Purushottam Basyal Was Making Chinese Cuisine When Terrorists Stormed Into Taj Mahal Palace Hotel In Mumbai
Purushottam Basyal, who hails from Malungwa village in Syangja district, works a Chef specializing in Chinese cuisine at the Taj Palace. He was busy preparing food when terrorists entered the hotel premises at around ten in the night (read more about the attack in the box below). “All of a sudden I heard rattling noises”, Mr. Basyal told me from his house in Mumbai. “I thought someone was creating noises with utensils at a time when the restaurant was filled with guests. Then I was told there was firing going on in the hotel. I thought a gang fight had broken out. Then someone told me it was a terrorist attack. We were all frightened.”
Basyal along with other Chefs rushed to the main kitchen in the first floor when guests busy drinking in a bar nearby started running away in fear. That was when he knew it was a terrorist attack. Overcome by fear Basyal and the rest rushed to the basement to hide. Two chefs who worked with Basyal were killed in the shootings. Another Indian Chef, Hemant was a serious casualty.
“He was in the upper floor when he was got shot. He’d called me on my mobile to save him. Unfortunately we could not go for him. We could get killed too. God saved us!”
Basyal was in touch with his wife from his hideout in the basement when the shootings were going on. “I told my wife not to worry”, he said. “She was watching the news on T.V and it showed Taj Hotel in fire. I was scared knowing that. I thought, may be I wouldn’t survive the fire. But at around 3 in the morning the commandos came and rescued us.”
Once rescued, Basyal had rushed to his friend Hemant who had been taken to JJ Hospital. Hemanta’s condition was critical, but on knowing that he would survive, he’d left for home situated two hours away from the place.
The 36 year old from Syangja came to India in search of work when he was twenty. And he plans to work there for some more years to come. In every two years he manages to come back home when his children have their vacation.
Four more Nepalis work in Taj in addition to Basyal. Fortunately, they were not in the hotel during the attack. Two other Nepalis work in Oberoi Trident, the other hotel where the terrorists attacked. However, they were not in the hotel during the attack either as informed by Shaligram Tiwari who is related to the Nepali Janasamparka Samiti, Mumbai.
Terrorist Attack Rocks Mumbai
NEW DELHI- By all accounts and standards, it was immaculately coordinated and spectacularly executed.
As the city of Mumbai was gearing up for yet another glittering nightlife Wednesday, a group of gun-totting young terrorists with their backpacks filled with explosives spoiled the party and took India by surprise.
The fight continued the next day when millions of Indians who would have perhaps watched the re-telecast of the previous day’s cricket match in which their country defeated visiting British team found themselves glued to their TV sets that were beaming live footage of the fighting between security commandos and the terrorists in some of the most famous landmarks of Mumbai. Instead of commentators talking about runs and bowls and other scores, reporters were continuously updating them with the figures of casualties.
The tally: 125 dead, more than 300 injured. At the time of writing the fighting in five-star hotel Trident Oberoi was going on. The remaining two one-day matches with England were cancelled in the wake of the attacks that also specifically targeted British nationals.
The Maximum City, as they call it, remained in maximum fear throughout Thursday. Schools, train services and the markets remained closed in India’s financial capital. It all began at around 9:25 PM India time Wednesday when three men with automatic weapons started firing in Leopold Cafe, a favorite tourist hangout. It lasted for 25 minutes.
The attackers moved toward the nearby icon Taj Mahal hotel firing indiscriminately. Some of them went to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, one of the two busiest train stations in Mumbai that was previously known as Victoria Terminus or VT. There, four terrorists faced anti-terrorist squad of the Mumbai police. By the time they were shot dead, they had killed 10 and injured 30.
In the Taj hotel where the attackers reached at 10 PM, they fired rampantly in the swimming pool area. They killed eleven policemen, including Hemant Karkare, the chief of Mumbai’s counterterrorism squad and a popular face of anti-terrorism efforts in India.
