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'The terrorists released some gas'
Archana Masih in Mumbai
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November 28, 2008 17:14 IST
Last Updated: November 28, 2008 13:03 IST

The commando was in his cabin when he was informed that he and his team had to report for a mission. They were transported to the Gateway of India. They leapt out and stormed into the Taj Mahal hotel [Images] through the main entrance.

The Taj lobby had already been bloodied by the time he arrived. There were bodies at the reception desk and in the lobby, evidence that a fierce gun battle had already taken place before their arrival.

The commando was part of a seven-member team. They went from room to room, combing them meticulously. In all he sanitised 100 rooms, either breaking the door open or exploding it open.

Many inside, innocent guests, just raised their arms in the air and were taken to safety. The ensuing engagement forced the terrorists to hide on the fifth floor. In order to secure themselves, the terrorists had released some kind of gas, making it difficult for the commandos to fire, to prevent a massive explosion that could endanger innocent lives.

The terrorists were stashed with ammunition, as if they had fortified themselves well in advance. The destruction in the heritage wing of the Taj was severe, and a kitchen that he saw was completely destroyed.

It was a precarious, intense and long mission. In his decade-old service defending the country, he had seen smaller missions before, but never something like this. "It was really something," he said thinking about those 24 hours that he spent fighting terrorists in the Taj.

Outside people lay wait, inside the battle raged on. He does not know how many terrorists were inside and feels no one really knows their exact number, much of it is mere speculation.

After his mission came to an end, he called his parents and his sister to tell them he was alright. He caught some rest. This afternoon he came back to the Colaba Causeway and was one of the many watching the scene near Nariman House, where the siege still continues.

No one knew he fought a 24-hour bloody battle to free the Taj from terror. Today he was just another passerby.

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