“Sitting here watching the Taj burn down”

By Reuters Staff
November 27, 2008

Reuters Editor, South Asia, Phil Smith is reporting from outside the landmark Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, where Western hostages are being held.

“The scene at the famous gate of India is chaos, with dozens of army, police and fire trucks struggling to control a situation which began in the late evening on Wednesday. Searchlights illuminate the front of the Taj hotel, as up to five gunmen hold hundreds of hotel guests hostage. There have been several explosions from inside the hotel and earlier, grenades were thrown from windows and exploded in the street.

“At around 3 a.m., a large explosion set fire to the top part of the building, and fires are still burning on the upper floors.

“There have been rescue attempts by firefighters with hotel guests plucked from lower floor front windows by ladder and hydraulic lift. As they fled the scene, they told how they barricaded themselves in their rooms after hearing explosions and automatic fire in the hotel. There are similar scenes across the peninsula at the Trident hotel where another siege is going one.

“As dawn approaches, the fate of the remaining hostages is still unclear.”

To listen to Phil’s audio account click here.

Smoke rises from the Taj Hotel in Mumbai November 27, 2008. REUTERS/Arko Datta

106 comments

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The disgraced ruling party says they will talk to people accross border !!! Talk ? TALK ??? Its time to boot all pakis from the face of earth. balls to UN and western support to fight islamists. declare war..NOW

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

Indeed some thing waiting to happen. The blame game is bound to heighten, consuming innocent and everyone along with it.

I suppose this should be a wake-up call to the threats that every peace loving nation faces. There are those who are bent on carrying their agenda in whatever means they deem fit. With so much firepower, one imagines how these terrorists come by the weapons. Surely these cannot be manufactured without governments turning a blind eye. While we are quick to pass judgment, going beyond the shallow comments, there remains humanity failure of immense proportions. We have not progressed much these hundreds of years to be able to sit down and work through our differences.

The people who carried out these attacks are being condemned but will probably not live to answer in this lifetime of theirs. The real masterminds remain without being touched, suppliers and perpetrators alike.

Posted by Ashvin | Report as abusive

It’s time for India to talk to Pakistan and try to find some common ground and in doing so stop terrorists from coming across India’s borders. Only through working together will we ever live in peace. Don’t take out your anger on Muslims as most are peaceful people, instead talk to them, try to unite together and make the terrorists task that bit harder.

Posted by Jennings | Report as abusive

Interesting and thought-provoking piece about the intense and quite challenging coverage of the tragedy on Twitter. See http://tinyurl.com/62w8nk. “Even if the truest signal was actually coming through Twitter it was so drowned in rumour, personal utterance, revenge and irrelevance as to be incomprehensible. In the flattened world of the Social Web there is clearly no filter on decency or taste.”

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

Govt must introduce new law – Allowing people to recall their cadidate/representative from Lok Sabha/Raja Sabha/Assembly/Panchayat- at all level s after 1.5 years of election. if he fails to do his duty honestly.

Posted by Raja | Report as abusive

Its a shameful and dastardly act…but more sad is the fact that after a few days, it will be just another incident. The only people affected would be those who lost their near and dear ones..India has now consistently faced terror acts regularly whether it was Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Bangalore…religion and region based politics can lead us nowhere and one has to go beyond divisive thinking..blame game against a particular religion, country is certainly not the answer

Posted by Usha | Report as abusive

This is a time not to fall into a blame game, but be united and calm in the present situation. Yes, the blasts again has fuelled our concerns for the govt being soft on terror. It’s time when the approach should be attacking and not defensive.

If US can attack Afghanistan to prevent its soverignity, India can also do so. It is just a matter of will. We need a leader like Indira gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi in these times.

