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November 30th, 2008
09:55 AM ET

Attacks: A first-hand account

The Hindu

A. Vaidyanathan , eminent economist and a member of the Central Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India, was in his room in the heritage wing of Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace and Towers when the terrorists struck on the night of Wednesday, November 26. After his return to Chennai, he spoke to The Hindu on his experience. Here is his first-person account, given to Meera Srinivasan in Chennai on Friday:

I was there for a meeting on the 26th. The meeting was in the afternoon. They usually put me up at the Taj, so I went there. Some of my friends, whom I normally spend time with, were not in town. So I decided to stay back in the room. I ate in the room and was just watching cricket.

Then at 9.30 p.m., things began popping. My room was in the second floor of the Palace, very close to the stairwell of the central dome. That’s where the thing apparently started. It went padapadapda...single shots and then bursts of fire. I was wondering why they were bursting crackers. There was no particular celebration at that time, there was no festival. And certainly inside the Taj wasn’t the place.

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Filed under: India • India Attacked
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Maya Mathew

    On CNN, I heard mention only of some Indian police men who refused to engage the terrorists. No mention was made of the many police officers, NSG and Marco commandos who laid down their lives in the brave fight against the terrorists. Also no mention was made that the terrorists were armed with AK-47's while the police were not equipped with automatic weapons.

    December 1, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  2. Proud Citizen of India

    Dear AC,

    Why do you think US is sending Condi Rice to India? It is purely in the interests of the US which reflects the selfish attitude of the US.

    Would any country like to be advised on a course of action when it is attacked as has happened in Mumbai in the last few days? Would the US keep quiet listening or even soliciting the advice from other countries?

    Did US not go after Bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001, barely a month after 9/11? In what way the attacks on India is different from 9/11?

    We only get an impression that lives lost in India are not precious ones

    Why are the US politicians being nosy about matters pertaining to the security and integrity of India???

    This is very very disgusting and appalling.

    Regards,
    Proud citizen of Govt of India

    December 1, 2008 at 2:11 am |
  3. Bunty

    I've been hearing the so called experts on India-Pak relations and terrorist attacks on TV – one thing I want to tell the experts is that their so called analysis is 20 years old when US – India relations and US – Pak relations were different. In today's terror-world Pakistan is the epi-center and people in Pakistan (not necessarily the government) are the perpetrators of terrorism. Pakistanis need to take responsibility for the attacks in Mumbai. They have been spreading terrorism in India and Afghanistan for decades. The Americans just need to open their eyes and ears and see the facts. Gone are the Soviet days when America used to supply arms via Pakistan to these "mujahideens". Reporting from 5 star hotels by Amanpour and others are just not believable and I'm frustrated that the free media allows them to shape public opinion. These so called experts have no clue of the realities.

    December 1, 2008 at 12:03 am |
  4. Sunset

    A very chilling account. My brother would often stay at the Taj or the Oberio when on business in Mumbai, and I shudder to think but for the grace of God... I will continue to pray for those innocents AND for those that perpetrated this act. I pray for the understanding of the victims that those that survive, that they will undertake a fervent need to seek out the reasons in the face of unfathomable hatred. And I pray that a Higher Being, whom ever that God may be, will look over those that are so desperate, and by a gentle hand instruct them that changing the world will only occur when we ALL understand that peace and love will be the most powerful message that any person could wield or deliver. It may sound presumptuous and irreverant that while I sit in my cozy environment and try to contemplate the depths of strife that could possibly lead to this desperate act, it comes back to me as one rhetorical puzzle: How can mankind turn this tragic loss into a moment of instruction and contemplation of the conditions that would create such waste? These are sad times that required sober information without political fourish, thank you Mr. Vaidyantathan and Mr. Cooper for providing same.

    December 1, 2008 at 12:01 am |
  5. concern/denver Colorado

    I really hope this is a the big picture for pakistan ..and that they place more effort toward helping with the war on terroist ..because they could also help with the location of these terroist a lot more than want they do .....

    November 30, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  6. Indian American

    Hello Anderson –

    Comments made by the pakistani ambassador on CNN were quite interesting. Mr ambassador was indicating that Pakistan is/has been co-operating in the fight against terror but the actions do not justify such a position. Pakistan is merely doing lip service to America and playing defense.

    What would really help is to show the identify of the people involved in the attacks and where did they get training from and how did they reach mumbai? I have not seen that covered on CNN. There is already evidence out there and it would only be fair to share that with the audience.

    Thanks
    Indian American

    November 30, 2008 at 12:11 pm |
  7. Victor Jung

    The motive behind the attacks seem straight forward – cause chaos, fear and undermine a peaceful coexistence amongst a diverse set of citizens. The result is more complex, because it demonstrates how traditional anomosities and ethnic conflicts begin and end...or never. In the US, we are observing Thanksgiving weekend...things to be thankful for and at the same time, preparing for the retail bargains that kick off the Holiday season. It is events like that in Mumbia that humble us, and bring peaceful people together. The accounts outsiders were getting during the seige and now afterwards from first hand accounts of the survivors show that ordinary people were doing ordinary things, with no malice intentions, with no prejudice..all perhaps just doing things for the betterment of their families... And not plotting against the terrorists, whom took it upon themselves to disrupt our lives and fuel hatred against the extremist.

    November 30, 2008 at 11:05 am |