Former Taj manager recounts 26/11 horror, urges UNSC to fight back against terrorism

Addressing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel, Karambir Kang, area director of Taj Group (IHCL) in US, urged the council and its member nations to defy acts of terrorism by fighting back.

“In these very walls are etched the names of our brave colleagues, guests and my family who perished during the 26/11 attack,” Kang said Friday during his address as he recalled the shooting at the Taj Mumbai in 2008 that took the lives of 32 people, including guests and staff, and injured 28. The hotel’s burning domes and spires stayed ablaze for two days and three nights.

Kang lost his family — two sons and wife — in the 26/11 terror attack.

Armed terrorists had attacked a dozen locations in Mumbai — a hospital, railway station, a restaurant, a Jewish center and two luxury hotels, including Taj Mahal hotel. In all, they killed as many as 159 people, both Indians and foreigners, and wounded over 200.

Kang was the hotel’s general manager when the attack took place. The bravery shown by Taj Mumbai’s staff during the two-day attack has received worldwide praise and is a subject of multiple case studies.

“Atithi Devo Bhava (guest is god) is not just a slogan for us. It is something we live by and the world saw it that day,” Kang said, adding, “That evening, there were 2,000 unarmed guests and staff against four heavily armed terrorists who had stormed into the hotel with the sole intent of causing maximum damage and mayhem.”

“My staff risked their lives to save our guests, assisted by local policemen, over the next 10-12 hours before we got help from the NSG. We lost staff in our kitchens, restaurants, these very corridors. They took bullets and formed a human chain so that they could protect our guests who trusted us to do so… Not a single staff member left this place,” Kang said.

Members of the UNSC’s Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) had assembled in India for a two-day meeting in Mumbai and Delhi to discuss effective ways to combat the challenges of growing terrorism. The UN body commenced the visit by paying tributes to the 26/11 terror attack victims in Mumbai. At the end of the meeting on Saturday, the 15-member UNSC CTC adopted the ‘Delhi Declaration’, which focuses on countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes.

Speaking at Taj Mumbai, Kang said, “As a survivor who lost his colleagues and family, we all must take a stand with our acts of defiance against terrorism by fighting back. My act of defiance was staying back to rebuild this place for 1.5 years.”

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