My day when Parliament was attacked on 13 Dec 2001 !

Since morning today almost every news channel is covering stories around Afzal Guru’s hanging. And as I see all those reporters who were present in the Parliament on the day it was attacked by terrorists sharing their experiences of the day, it reminds me and brings back memories of that 13th day of December, 2001.

On that day I was about 500 metres away from Parliament, working on a project at out client UNI’s office (one of India’s leading news agency) with my colleague Phanish Patil who was in Delhi from Pune to work on the same project. Our usual time to reach UNI’s office was at around 10 am, and that day too we were there by same time and had settled down. We were working and having some discussion around project in the IT room, suddenly one of  UNI’s staff member literally shouted

“Hey, what’s this Sharma saying? Terrorist attack on Parliament”

while still looking at his chat window of their proprietary software which was also used to transmit news stories from Parliament’s media room. Every newspaper/tv channel/ news agency has their setup in Parliament’s media room (might have some other name than Media room, don’t remember clearly) to transmit all news on Parliament’s session in progress. I and Phanish were still working while our ears on the discussion happening in background. Mr Sharma was asked again what is he saying and other IT staff members started pulling his leg and their was lot of laughter around,  in which two of us also joined. That lasted for a minute or two and Mr Sharma asked everyone to switch on the television and see it for real. And the moment television was switched on everyone was shocked and couldn’t believe that it’s actually true and was glued to the screen. Then Mr Sharma called in from Parliament and said no one knows exact details about how many terrorists, what have been the casualties, where are they. After few minutes, telephone lines were disconnected in the parliament and it was not possible to talk to the UNI staff present in Parliament and get details. Mobile network around the Parliament were jammed too. While Phanish and me were busy watching live coverage of Parliament attack on television, phone rang and it was from our office. David called us up and asked where are we, as he knew UNI’s office is just too closer to the parliament. Others from our office also spoke to me and they seem to be excited, as it two of us are in middle of the attack and covering it live.

Once done with the calls we went out (within UNI’s campus) as entire area outside was barricaded by police/armed forces and no one was allowed to be out. But we could hear the sound of fire arms even from that distance for sometime till the time all of the terrorists were killed. That entire day went in just discussions, watching television, everything else but work. Our families were a little worried and they wanted us to be in UNI’s campus itself and not to roam around. As if we wanted to face the terrorists and beat them up with our hands!!

Finally in the evening, we left for the day when people were allowed to be out on the roads; of course there were lot of barricades in Central Delhi and armed forces guarding all government establishments in the area. I dropped Phanish at his hotel and reached home where I was bombarded with questions by my family and some friends about entire’s days happening. Everyone was so charged up! That’s how I still remember that entire day of 13th Dec 2001.

Just to wrap this up, I and Phanish got an opportunity to visit our Parliament after few months as visitor (courtesy UNI & member of Parliament Mr Gangwal) to watch an assembly session live. We got to see all of the places of attack and bullet marks around the walls of Parliament.

(Names have been changed to protect identities)

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2 Responses to My day when Parliament was attacked on 13 Dec 2001 !

  1. It’s a scary situation to be in. I remember the day as well – watching it unfold on TV and I was working with HT in Chandigarh at that time. You are right – it was hard to believe that the Parliament was under attack.

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