Posted by Rahul Sharma | Report as abusive

Dear Jenifer, are you aware that India has been talking to pakistan.Our PM Atal Bihari went to paksitan and we were awarded with Kargil war. We gave them money land and everything in return we got terrorists? They have unilaterally broken all talks,accords and agreements.Jenifer why didn’t you advise Bush adminstration to talk with the taliban afghan government?Why don’t you advise to talk to obama when he says we will attack pakistan. Stop this hypocrisy

Posted by Arun | Report as abusive

Are you aware how many innocent Indians were droven out from Kashmir by these militants?Are you aware how many millions were made homeless and refugees in their own coutry by these militants in Kashmir?Are u aware how many innocent Indians and soldiers this week were killed by terrorists in Kashmir?Are you aware how many million of Innocent Indians were killed in Kashmir by terrorists just because they were following a religion – which was not Islam – traditionally since centuries even before Islam existed in kashmir?Do you understand how many people in kashmir had to loose their life property and everything just because they were not Muslims?

Posted by Jetley | Report as abusive

We need change. Narendra Modi for Prime Minister.

Enough is enough. If the country cannot come together now and drive the politicians out and ensure the law enforcements agencies are kept outside the reach of politicians then sure the terrorist have proved their point again and again. Enough of VOTE BANK politics. Mumbai has been the worst hit city of World (repeated attacks in past 10 years). We need HOME LAND SECURITY and We need a National ID that ties to the DNA of every Indian citizen. We need the toughest immigration laws and we do not need BUSES and TRAINS going to and fro from Pakistan.

Posted by Ross | Report as abusive

Terrorist in taj where is Mr.Raj (Mr marathi ) a guy who is so much worried about mumbai is not to be seen….

Posted by Vishal | Report as abusive

It’s very refreshing to see that for the most part at least, Indians are keenly aware of the fact that what they are going through right now is what Pakistan has been battling with for the last 4 years non-stop while it keeps increasing in ferocity.
I am saddened by the loss of life and the chaos that has struck Mumbai, and my heart goes out to all those who lost loved ones. There will always be those who will respond to hate with hate, but that is not the way to go. There will always be those pointing fingers, and I hope they realise they are only exacerbating matters, and stop. But for now, we are united in grief. These militants are sick, and to assign a religion to them is an insult to all religions.

Sickening and disgusting are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when one recalls the government’s response to the events that have taken place in what is probably one of India’s most traumatic moments. To say that we have reached a critical juncture in our fight against terrorism would be putting it lightly. That we have the Nehruvian legacy in charge and a spectre for a Home Minister does not help matters. As usual, our ‘Neighbours’are responsible!! This is the world’s next superpower!! This is the best that the Hon.PM’s spin doctors could come up with. India is definitely facing the sternest test in its fight for the security of its citizens, its standing in an emerging new world order is under review.Rhetoric against Pakistan&Co will get us nowhere.

The world is watching.Can we pick up ourselves and give a befitting reply to those involved? Will the senile polity finally wake up to the fact that despite the Mahatma’s best intentions,we need to shift from being seen as a nation that drags its feet as its own citizens are being slaughtered to one that will go to any length to protect them.

Are Indian lives less in value,just because there are over a billion of them?? I am sure the governments of the foreigners killed will rain fire and brimstone on those responsible,while,it is a great shame that this country’s machinery will, at best hold meetings, appoint committees and hurl a few shells across the border.

This is the time to act.We could either lay the foundation to becoming a true superpower that can ensure the safety of its citizens wherever they are, or become the biggest joke of the 21st century, the nation that “could have been”, the greatest democracy that disintegrated because it forgot a basic tenet of democracy, its only claim to greatness: the security and the lives of its citizens.

Where do we go from here? It would be wishful to even hope that we might see an answer on the lines of the aftermath of the Munich Olympics,but nevertheless, failure to take concrete and effective action would severly damage our credibility and the morale of the country as a whole. Definitve, hard hitting responses are not options any longer, but the need of the hour. All this may sound like war mongering, but the truth is that this is a sign of the times, and that we need to look ahead,and make sure anyone thinks twice before travelling down such a path ever again. The Indian Government’s answer will determine wether we miss the bus or we board it, as far as geo-politics and the projection of power are concerned. This would have a domino effect on all other strategic manoeuvres as well.

