Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni paid floral tributes to the victims of the 26/11 terror attacks, at the iconic Taj Hotel here on Saturday.
Before boarding the team bus for the fifth and final day’s play of the third and final Test against the West Indies, the star cricketers, staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel - one of the sites under siege by terrorists - paid homage to the victims by offering flowers at the Gateway of India.
“It was a terrible attack on Mumbai. The Indian team was playing that day in Cuttack and all of us were stunned on hearing the news. First of all, we were not sure about what exactly happened but when we got back to our room and switched on the TV, we were shocked,” Mr. Sachin said.
“And today, on 26/11/2011, we are staying in the same Taj that was attacked by terrorists. It was indeed a strange feeling. That is why Mr. Dhoni and I thought of offering our heartfelt homage to those who lost their lives during this attack,” he said.
The master blaster also thanked the jawans and the security men, who laid down their lives in the line of duty to protect the country.
“All of us are quite aware of what our jawans and commandos do to protect our beloved motherland. We are thankful to them. And, lastly, my heart goes out to those families who lost their loved ones during that attack,” he said.
Mr. Dhoni, who was recently conferred with the rank of honorary lieutenant colonel by the Territorial Army, praised the jawans and commandos saying that they were the ones who deserved to be treated as heroes and not the cricketers.
“I always feel proud as an Indian citizen - more so, as captain of the Indian team. Cricket matches are like, say, mini battles because you are representing your country. That’s why incidents like 26/11 leave us in a state of shock. We often wonder why it happens. We were really moved after seeing the destruction caused by these incidents.”
“At the same time, we feel proud of our jawans and commandos who risk their life to provide security to us. I once attended a one-day training session of NSG commandos. I was really surprised by the kind of preparation that goes into getting them battle ready. We really feel embarrassed when they call us their ‘heroes’”.
“I think we are only sport heroes but the real life heroes are those people. It is really impossible to describe their deeds in words. But we feel happy and satisfied when we come to know that they like to watch us play,” he added.