‘It was the longest night of my life’

‘It was the longest night of my life’
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First Published: Fri, Nov 28 2008. 07 05 AM IST

N.N. Krishnadas
N.N. Krishnadas
Updated: Sun, Nov 30 2008. 08 35 PM IST
N.N. Krishnadas
I was at the Taj Mahal Hotel along with a few government officials to hold two crucial meetings today (Thursday)... we had arrived around 6pm (on Wednesday) from Bhubaneswar and I was pretty tired and checked into suite 376.
I had decided to retire early to bed but some friends had come over and so I went down to eat at the Shamiana restaurant near the swimming pool on the ground floor.
We had just begun our dinner and then it happened .… I remember two hooded men walking in only to open indiscriminate fire ... before I knew what was happening I was on the floor … by force of some strange reason, me and my friends had jumped to the floor, under the tables.
Believe me, it was like facing an execution squad but without your hands tied. So we could crawl and we kept moving in the direction, we thought, of a door.
When I looked back at my friends who were also crawling, all I wanted to do was cry. But I couldn’t.
One of my assistant’s shirt was soaked in blood. I thought he was hit but I still couldn’t cry. I turned my face away. But he tapped my back and said it is the blood of two unfortunate foreigners who were at the next table, who we knew were killed on the spot ... Then we reached a door that opened after a while ... I don’t remember who opened it. It was the emergency door to the pool.
My secretary next to me raised his head as if to survey what all the wails and sounds—that I had associated only with Apocalypse—were about. I shouted at him but I couldn’t hear my own voice. It was like a war.
I just could see and that was all... Then we managed to hide behind what seemed liked bushes at the far end of the pool. We were there I don’t know for how long.
I got several calls and answered most of them, including some from the media and family who had by then come to know I was trapped inside ... some time later, we were taken by some hotel employees through a door to a room near a kitchen. There were some 20 people there and all we could hear were sounds of firing and grenade blasts.
I got some calls and it was only then did I realized that half of Bombay was burning ... It was very, very tense, and fear could kill. So I kept talking to my assistants and friends just to beat the anxiety ... Sometime later we were taken to the first floor ... to a place that looked like a lobby and there were some 150-200 people there, including several foreigners.
Some of us kept getting phone calls from various media groups and TV channels, friends and family ... then we were advised by some policemen to switch off our phones to avoid drawing the terrorists’ attention ... the lights were switched off and we were asked to be silent.
It was a long, long, forlorn night.
Two of us were shot dead by bullets that came from nowhere ... between us and the rest of the world were just grenade blasts and vertigo-inducing sound of death and destruction ...
We didn’t care for food or water ... security forces rescued us at 9 or so in the morning ... It was the longest night of my life …
The writer is a Lok Sabha member and chairman, parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation
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First Published: Fri, Nov 28 2008. 07 05 AM IST