The lives lost are irreplaceable, but we owe it to them to make sure this never happens again. JAI HIND!!

Posted by Philip | Report as abusive

I never wanted to believe the crazy futuristic moves about how this world is going to be chaotic, I guess I am just plain wrong. These attacks are just not a good sign, this is going to be a never ending war now. So many people will be losing lives in future. As Gandhi said, do we need something really big to happen to realize to live in harmony, I guess so!
This is just not good at all, I see the signs of third world war happening now, even as I write this and we don’t realize that so many humans are getting killed in terrorist attacks every day throughout the world. This war is between Islam and rest of us.
God bless Human kind, if he exists.

Posted by Satish | Report as abusive

Why doesn’t west help India to attack pakistan? Why usa didn’t talk with muslims or al-quida?

Posted by ritu | Report as abusive

have u seen the news one of the guy captured is from Pakinstan punjab province so tell us who should we blame on .

let me tell u this 80 % of muslims will any thing for your Religion .

it is time either attach pakis or move all muslims india to they countries like pak, bangladesh .
or may be to kashmir .

Posted by vishnu | Report as abusive

There is no point in blaming a particular religion for the tragic events, extremist elements exists in all religion and state. When i saw the news last night, my first reaction was to blame a community for the disaster, but i realized that as soon as we do that the terrorist have won. All they want to achieve is for us INDIANS to fight amongst ourself, the only way defeat these extremist is by uniting under our flag and thus showing them what ever their acts, they will never break us.

The A.T.S. needs to be given powers, equipment and training which might even involve taking help from other countries and they need to work in environment free of a political system, because the political parties who ever it might be will have constraints, it may be cast, agenda based.

Posted by cg | Report as abusive

why the Indian govt. forgot an old saying ” brick for a stone” your talks will end in a deadlock but their bullets and bombs will never end. So it is a time to fight back. stop going to usa for support. you have manpower, use it. our politicians should stop fighting between themselves and do some thing for country.the dead may be a musilim or a hindu but the assult was on india and all citizens have to fight back.the cought terriorist should be prosecuted straight away.

Posted by archana | Report as abusive

They have killed more Indians by terrorist attacks then they could in war.Either pakistan doesn’t exist.Merge it with India or stop this pretension of secularism.Let muslims live in peace in pakistan.A terrorist calls and talks of deaths of muslims in kashmir (these muslims are terrorists). It was they who killed millions and made milions Indians homeless because they were not muslims. What a hypocrisy
If animal or lion attacks you, you don’t forgive him and present yourself as food.
It is survival. Either it is pakistan or us
But this government is in clandestine nexus with Terrorist muslim.They are hypocrites
They will only talk but never do anything
It is time to HAVE A NUCLEAR WAR and finish off pakistan once and for all
Let world stand up and see MIGHT OF INDIA

Posted by kamal | Report as abusive

Its not that I’m not sad at what has happened…I have trained at the Taj…the Hotel is a dream …to see it burn! A community has been targeted, Indian’ blood has been shed. Its sad, but it could have been much worse. On a recent trip from Gateway of India, I had made an observation which I shared with closest of friends…God forbid if something like that were to happen! Its as if the security apparatus is oblivious to the possibility of threats! Or perhaps they’re trying to be “politically correct” by keeping their mouths shut…or worse still, they could be ignoring all this, and going back to their Malegaon investigation desks…Wake up countrymen! Kick out these politicians who are undermining national security COMPLETELY and authorising colonisation of India by illegal immigrants- just to secure their votes! Don’t be under any misimpressions, or one day we will be where Pakistan is today – a failed country.

Posted by Ravi | Report as abusive

Religion has advanced civilization like no other organization on Earth, however, lately, it seems to breed murderers, paedophiles, extortioners. In the 21st Century, the world is more civilized than at any time, and if, religion no longer offers anything to this advancement, and if, in fact, it detracts from man’s advancements and destabilizes his progress, then a unified response must be made by those with a duty of care for society.

