Hotel employees rescued after night-long ordeal
At the crack of dawn, the encounter over, a group of 15 people was quietly herded out of Punjab Hotel at Lal Chowk, ground zero of the gun-battle between crack commandos and fidayeen (Arabic for one who is prepared to die for the cause) militants.india Updated: Jan 08, 2010 00:36 IST
At the crack of dawn, the encounter over, a group of 15 people was quietly herded out of Punjab Hotel at Lal Chowk, ground zero of the gun-battle between crack commandos and fidayeen (Arabic for one who is prepared to die for the cause) militants.
To the relief of bystanders and journalists, each of them came out unscathed. "The sun brought hope of life for us. Ab hum bahar aye hain to jaan mein jaan ayee hai (now that we are finally out, we can heave a sigh of relief,'' said a man, too traumatised to even say his name.
Through Wednesday night, close to 100 people, including women and children, trapped inside shops and buildings close to the Punjab Hotel were evacuated safely.
But some employees of the hotel remained trapped there for about 18 hours before being evacuated, police sources said.
“I somehow managed to survive the night hiding in the bathroom,'” said Mehrajuddin, an employee of the Punjab Hotel, who managed to slip inside as militants rushed into the hotel after hurling a grenade.
Militants struck Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the city, at around 2.15 pm on Wednesday exploding grenades and opening fire.
While most shopkeepers fled to safety, some took shelter inside the open shops and buildings.
Four civilians, including an eight-year-old, were injured on Wednesday. Lucky Singh, who worked as a cook in the nearby Bharat Hotel, was seriously injured on Thursday morning, as he tried to look out of the hotel window.
The night, however, was a long ordeal for hotel employees. Many of them prayed through it.