MUMBAI, India, Dec. 4, 2008 -- The terrorists who attacked the historic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station in Mumbai last week were thwarted by a smattering of police officers belonging to the city's Railway Protection Force, authorities said today.
Sub-Inspector Kiran Bhosale told ABC News how he and Inspector Sandeep Khiratkar and Constable Jhullu Yadav took on the two terrorists and prevented them from taking hundreds of people hostage inside the train station.
Initially mistaking the sounds of firing for firecrackers, which are popular at many Indian celebrations, Bhosale recalled the moment when he realized that two gunmen were inside the station.
"I took up the pistol and took up some bullets" before heading toward Platform 1, he said. On the way there, he said, "I suddenly saw two terrorists with AK-47 ... and I saw there were hundreds of people standing towards the opposite side of the station."
"There were two options," he said, "whether I shoot on them or whether they shoot on me and I started sudden fire on them and because of this, they started fire on me."
Bhosale's split-second decision might have saved hundreds of lives by distracting the two attackers from their murderous rampage.
Yadav attacked the terrorists from one side of the station while Bhosale and Khiratkar shot at them from the other side. The two men evaded police fire and got out of the station.
After they escaped from the station, according to Hassan Gaffoor, the Mumbai police commissioner, the two attackers "were at a loss what to do and therefore they went towards Cama hospital and they fired in Cama hospital."
"But when our additional commissioner of police Mr. Date faced them and fought with them, after injuring him very badly and killing his officer, they tried to escape" but failed, Gaffoor said during a news conference attended by ABC News.
One of those two men -- identified by Mumbai police as Ajmal Amir Kasav -- is now in police custody. The other was killed. The two men are also believed to have planted an 18-pound bomb inside the station, which was discovered and defused by the Mumbai Police Bomb Squad.
Bhosale remembered seeing Kasav, 21, the night of Nov. 26 at the station. "Actually, he was just 50 to 70 steps from me, I saw he was having one AK-47 rifle in one hand and I understand that they are very trained, they were trained very well."
Moreover, he said, "they were smiling actually, they are very cool that time when they are firing on people ... on innocent people, ladies and children."
Kasav and his fellow attacker were not just well-trained, according to Gaffoor. They also outclassed Mumbai's police in terms of weaponry.
"Each of these attackers had an AK assault rifle, a pistol, several hand grenades and some bullets, each AK had six loaded magazines that comes to 300 rounds and they had spare magazines for each pistol," Gaffoor said.
In contrast, Bhosale had "a pistol," some bullets and a hefty dose of courage.
"I fired around 22 rounds on them," he said. "Actually, my job is to save those people and whatever they [the attackers] have, they [should] target on me."
Still, he acknowledged the vast gap in the weapons available to him and those used by Kasav. "They are firing with AK-47 and I have a pistol. The range is different, the capacity is different, we need weapons."
The call for better weapons was echoed by Constable Ajitkumar Nalawade, who was also present at the railway station that night.
"I heard firing near one of the railway toilets," Nalawade told ABC News.
As the terrorists threw a grenade and ran from Platform 14 toward Platform 8, he pursued them, armed only with a 9-mm pistol.
"I was firing at them continuously, I fired some 14 rounds but then one of my bullets got stuck," he said.
"We need automatic weapons," he said. "These guys were firing endlessly at whoever was in front of them and people were just falling."
"So many policemen died that day."
Many of those in the railway station, like Bhosale, would not even have worn a bulletproof vest.
"That was a sudden attack, we were not prepared for this," Bhosale said.
Despite those drawbacks, a handful of police officers prevented the station from becoming a hostage site.
As Bhosale recalled the encounter with the two terrorists, he said, "I could have died, but I didn't think of it."