Terror, Step By Step

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The MARCOS who came in before the NSG could do little. They could not even gain access to the CCTV room because of the billowing smoke. Trained in diving and underwater operations, they were at sea in the labyrinth of the Taj hotel, quite unlike the four terrorists who appeared to know each stairwell and all its multiple entries and exits.

KASAV’S ACCOMPLICES kept the MARCOS and the NSG commandos on their toes for nearly 60 hours; the NSG chief conceding that they had to keep changing their strategies. Landing on the roof was only the beginning of a long ordeal. Manouevering the floors and the rooms, especially where frightened guests had locked themselves in, was nerve wracking for people on both sides of the door. The NSG commandos did not know how many terrorists were roaming the floors in the dark, like they were. Checking each room was a tension-filled and time-consuming task. None of the guests holed up in their rooms responded to the knock on the door. They didn’t know who was knocking. The calls of ‘we have come to help you,’ sent guests behind writing desks and into bathrooms. Each room was opened with a spare key and it was only after Dutt gave the thumbs up sign at Taj and Oberoi did they realise that 200 of them had spent the better part of three days neutralising six militants in these two locations.

Nariman House, too, was held hostage by just two men. The police had evacuated nearby buildings as terrorists opened fire from the window, killing bystanders of the Nariman House. Later, commandos jumped out of helicopters and slithered down ropes to land on the roof, but the Rabbi and his wife had already been killed. Other bodies were found with bullets on their foreheads — they had been shot at close range.

The eight men — four at the Taj, two at the Oberoi and two at Nariman House, were not looking for escape routes. Several kilograms of meat that lay in Nariman House looked untouched. The terrorists had brought their own ration — high protein dry fruit. They had come to kill and to add numbers to the list of fatalities. The last official count is 198 dead.

This does not include four guests who had been been marched up to the 20th floor from the Kandahar restaurant at the Oberoi. They had fallen amongst the heap of bodies, where they lay injured, not dead, only to relive the horror of the long siege.

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