Maybe it is time for faith to be a personal matter and no longer a place where anarchy is cultivated.

Posted by manny | Report as abusive

I always see terrorism with bombings associated with Muslims. It is just synonymous. It is obvious that their religion allows such behaviour. Treat others as you would teate yourselves. Such a wonderful and fundamental teaching of Christ. What is the rationale of bombing cities and nations to make a point? If one can go to heaven by bombing and killing another, there is something fundamentally wrong with these people’s believes.

Posted by Christian | Report as abusive

I AM WRITING FROM PAKISTAN!!!the fact that these cockaroaches call themselves, muslims is sick.If any are found alive, they should be shot and killed. to think they use islam as a means to kill innocent civilians is disgraceful. I know your feelings anger and resentment towards us, but also know that we too had recent bomb attacks at hotels in pakistan. we have many suicide attacks in our own country that have killed innocent people and anger our people as well. but to my good neighbors in India, stay strong, and show untiy amongst all your people. we pray for u. regardless of what you may think of us, many of us have our ancestory from india and still have family back there. we are with u, we feel ur pain. we see the result of these types of attacks as our people are killed regularly by these types of people. to suggest thinks like war and nuclear attacks is foolish. millions of lives on both sides will be lost. it is times like these when our governments needs to show strength and come together to eliminate a problem that infects both our nations. india zindabad, pakistan zindabad,

Posted by ali | Report as abusive

It is an excruciting for all of us to see this kind of horor. However, we forget to realize that India was colonized by British for at least 150 years. There are lots of freedom fighters grand-children. They will never like to see any foreigners in their lands. Also we need to put in consideration that they might not have well treated and respected.They have strong feeling that the country is belong to them because their grand-fathers fought for it.

More people hv died in name of god then in any war or by any natural calamities – Let God fight its own war Y V hv to fight from last 1400 yrs n if there would hv been any God Y he would hv not intervened & stop this menace for once n for all – its nothing about any god or religion or faith because few people R smart to know that there is no Entity called God & use this Term to his Own Personal agenda – Let it be Muslim , Christian or Hindu or Buddhist or Jew – Its the Humanity that Suffers – When will the 90% of the Worlds Population understand this Hidden agenda & the Gr8 Conspiracy of Inventing God n Religion.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

hey christian, you always see terrorism associated with muslims and that’s because it is. Likewise Muslims always see B-52 and drone attacks and occupation assocated with christians and that’s because it is. Please spare us Christ whom both you and muslims revere and neighter apparently can leave in peace. God knows 1400 years of muslim rule has been just as violent as 2000 yeears of christian rule.

Posted by tes | Report as abusive

It May be,or irrational people like Americans work to bring down the economy of India. But My country will not be put down My Inida will shine inspite of all obstackles

Posted by Ravi | Report as abusive

The problem is main stream religions breed extremism. While I recognize religious faith can have positive benefits to certain individuals, religious belief systems are based on lies. This is plain as day to a free thinker.

Posted by Don Gourp | Report as abusive

Christian- the news never portrays christian radicals and terrorists as that but lists them as insane or something else instead. Think Oklahoma City, can you imagine the headlines reading White Christian Radical Terrorist blows up Federal Building? Yet that is what happened. Open your eyes…open your eyes.

May everyone else get out of this safely and my condolences to the victims’ families.

Posted by yolanda | Report as abusive

Yesterday it happened.. today its accustomed.. and tomorrow.. we forget.. thats what has been happening with our country.. How long should innocent lives be lost to such mad fanatics…. please.. do something.. please dont politicise such situations.. why the hell do politicians have to descned when the situation is so grave..we are already short of forces.. and these people come and take over some more.. God give them some sense.. there comes a day when people of India teach these stupid politicians a lesson…

is it becuase no politician is killed… one day it happens to them.. and they will know how bitter a comman feels…

Posted by Nirmal | Report as abusive

What are you guys taking about?? Muslims & Christians??? We are INDIANS!!! If we don’t stand united no matter what race caste or creed… we WILL fall…

Posted by Di | Report as abusive

To Christian,
Your reaction is exactly what these type of terrorists want to produce. If you truly want to judge a religion, it’s better to learn about it, do not judge based on people who claim to practice it.
Because, people can be manipulated.
Through out the history of mankind, religion has been used to manipulate people to attain goals designed by far more complicated and evil minds.
In an occasion such this, our job is to trust each other. And move against evil together. Its not only Christianity that promotes peace. All religions do.