The attackers, believed to be in their early 20s and working for a previously little known outfit called Deccan Mujaheddin, also went on rampage in Trident Oberoi hotel in Nariman Point and a multiplex. They also attacked two taxis in two different locations.
Incidents of terrorist attacks are not new in India but as the country is advancing economically and experiencing the widening of its clout in world politics in recent years, it has invited such attacks more frequently. In September, a series of blasts rocked the capital New Delhi. Before that, it was in places like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Surat and Guwahati. In his recent interaction with India’s top police officials, Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh had told that the country cannot afford a repetition of such terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile people on the street blame police inefficiency and rampant corruption in the organization for the stunning repetition of terrorist attacks. “I don’t believe it happened without any participation of someone from inside the police,” a shopkeeper in south Delhi told the Post as he watched the fighting live on TV. “They are corrupt and couldn’t even see this coming. Even if they had seen, I suspect in their ability to prevent.”
The central government in Delhi was quick to respond. The prime minister convened an emergency cabinet meeting earlier Thursday morning and reviewed the overall security situation of the country according to wire reports. Emerging out of the meeting, central home minister Shivaraj Patil assured that terrorists wouldn’t be able to defeat the nation of India. “The first priority is to free the hostages,” he told reporters. “[The terrorists] want to frighten us, but we as a nation we are strong and they will not succeed.”
Prime Minister Singh address the nation and promised Friday. Reports say that he wanted to visit Mumbai Thursday but security agencies advised him not to citing security reasons.
Some Indian media are already branding the incident as India’s 9/11 while some are calling it an example of international terrorism in which not only India but major powers of the world are targeted. Witnesses who escaped from the captivity of gunmen were on TV saying that the terrorists specifically asked for American and British passport holders. “They basically were saying they wanted anyone with British and American passports,” said a Briton, smear on his face, on Times Now TV. “There were about 15 people, about half of which were foreigners. We went to the 18th floor. It became very smoky, and we escaped and ran down the stairs. They had guns, one machine gun and one rifle gun. They were in jeans and T-shirts. Just normal, casual.”
A photo taken by a journalist of Maharastra Times from the Times of India building showed a young man with curly hair wielding an assault rifle and wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, a blue backpack slung over his shoulders. He also appeared to be wearing Rakshaybandhan, a thread that Hindus put during the day of Raskhyabandan, thus confusing many about his identity. It has been widely reported by Indian media that the terrorists, who reportedly came in boats and entered the country via Gateway of India located on the southern tip of Mumbai, are Islamic militants and are associated with groups like Pakistan based fundamentalist organization Lashkar e Toiba. That hasn’t been proved. Several Indian media reported that they received e-mails from a group identifying itself as Deccan Mujaheddin and claiming the responsibility for the attacks.
R.R. Patil, the deputy chief minister and home minister of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital, said the gunmen came from the sea about 9 p.m. Wednesday.
This attack was different than what India has been facing recently, particularly in the way it was executed. In previous instances a bomb or two would be anonymously planted in an unsuspecting location. This time, young people with jeans, AK-47s and backpacks came with an intention to kill and die. And, at the time of this writing, they were continuing their fight since almost 20 hours right in the heart of India.
Terrorist bombings have killed more than 200 people since May in India. More than 200 people were killed in July 2006 when a series of blasts ripped through railway trains and commuter rail stations in Mumbai. The city saw 257 people killed and more than 1,100 wounded in a series of 13 bomb blasts in March 1993.
Prez, PM condemn attack: KATHMANDU (RSS)- President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav Thursday sent a letter to Indian President Prativa Patil and expressed deep shock over the news of terrorist attacks in various parts of Mumbai, India on Wednesday. “We strongly condemn this cowardly attack and the killings of innocent people,” Dr. Yadav said. Extending his deepest condolence to the families of those killed, President Dr. Yadav said Nepal is with India and its people during this difficult time. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal, in a separate condolence message sent to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, has expressed profound shock at the terrorist attack and deep condolence to the bereaved families.