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'We don't leave the enemy alive'

A Ganesh Nadar in Mumbai | November 29, 2008 00:29 IST

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"That's not our policy -- to leave the enemy alive," Arutselvam of the National Security Guard said as he emerged from Nariman House in Colaba, south Mumbai, at 1030 pm, after the long security operation against the terrorists who had taken over the Jewish centre. He was calm and looked relaxed. The fatigue of working for 18 hours had not taken its toll. At least, it did not show.

The NSG commandos arrived at Nariman House directly from the airport and were not planning to return to their headquarters near New Delhi [Images]. "Some of us are going to the Taj to help, the others will wait. We don't know where these terrorists will turn up next."

The commandos got into the buses and nonchalantly started chatting amongst themselves. The crowds outside the buses went berserk. Some cheered, others clapped. "Bharat Mata Ki Jai," screamed the crowd.

Two-and-a-half hours earlier, at 8 pm, the situation was different. Sporadic gunfire could be heard from Nariman House. Explosions rocked the area at frequent intervals. The crowds and television crews were being kept at a distance.

Shamu Begum and her four children lives down the lane from Nariman House. "My kids have to go for tuitions in the building next to Nariman House. I haven't allowed them to go for the last two days. We were initially scared. While Mumbai has seen frequent bomb blasts, Colaba has always been safe. There are so many foreigners here. It is a tourist area. So security is high here. I have never seen anything like this. I was scared about my kids. But that was the day before yesterday. After the commandos came I am not scared. I know that they came here alive. But the terrorists will leave here dead. Our commandos will kill them."

Raju also lives in the same lane. "They (the terrorists) landed near Badhwar Park (an area close to Nariman House) and ran down this lane. They first shot a young boy and then hurled a grenade at the petrol pump. Luckily, nothing happened to the pump. If the grenade had exploded, the whole area would have been devastated."

Once the terrorists entered Nariman House the locals did not know what to do, and waited for the Mumbai police to do something. But the fact that Israelis were held hostage, it had to be the NSG commandos who did the job.

"We are sad for the families who lost their lives," one NSG officer said as the commandos left the site. "Those bastards killed them. We are also sorry that we had to destroy most of the building, we had no choice. But we did not spare them."

After the NSG teams left, the Mumbai police took over the site. The bomb disposal squad and its sniffer dogs entered Nariman House to make sure that no bombs lurked there. "They will find a few grenades," Arutselvam told us.

"The Jews used to feed the poor who came there," Raju said. "They were nice people."

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