Posted by Suranjana | Report as abusive

Three most basic steps to stop terrorism:

1.Media to boycott all news related to terrorism.It may show news related to terrorism as news items but strictlY not to cover events live.

2.Law should ensure politicans are not allowed to make statements either directly or indirectly on religion,cast and creed.They should only be allowed to discuss relavant social,economic,constitutional etc issues.Religion should strictly be considered a personal issue.

3.Never discuss,negotiate, debate with terrorists.

The moment we start blaming muslims and fight among ourselves, the terrorists would have won.. and no big army can save us from that hell hole when we divide and quarrel

Posted by DD | Report as abusive

This is the time to call emergency situation in the country and let army forces handles the entire situation in the country for at least 6 months and let them wash out all these mad dogs

Posted by Ravinder Kaushik | Report as abusive

Entire world should condemn this terrorist attack on civilians. If Indian government can now understand how terrorists can bring a country down and more importantly how helpless you are even though you are a super power, when out siders help spread terrorism in your country and you can’t do anything to save civilians in the country.
At least now India should stop supporting terrorism in the south asian region. As a Sri Lankan who suffered from LTTE terrorist problems we have faced to this situation in Colombo capital few many times in past few decades. While urging the entire world to take hand in hand to stop terrorism in the world, I can’t forget that India helped LTTE long time back and even now TamilNadu politicians are trying to push Indian government to help saving LTTE terrorists in Sri Lanka just for few more dirty votes in their elections and to full fill their hunger for power.
Should all Sri Lankans die from LTTE bombs keep the support of TamilNadu politicians for the Indian government.
Please stop supporting terrorism in other countries while you always have people dying in your country due to the same reason.
By supporting LTTE terrorists, TamiNadu politicians may get few more votes in your election if you think you have majority racists among your people. However they will someday regret on their acts of supporting terrorists and killing thosands of people just for power, for few more racist votes.

The easiest thing those Terrorists and TamilNadu politicians can do is to cover behind some ethnic group and use them to full fill their desires. LTTE never represent Tamils they only use Tamils to achieve their goals.

Posted by Ram | Report as abusive

Why do you talk about washing out these mad dogs in your country. Why don’t you talk to those terrorists and give them what ever they want. That’s what TamilNadu politicians push Sri Lankan government to do in Sri Lanka.
As a nation suffer from LTTE terrorism over decades, we Sri Lankans are against any type of terrorism which will only kill innocent people and destroy the countries and their economies. When compared to the number of civilians killed by LTTE bombs on busses, trains, office buildings, temples in Colombo capital Sri Lanka this is nothing. However with our experience with LTTE over decades we know better than any other nation that you can’t talk about peace and negotiate with terrorists. They only understand the war and killing. Terrorists will only go to peace talks when ever they are very weak. It is just to strengthen them during the peace talks with the support from out siders like TamilNadu terrorist suppoting politicians and then go back to the war with more strength and kill more people. This is the only thing we learnt from LTTE for more than 30 years.

Are your politicians in the sothern part of your country still want to help terrorists after all this??

Posted by Ram | Report as abusive

If India want to stop terrorism in our country we should not allow TamiNadu to support terrorist gangs in other countries.
It’s true that almost all the terrorist hangs try to represent some ethnic group as that’s the easiest way to achieve their goals and win some people in their journey to their goal. So that they can use racially motivated people to bring them to their ultimate goal.

It’s not all politicians or all the people in TamilNadu, it’s only one political party who supports LTTE. However Indian government will never be fooled by their protests. Indian government can stand on it’s word against terrorism with the force from those politicians.

