MP ducks under table

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By JAYANTH JACOB in Delhi
  • Published 27.11.08
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New Delhi, Nov. 27: When N.N. Krishnadas walked into the lobby of Mumbai’s Taj hotel a little after six last evening, he had no inkling that he was checking in for the longest night of his life.

The four-time CPM member of Parliament from Kerala lived through the nightmare, trapped between falling bodies and machinegun fire, and survived to recount the horror.

Around 9.15, about three hours after he had checked in, Krishnadas, chairman of a parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation, went to the Shamiana restaurant on the first floor of the hotel for dinner.

“There were some 50 people in the restaurant, including women and foreigners,” he recalled.

Krishnadas had just taken a chair, wondering what to order, when two men, their faces covered with black cloth, rushed inside.

“It happened in a fraction of a second. They were firing indiscriminately, without saying anything. I could sense the bullets from a machinegun. I think it was a machinegun, considering the way they were firing. It felled two people next to the table I was sitting.”

Krishnadas ducked under a table. “There was absolute silence and a sense of shock. I remained under the table.”

After some time, the MP said, a hotel employee came and told the guests there was an emergency exit that could take them down to the poolside.

“The employee spoke in hushed tones and guided us down. I could see around 20 people near the poolside. We all ducked near a wall, silent, wondering what was happening. We could hear gunshots and the sound of explosion,” he said.

A few minutes later, another hotel employee guided the group to the kitchen store. “From there, we climbed some stairs to reach the first-floor lobby around 10.30,” Krishnadas said today from a bank rest house where he and some others were taken after being escorted out of the besieged hotel.

There were around 200 people in the lobby, he recalled. “Some were hiding near sofas. Most were lying down. There were no lights. It was like hiding in a bunker, hearing gunshots, explosions, possible grenade attacks. We knew we were under siege.

“A few minutes later, two foreigners tried to escape. They were shot down. I couldn’t make out where the bullets came from. It was pitch dark. We just lay down. I spoke to people at home and told them I was fine.”

The hours passed in the stillness of silence and fear. “Most of us couldn’t sleep, we just lay down,” the MP said.

“Around 8.30 this morning, security personnel and hotel staff took us out. We were taken to Azad Nagar police station.”

The MP and some others were later taken to the bank rest house. “I am here at the rest house and will catch the next flight out of Mumbai,” Krishnadas told The Telegraph. “The meeting I came for stands cancelled.”