The rampage, the deaths, the agony, the chaos and the destruction - they were all there, the images constantly and relentlessly flitting across our screens, the cameras documenting the mayhem minute by painful minute. We had questions. Why did it take so long for the military forces to reach the hotels and the hospitals? Why were reporters not cautioned about broadcasting the tactics of security forces? Could the attacks have been avoided in the first place? Could the damage have been minimized?
In an article titled Anatomy of a Siege, Marie Brenner weaves in the numerous strands of the events that transpired that day in a gripping essay for the November '09 issue of Vanity Fair:
Parts of the story leave you shaken, you look at some of the survivors and wonder what you'd have done in their situation. Would it have occurred to me to conjure up a make-shift toilet out of sheets in a corner of the room for hotel guests holed up in a room - as it did to Mallika Jagad, who happened to be in charge of a banquet that day?
The city’s rage had narrowed down to one issue: long into the night a squad of police and a contingent from the army had stood outside the Taj while terrorists roamed the floors above, taking hostages. The police were waiting for orders from a commissioner of noble lineage who stayed put in his car at the nearby Oberoi hotel and for the arrival of commandos and anti-terror forces from New Delhi. From his station a few blocks away, A. N. Roy, the head of the state police, screamed at his men, “Why can’t they go in? Why are they standing there?” But powerful as he was, Roy could not directly command the local police. India is a top-down society of entrenched bureaucrats, with appallingly inadequate communication among agencies.
One of those trapped was Dr. Mangeshikar, who had started her evening declaring that she would stay at the wedding one hour tops. The hotel staff passed trays of sandwiches and drinks at Chambers. “Leave this kitchen right now—the terrorists are on the way,” Kang ordered. “They refused to leave,” Kang told me. “They said, 'We are preparing food and drinks for the guests.’” Kang ordered them again, “Leave! Your lives are in danger.” Dattatrey Chaskar, a waiter, begged Kang, “Save my son!” No one could find the young man. Later he would be discovered huddled among stacks of lamb chops in a cold-storage cabinet.
The entire story is available by clicking here: Anatomy of a Siege.
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