Unsung Heroes Recount Mumbai Attacks

Dec 5, 2008 2:53am

By Ammu Kannampilly, ABC News Mumbai When terrorists attacked Mumbai’s historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, two men – Sanjay Kate and Manoj Negar – helped the hotel’s guests, bringing the injured and the afraid to safety. Kate and Negar are not part of the city’s police force or the hotel’s security staff – they are drivers employed by a company that regularly contracts cars and drivers to the Taj hotel. This is their account of that night at the Taj; they did not leave the hotel premises until 3 the following morning. Kate: We were working at the Taj, we were [parked] at the back of the hotel so when the [Cafe] Leopold firing started. We heard it. Initially we thought it was gangsters, some gang war. [Then] we saw the terrorists, we saw them firing at guests. Soon, the two men made their way to the front of the hotel, to help escort guests to safety. Kate: In the Taj lobby, we could see bodies strewn — there were some security staff and doctors there. There was a lot of blood on the lobby floor. I could see people crying, children crying. At that time, no one was there from the military or the navy, only local police — two cops, one with an AK-47 and the other with a revolver. We stayed to help because there were some very old people there and children as well. We could see the hotel staff helping people, getting them out, looking after them, and we thought, we work for the hotel too, so we stayed. Negar: We thought we had to fight, we should go up and fight [the attackers]. But they had guns and we didn’t have anything. …We saw two of the terrorists — one in a red jacket, carrying a rucksack, the other in a blue jacket. They must have been 20-25 years old. They were shouting loudly. Negar: There were three to four people, foreigners, old people. We helped to take them out of the hotel. Then we went up to the third floor, there was a foreigner there, he had been shot in the leg. We tried to help him down with the help of a hotel security guard. We were near the stairs, when we saw one of the terrorists trying to break through the glass and get into the cake shop, to get inside the hotel from the back. We had nothing in our hands — the attacker was less than 50 meters from us. But somehow we made it. Sadly the man we were carrying died. Then on the first floor we found two foreigners shivering with fear, we escorted them to safety. Kate: My family saw me on television that night and I must have got some 50 calls, telling me to come home. But [staying there] was the right thing to do. Negar: My 18-year-old daughter phoned me after seeing me on TV — told me, "papa, come out of there, come home." My brother called me from his village in Bangalore, saying the same. Kate: I couldn’t walk away. I saw the faces of my family in the faces of the people there. Read more blogs by Ammu Kannampilly Read more blogs from the ABC News Staff

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