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Taj fire being put out after the people were rescued. Image Source : google.com
  • On 26th November 2008, Mumbai faced the worst day in its history- the terrorist attack on Hotel Taj Mahal
  • On that day, the bravery and experience of Ravi Dharnidhirka, Captain of the US Marine Corp, saved the lives of as many as 157 people
  • He was ably aided by some South African ex-Commandos and the staff of Taj

November 26, 2008, saw one of saddest days in the history of Independent India. The Hotel Taj Mahal at Mumbai was under the attack of terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba. During such a time, Captain of the US Marine Corps, Ravi Dharnidhirka had gone to have lunch at Taj with a few of his uncles and colleagues. He had sensed that something was wrong the moment he had set foot inside the hotel. The metal detectors were not working properly, he had figured. A lot of phone calls were coming to all of them, informing them about the shootings at Colaba. In the meantime, they realised that they were under attack as well.

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Captain Ravi Dharnidhirka. Image Source : betterindia.com

Ravi Dharnidhirka and some of the South African ex-commandos, who had had an experience of serving in the army used their presence of mind and realised that they need to do something to save the lives of the people. They searched the area and found a strong wooden door. They took the terrorised people through the kitchen to that room. Locked the doors and protected it with tables, chairs and whatever they could find. From the kitchen, they took the sharp cutter and armed the people as well as they could. One of them explained the situation to the people and requested them to keep calm. The Captain and his comrades then informed the Taj officials about that in case they needed to evacuate or something, reported Better India, mentioned the betterIndia report.

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When the terrorists set of the RDX in one of the halls, this group of the Captain and ex-commandos realised that it was time to carry out their evacuation plan because otherwise, the fire would engulf the staircases making it impossible to save the lives of the people waiting impatiently behind the wooden door. They removed the barricades in front of the door and slowly and steadily led them through the fire exits, out of the building. It was a lot of risks considering that every floor had a transparent fire exit through which the entire floor could be seen. They had made sure that all the phones were switched off and shoes were taken off so that they could make a noiseless exit.

As many as 157 lives were saved by the quick thinking and experience of Captain Ravi Dharnidhirka and the South African ex-commandos and the staff of Taj who had ably aided them.

-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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