26/11: Ultra was on phone receiving instructions

26/11: Ultra was on phone receiving instructions

Bangalore banker recalls hostage crisis at Taj Hotel in Mumbai

The man, a Banglorean, who happens to be the non-executive chairman of a private bank, had come to Mumbai on a business trip and was in his room number 632, glued to the television set, watching the breaking news of terror attacks with horror.
On Wednesday, he became the first witness from the Taj Mahal seige to depose in the special court, recalling the trauma he and other hostages suffered on 26/11 night at the hands of four Pakistani terrorists.

The captured Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab and two Indian operatives of the Pakistani terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which planned the cowardly operation, are under trial by the special court.

A group of four terrorists out of the total ten had entered the Taj Mahal hotel and took hostages, killing many of them, and the seige continued for almost 62 hours when all four of them were shot dead by the NSG commandos.

‘I am a teacher’

The witness, whose name was withheld for security reasons, told the court that he was whipped and interrogated by his Pakistani captors. “They (terrorists) asked me whether I was an architect or a scientist, but I told them I was a teacher...,” he recalled.

However, the terrorists were not convinced that he was a teacher. “One of the terrorists, who was speaking on mobile, told the person at the other end that I was a teacher. ... After some time he got angry and said to me - how can a teacher with a salary of Rs 25,000 stay at Taj?

“They whipped me,” the banker recalled. When asked with what had he been whipped, he said it seemed to be a rope.

“I could not do anything as I was lying on the ground face down,” the banker said.
The hotel reception had alerted him about the ‘emergency’ and he too had seen reports of the terror attacks on television. At 11.00 pm that night, the door to his room was knocked, and the visitor called out words “room service.” But the banker was alert and he did not open the dor.

“Suddenly, I heard gunshots outside the door, and the door was flung open. Two gentlemen came in. One of them held a gun to my head while other struck a blow at my neck,” the witness said.

The terrorist duo took the banker outside and made him knock on the doors of adjoining rooms. He followed instructions but there was no response.

Then the two terrorists pushed him back into the same room and asked him to remove his ‘kurta’ and ‘pajama’. He was hesitant, but they hit him, so he complied.
The witness, when asked by terrorists, said he was a professor in Bangalore university.

“They did not believe that I was a teacher and struck me and asked whether I was a smuggler, to which I said no. All through, one of the terrorists was speaking on a mobile phone and seeking instructions from the other end,” the banker told the court.

The captors saw a sacred thread around his torso, and asked whether he was a Brahmin.

Then the witness cried, and told them he was a blood pressure patient. But they tied him up, and made him lie down, he said.

Four hotel boys were brought to the room by two other terrorists. They too were interrogated.

“We were five hostages and four terrorists in the room,” he told the court. Around 2.00 am the terrorists took them to the floor below, to room number 520.

End of ordeal

After an hour, the banker heard a blast, but the terrorists were not to be seen around. He said he managed to free himself and then freed the four hotel boys.
The hotel boys tied blankets to make a rope and climbed down from a window. But the banker was nervous, so he went down to the third floor.

After seeing that the light was on in one of the rooms on the floor, he went inside and saw a fire brigade snorkel approaching from outside. “Around 6 am on November 27, I was rescued by fire brigade officials,” the banker recalled.

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