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The unsung heroes of 26/11

02:45 Min | November 26, 2019, 6:01 PM IST
On the 11th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, we present lost stories of courage from the Taj Mumbai
Script: Rahul Aripaka, Aditya Kakkar
Host: Aditya Kakkar
Producer: Deepshikha Rahi

11 years ago, on this day, Mumbai was attacked by terrorists and these attacks took the lives of close to 200 people. But, the toll would’ve been even higher if it hadn’t been for people like slain ATS chief Hemant Karkare

And they were many like Karkare, who put it all on the line to keep people alive

Hello, I’m Aditya Kakkar and these are their stories.

Chef Hemant Oberoi was the executive chef at the Taj

On the day of the attacks, as usual he was in his kitchen, But the day would soon take a turn for the worse for him and his sous chefs The minute he got news of the shooting, he shut of all the lights around him and then shifted as many guests to safer locations within the hotel And then his did what he knew best - he got to cooking

He made sandwiches to feed as many of the guests as he could.

"I think it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t a question of bravery. I was responsible for people. All I did is what I think people should do, it wasn’t brave,” he said in a Sky interview.

During the attack, he lost his friend and sous chef Vijay Banja

But, Oberoi survived, and has opened his own restaurant in San Diego.

It wasn’t just Oberoi who kept the guests safe

Every staff member of the Taj was doing their best to secure the guests

And keep them alive, and fed.

“That’s when the Taj’s staff kicked in. Crates of Himalayan water bottles started to come in, followed by tins of potato chips. These were soon followed by chutney and cheese sandwiches and trays of canapés. I spotted some paté and smoked salmon, but was too churned up to eat anything. Tray after tray of freshly made sandwiches kept coming through, followed by cans of aerated drinks. Soon, we had towels and crisp white bed sheets to wrap around us as blankets. Extra chairs were brought in,” writes Parizaad Khan, a reporter who was attending a friend’s wedding reception on the day.

The attack on Mumbai was not only an attack on its people but also on its ethos, spirit, and resilience. Eleven years ago the city came together in silent anger but also compassion for the bruised and the fallen. Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor from the pack of terrorists, was not shot in cold blood, but meted out punishment through the judicial courts of India. 26 11 will always be remembered as the day when the spirit of India took a hit but did not back down.

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