“The victims were innocent people,” he says. “If you want to attack us, come fight with us (the armed forces), we have weapons too, you have weapons too. Why enter our home and kill innocent people? This was a cowardly attack, an attack on the entire Indian civilization.“Recalls former MARCOS Commander and a 26/11 hero who had saved hundreds of lives during The Taj Hotel attack at the cost of his normal healthy life.
26/11/2008 was just another day for 23 YO Praveen Teotia when he was summoned to lead a team and fight the terrorists in the Taj. Trained for the toughest, the MARCOS Commander entered the Taj shouldering the safety of his team and all the Innocents trapped inside. Recalling how the Taj’s General Manager Karambir Singh Kang was dedicatedly helping people shift to safety and simultaneously crying over the loss of his wife and two children.
He was shot several times, got his lungs damaged beyond repair, missed a headshot by an inch, lost his hearing and witnessed the failure of a defective grenade that he had thrown at the four terrorists.”If that grenade had burst, the operation in the Taj would have ended the very first night as all four terrorists would have been killed,” says Teotia about his encounter with all four terrorists in a dark room.
After saving 150 people and his entire team, the brave commando landed in INS Ashwini where Doctors saved his life only to call it a miracle afterward. Left with multiple disabilities after his recovery, the fierce was advised against performing many activities. This should’ve broken his soul, but he crushed the adversities instead.
“Slowly over many years, I rebuilt my body and attained peak fitness levels again,” he said. “I broke the records I had set before 26/11.”
He could no longer serve as a commando but He then took on the challenge of being an athlete and competed not only in the Mumbai Marathon but also went on to complete the Iron Man challenge.
“Doctors always told me, ‘you cannot do this, cannot do that’, and I started telling myself, I cannot do this, I cannot do that. I ended up building a wall of ‘cannot’ around me. But one day, I decided that enough is enough and I started making my ‘cannot’s into ‘can’s,” he said.
In position or not, wearing a uniform or not. If not by the body, then be it by soul, mind, heart, and spirit. Once a commando, always a commando!
He’s one of many who laid their lives for the sake of their country and countrymen. They’re no less than those who’re battling at the borders. As it’s been a decade to one of the most horrible nights, some wounds are still raw, some nerves still ache like it all happened a day before.
As we extend our prayers to the deceased, condolences to the bereaved families, we tearfully salute the exemplary courage ultimate sacrifice our brave hearts had shown that day!