Mumbai News: 26/11 Hero Chhotu Chai Wala Faces Financial Struggle; Tea Business Hit Hard

Mumbai News: 26/11 Hero Chhotu Chai Wala Faces Financial Struggle; Tea Business Hit Hard

The famous chai wala is now grappling with a significant setback in his tea business, burdened by loans amounting to approximately ₹20 lakh.

Megha KuchikUpdated: Thursday, November 23, 2023, 07:41 PM IST
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Mohammad Taufik Shaikh | File pic

Mumbai: Mohammad Taufik Shaikh, also known as Chhotu Chai Wala (38), gained recognition for his heroic actions during the 26/11 attacks when he saved around 10 individuals. Unfortunately, he is now grappling with a significant setback in his tea business, burdened by loans amounting to approximately ₹20 lakh.

Chottu chai wala's heroic tale

Operating a tea stall near Saint George Hospital outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Shaikh was aged 25 during the Mumbai terrorist attack. Initially thinking the loud sounds were firecrackers due to an India vs South Africa cricket match, he soon realised the severity of the situation. Taking swift action, he closed the ticket counter gate, warned others, and evacuated the area, claiming he faced three bullets fired by Kasab.

Recalling the incident, he mentioned, "The first bullet broke the office window, the second hit the table, and then I had to lie down on the floor. Later, I called my wife, telling her I was in danger and might not survive. I contacted the Railway police on the phone."

'Saw people lying on floor, bullets hit them'

He continued, "After some time I came out of the station and saw people lying on the floor, bullets had hit them. I carried those who were alive." He also assisted an injured officer and admitted him to the Railway Hospital in Byculla.

The subsequent pandemic dealt a severe blow to his business, almost shutting it down. To survive, he borrowed money, accumulating a debt of around ₹20 lakh. Despite attempting to mortgage his MHADA home, banks refused to provide loans. Struggling, he shared, "Currently, I am doing my business on credit."

Financial support promised post 26/11

Post the 26/11 incident, promises of financial support poured in, with many railway officers assuring him of a job. Despite being felicitated by the Railway in Delhi, he realized later that the job offer never materialized.

Reflecting on the experience, Shaikh emphasized the need for individual alertness, stating, "Terrorists do not have any religion, they have the mentality to die or to kill people. I pray that an attack like this never occurs again."

Residing in Nahur with his family, Shaikh came to Mumbai at an early age from Mujhaffarpur, Bihar, due to financial difficulties after losing his mother.

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