Posted by Gaurav | Report as abusive

Is this really a religious issue? When I first heard about it, it was reported as islamic terrorists. But it seems that Pakistan is probably involved, and considering their history, I have to agree with the Indians that it is more politically motivated than religious.

Posted by unreal | Report as abusive

Well, why Indian army didn’t storm all the hotels the WAY DID IN GOLDEN TEMPLE–where they killed 1000′s innocents—Indian Hindus need to realize that if they can’t get the freedom by them self—why they want to claim India as HINDUSTAN– It is land of all

Posted by XYZ | Report as abusive

hello everybody from Spain!!!
I´m still astonished seeing Bombay images on TV,but it only comes to my mind one thing:terror hits everywhere and everyone when it can.Hating between muslims and hindis is not the solution,is the problem.We suffered here in Spain the islamic terror hate and goverments need to reach agreements among them to try to solve it.Criminalize pakistanese government is a truly mistake,they are also suffering slaughteries in.Al-qaeda is behind all these disgraces.All the world and muslims first should fight against them and send them off.!!!!

WHY?? WHY??? WHY???
I just wonder what the motive was!!!! Without reason, so long time firing and playing hide and seek with our commandoes cannot be the target of those insane organized criminals . They must had motive to do this. They haven’t done this due to the situation. This situation had been creadted by them deliberately. This was reason, they carried with that amount of ammunition. They were organized; as news shows,the ground of this disaster event had taken place 10 months ago when the trainee chef had joind the hotel, he just wanted to have the knowledge of the hotel from every corner as well as the timing of attack and he had taken full advantage of his knowledge.
My assumption is that their goal was to lengthen the battle so that they can establish the terror inside our people and they wanted to spread this terror news around the world!!! why??? to weaken our economy???? to weaken our relatioship with neighbour country??? Why????
Anyways, we just cannot make them successful to achive their goal and only media can do this. Pleaseeeee telecast this event as only news. No media hype or any speculated comments with a certain name.
Thanks to Star News. This is the only news channel that fully understands its responsibility. This channel was repeatedly denying in disclosing our commandoes movement so that insane group cannot get any help. On the other hand, from Europe we were watching all black cats’ movements and their situation (given by NDTV) in PTV prime. It was shame!!!!

Posted by arpita | Report as abusive

As yet, we do not know what grievance led a group of young men to kill fellow human beings in Mumbai but it is likely that religion is of great importance to them. Religion is passed from guardian to child – a burden and an unnecessary sickness – like a virus.

The partition of 1947 emphasised religious differences within India/Pakistan that previously were tolerated between neighbours. A great tragedy. It should never have happened.

It has been suggested that some of the terrorists are from UK.
I am in UK where we have Pakistani and Indian enclaves. Some third generation British Pakistanis feel uneasy about our close association with America – and so do I! We are supposed to be part of the European Union, not one of the United States of America.

If British Pakistanis are out fighting a cause, they do so partly because of the UK/American ‘marriage’ and partly with the excitement of promoting a religious cause.

If I could wave a magic wand I should wish for a United India/Pakistan/UK.
We lived together for over three hundred years. We are the same. You only have to look at the cricket!

Posted by Lynne Haywood | Report as abusive

Muslims, Indians, Westerners, all need to band together

There are no bad countries. And there are no bad religions…

There are just people…..

Some are good…

And a few are bad..

Posted by Pete | Report as abusive

No comments…. i am indian i blame all this for Dirty politics all around world……….

Posted by Prashant | Report as abusive

It’s a sad day for all of us south asians. What happened in Mumbai can now happen anywhere around south asia. Is there any place left where people and tourists can feel safe and relaxed?

Posted by jal | Report as abusive

what purpose there are terrar atteck i don’t know

what reason,i thought that if indian militaries are there are protecting very well but how can entering other attacking terrors i don’t know

People are here, with no knowledge of Sri lankan Terrorism. Sad!

Posted by Bhaskar | Report as abusive