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How the police saved hundreds of lives at the Oberoi

December 23, 2008

Text and photographs: A Ganesh Nadar in Mumbai

The Marine Drive police station in south Mumbai is hidden behind the massive LIC building. And the non-descript police station is perhaps a quiet testimony to the attitude of the officers who man it -- heroes who do their duty silently.

Presiding Inspector Sanjay Amrute and his brave men speak softly of their death-defying deeds during the attack on Mumbai.

"On the first day we rescued 145 guests from the Oberoi and 45 more after two days," says Inspector Amrute. "Our main aim was to look after the guests even while we kept the terrorists at bay."

He and his men kept talking to the guests on the hotel intercom, signalled to them whenever they could. They also helped the hotel staff provide basic food and water to the trapped victims.

"When we saw smoke billowing from a room, we advised them to break the glass. At other times, when we thought that they would attract the attention of the terrorists, we told them not to make any noise," says Inspector Amrute calmly.

Was he as calm that fateful night and the days that followed?

"Getting excited in such a situation would alarm my colleagues," comes the non-nonsense reply.

When he was about to enter the Oberoi, Inspector Kishore K Shinde saw a bag at the entrance. He picked it up because it seemed out of place. It was very heavy.

"It must have weighed 12 kilos," says Inspector Shinde. "There was something black wrapped up inside. In the year 2000 I had done a course on anti-sabotage. It hit me immediately. It was RDX. I carried it 15 to 20 feet away from the entrance and put it down gently."

"I told my people to move the crowd away even as I called the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad. They responded in 2 minutes," he adds.

Image: Inspector Sanjay Amrute, who led the brave officers of the Marine Drive police station.

Also see: Heroes: He held off terrorists for four hours

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