‘We Were Lined Up and Shot’

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Details are emerging about the horrific ordeals faced by many of the victims of the Mumbai atrocities: ’We were lined up and shot,’ Mumbai family tells ordeal.

Father Apoorva, a 57-year-old builder, is still recovering from his injuries. Still reeling with shock, the family was initially even hesitant to tell their name.

Instead, Parikh’s son Rohan, 22, a business student, recounted his father’s experience in an email.

His father had gone to the Oberoi that night for dinner with two of his closest friends, he said.
The three friends were at a restaurant on the first floor of the Oberoi when they heard gunshots. The hotel staff tried to rush the guests out of the kitchen exit.

‘As the guests tried to rush into the kitchen, one terrorist burst into the restaurant and began to shoot anyone that remained in the restaurant. At this point my father was in the kitchen and, along with his two friends, rushed to the fire exit.

‘They had barely descended a few steps when they were trapped from both ends by terrorists.

‘The terrorists then rounded up anyone alive (about 20 people) and made them climb the service staircase to the 19th floor. On reaching the 18th floor landing they made the people line up against a wall.

‘One terrorist then positioned himself on the staircase going up from the landing and the other on the staircase going down from the landing.

‘Then, in a scene right out of the Holocaust, they simultaneously opened fire on the people. My father was towards the centre of the line with his two friends on either side. Out of reflex, or presence of mind, he ducked as soon as the firing began.

‘One bullet grazed his neck, and he fell to the floor as his two friends and several other bodies piled on top of him. The terrorists then pumped another series of bullets into the heap of bodies to finish the job.

‘This time a bullet hit my father in the back hip. Bent almost in double, crushed by the weight of the bodies above him, and suffocating in the torrent of blood rushing down on him from the various bodies my father held on for 10 minutes while the terrorists left the area.

‘When he finally had the courage to wiggle his arms he found that there were four other survivors in the room. They communicated to each other by touch as they were too afraid to make a sound.

‘My father moved just enough to allow himself room to breathe and then lay still. The survivors passed over 12 hours lying still in the heap of bodies too afraid to move.

‘They constantly heard gunfire and hand grenades going off in the other parts of the hotel. They feared that any noise would bring the terrorists back.

‘After approximately 12 hours, the terrorists returned with a camera and flashlight and joked and laughed as they filmed what they thought was a pile of dead bodies.

‘They then moved to the landing below where they set up explosives. On their departing, my father decided that it was too risky to remain where they were, due to the explosives.’

The three survivors then climbed the rest of the stairs to reach an air-cooling plant room where they hid, drinking sips of water from the air-conditioning unit, till Friday, November 28, morning when a commando team rescued them and took them to hospital.

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