I did not think for myself in those few moments. There were hundreds of people dying,’ Mohammad Taufiq Sheikh recalls the doomed day of Mumbai terror attacks.
It was another Chai-selling day for him, when India-aware team reached to Chhotu Chai-wala, a brave face who alerted passengers about the bomb during 26/11 Mumbai attacks. His original name is Mohammad Taufiq Sheikh.
In the year 2008, he was a normal tea-vendor at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus where 26/11 Mumbai attacks happened and still does the same job even more diligently. We all know the bravery-saga he carved for himself on that night. The only thing that differentiates him is that it was not his duty to save as many lives as possible, taking injured victims to nearby hospitals, working overnight while taking care of the whole mess and voluntarily distributing chai (tea), to everybody next morning. Even after passing almost a decade without any considerable reward, he does not expect much for his brave act. He took it as a duty towards humankind, which makes him the surviving hero of 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Earlier, He Thought those were Fireworks for India’s Cricket Win
His chronicle started with the memories of his normal routine on that day. Since, he sold tea all over the CST area; he often waited to collect payments. Like every day, he was standing near a medical store, waiting and hearing the sounds of fireworks on the occasion of India’s win over England in a cricket inning.
It did not take him more than few seconds to realize that, not all of the sound was coming from fireworks. He saw some petrified people running and shouting. He immediately ran towards the ticket counter and told people to move, as there was, “Bomb”. Some police constables shouted at him saying that, it was just a short circuit. He got inside the cabin and explained to officials that, it’s not short circuit as the wire was connected through the ground.
Acted Dead, When Kasab Entered the Room
All of them panicked and decided to run out, but he suggested them to stay under the tables and hide. There was already enough chaos outside on road. It was a few seconds later when a bullet crossed the glass wall and injured one of the officers. Some minutes passed and Chhotu faced Ajmal Kasab walking towards him and firing all over the area. Ajmal Kasab was the member of Lashkar-e-Taliba and face behind Mumbai attacks. He was hanged in November 2012 for partaking in Mumbai bomb blast attacks.
In those few minutes, Chhotu did something that would have been hard for even some trained police officers to pursue. Kasab abused him and started firing in that room. He saved himself from his bullets by acting dead. After Kasab left that room, he went out and took many injured people to the hospital.
Saved Lives by Taking Injured People to the Hospital
Many people asked him not to go out but he said, “If I am saved, that’s my luck and if someone else lives, it’s his luck. I must do what I need to do”.
When asked about PM Modi, he explains that he is happy and feels that Modi ji is a good person. However, people working under him must realize their duties as well.
Happy to See Modi as PM and Expects More Employment
The government assured him a job in the department of railways, but nine years on he still sells tea without even a frown of complaint.
He says that “I never did what I did for any award, but I have received 28 awards since then and a promise that I would get a job in the railways. A promise which is still not fulfilled. If it was the son of a minister or politician who had done the same thing, God knows how much they would have done for him, but at the end of it, I’m a poor chaiwallah and I have no regrets. The recognition given by some very good organizations, give me hope and courage to do the same thing all over again”.
His helper and younger brother wish that he at least gets the license for his tea-selling point in CST.
26/11 Mumbai attacks was a black day for many families and dying people, but somewhere brave heroes like Mohammad Taufiq Sheikh did everything possible to make that pain passable.
Watch the full video, to know more about his life and his ‘special cutting chai’.