The chairman of a private bank who was taken hostage by terrorists at Hotel Taj during the November 26 siege on Thursday told the special court that his captors whipped and interrogated him.
"They (terrorists) asked me whether I was an architect or a scientist, but I told them I was a teacher..." the banker said.
"Hearing this, one of the terrorists, who was speaking on mobile, told the person at the other end that I was a teacher.
... After some time he got angry and said to me: how can a teacher with salary of Rs 25,000 stay at Taj?
"They whipped me." When asked whipped with what, he said, it seemed to be a rope. "I could not do anything as I was lying on the ground face down," the banker-witness said.
This witness is first of the hostages at Hotel Taj to depose before special court trying terrorist Ajmal Kasab and two others.
Before the terrorists entered room no. 632 where he was staying, he had been alerted by the hotel reception about "emergency". He also saw report of terrorist attack on television. So when around 11 at night he heard knocks on the door, with words "room service", he did not open.
"Suddenly I heard gunshots outside the door, and the door was flung open. Two gentlemen came in. One of them held a gun to my head while other struck a blow to my neck," he said.
Then the banker was taken outside and was made to knock on the doors of adjoining rooms. He followed instructions but there was no response.
Then two terrorists pushed him back into the same room and asked him to remove his 'kurta' and 'pyjama'. He was hesitant, but they hit him, so he followed.
The witness, a non-executive chairman of a private bank, said he was a professor in Bangalore University.
"They did not believe that I was a teacher and struck me and asked whether I was a smuggler, to which I said no. All through, one of the terrorists was speaking on mobile and seeking instructions from other end," the banker told the court.
The captors saw a sacred thread around his torso, and asked whether he was a Brahmin. Then the witness cried, and told them he was a blood pressure patient. But they tied him up, and made him lie down, he said.
Four hotel boys were brought to the room by two other terrorists. They too were interrogated.
"We were five hostages and four terrorists in the room," he told the court. Around 2am terrorists took them to the floor below, to room no. 520.
The banker told the court that around 3am they heard a blast, but terrorists were not seen around. He said he managed to free himself and then freed the four hotel boys.
The hotel boys tied blankets to make a rope and climbed down from a window. But the banker was nervous, so he instead went down to the third floor.
After seeing that light was on in one of the rooms on the floor, he went inside and saw fire brigade snorkel approaching from outside.
"At around 6 am on November 27, I was rescued by fire brigade officials."