Sebastian ‘Saby’ D’Souza: I want to erase 26/11 from my memory (alert: some explicit pictures)

25 Nov,2013

Sebastian ‘Saby’ D’Souza

By Fatema Rajkotwala


Five years ago, the city of Mumbai was under siege for three days when terrorists infiltrated the city’s pride and pulsating locations of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi hotels, the Leopold Cafe and Nariman House at Colaba. While citizens and residents grasped what was the sudden reality, Sebastian D’Souza, then senior photographer with Mumbai Mirror ran out to the train station armed with nothing more than his Nikon camera and lenses.



Today, five years later, Saby, as he is known in the fraternity and to friends, is far from willing to reminiscence on the incident that brought him much fame and glory. His close-up photograph of Ajmal Kasab, the sole survivor among the terrorists that day, was circulated, flashed and reused by media across the world. “Yes, I made a big name and was praised by all. The photographs were used by the media all over,” he says. “But I wish I had never done it. You’re on the field at that time. It’s crazy. I cannot explain it.”


Saby was contacted and applauded by the global media for the considerable risk he undertook in documenting the event. “The western media praised and appreciated my work and contribution. They recognized the effort and said they would be honoured to have such a person in their country. Life in India is cheap. Nobody cares. If I had died that day, it would’ve been a very bitter truth for my family. The Indian government, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, gave me a house but it is a disputed structure. This is the second time this has happened. Earlier I was given a house by Mr Sharad Pawar. If not by the person sanctioning it, you get cheated during the paperwork all the way. I am retired now and I still live on rent.”


Even though the senior photojournalists shared some of his photographs he had taken, he says he would rather not remember or reminisce the events of the evening of November 26,. “I want to erase the event from my memory completely. I wish it had never happened. I didn’t do it for fame or money. It is not an event worth remembering anyway. I want to forget it ever happened and put it past me.”


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