Free Press Journal

“Spirit of Mumbai never dies but do we have a choice” recounts a Former Journalist who covered the 26/11 attacks


Ninad Siddhaye

Ninad Siddhaye, a former journalist, was returning home from his office in Elphinstone Road when one of his friends informed him about the attack at Trident Hotel. He informed his boss about the attack. When he reached his home in Vile Parle, right outside his house there was a taxi explosion in the Western Express Highway. He covered the story. The explosion claimed two lives. The blast was orchestrated by lone arrested terrorist Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail, who had boarded the taxi after getting off at Budhwar Park, to reach CST railway station.

Next day, November 27, Ninad reached the Chabad House at 4:30 pm and was reporting from there. He was 50-60 metres away from the building and witnessed everything from chopper landing to the firings. He was at the spot for two days, without any food. While narrating the incident, Ninad says, “When I was reporting I got a call from my wife to ask about my whereabouts and at the same moment there was a blast 50-60 metres away. She heard the blast and was worried. She shouted and asked me to leave the place”. He further adds, “The gunshots had such deep impact in my mind that for few months even a loud noise or the sound of a firecracker scared me.”

After the operation was over, Ninad visited Chabad House and Hotel Trident. He saw bodies lying in the pool of blood. Narrating his Trident visit he says, “On the third morning I went to Trident and saw a body of a man dressed in a three-piece suit sitting in front of the table. On the table laid fresh fruits.”

Talking about the journalist fraternity who covered the attacks Ninad feels the incident has changed their lives as journalists. He says, “They all were taken aback and few of them even took counseling.” Though four years after 26/11 Ninad left journalism he feels the incident gave him the confidence to try war reporting.

Ahead of 9th anniversary of the dreadful attacks, he feels the incident has taught a lot of things including how to deal with such situations. Ask him what impact the day had on his life, he says, “As a citizen of Mumbai I feel we are still not safe and it can happen anytime. We haven’t learned our lessons yet. It has made me stronger though. We still have the headline ‘The spirit of Mumbai never dies’ but do we have a choice to not have the spirit? We cannot help but be stronger. Life changes after such incidents and it changed mine too.”