just made the time spent on reading more worthwhile!

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