A senior banker from Bangalore on Thursday told the special court the three-hour-long ordeal he went through when four Lashkar-e-Tayyeba terrorists held him hostage inside Taj hotel on November 26, 2008.
The 69-year-old former chairman of a nationalised bank (name withheld on orders of the special court) testified before special judge M.L. Taheliyani that he had visited the city for a board meeting of a company.
After receiving a call from the room service around 10.50 pm, he switched on the television and became aware of what was happening at the Taj.
Minutes later, there was a knock on his door. “The next minute, I heard gun shots, the door flung open and two men walked in,” said the witness. “The taller one held his gun to my temple and asked me to keep quite.”
The banker said the other fellow, who was wearing a red T-shirt, gave him a blow on his neck, forced him out of the room and directed him to knock on the doors of adjoining rooms. He was brought back to his room when there was no response from any other room.
The two terrorists compelled their hostage to take off his clothes and tied his hands behind, forcing him to lie face down. One of the terrorists then started asking questions.
“All the while he was in touch with someone on the mobile phone and was questioning me as per the instructions received from the other end,” the banker said. “He asked me if I was a Brahmin and even checked my sacred thread.”
A few hours later, four hotel staffers and two more terrorists joined the banker.
Around 2.15 am, the five hostages were brought to a room on the fifth floor. When the terrorists heard a blast, they left, leaving the hostages.
“I managed to find a scissor and untie my hands and helped the others free themselves,” said the witness.
The four staffers got out of a window and climbed down to the first floor using bed sheets and curtains.
When the sixth floor went up in flames, he decided to walk through open corridors, “risking terrorists’ bullets.”
He was saved by Fire Department personnel.