Dilip Mehta woke up to the news of death and carnage in a city that holds special significance for him. A businessman, Mr. Mehta was at Taj Mahal Palace and Tower on November 26, 2008, when terrorists struck, and spent nine hours wondering when they would storm the banquet hall where he was hiding. In 2011, he went on to represent India at the International Congress on Victims of Terrorism in Paris, where suicide bombers struck on Friday night, killing 127 and leaving countless others injured.
“I found myself recalling the experience I went through seven years ago and could imagine what the people of Paris would have felt when they were attacked. I was trying, once again, to fathom why such attacks keep taking place,” said Mr. Mehta.
In 2008, Mr. Mehta, along with 38 others, including some foreign diplomats, was attending an official function at Rendezvous, a banquet hall on the 22nd floor of the Taj, when the attack began. A team of South African commandoes having dinner at the Souk restaurant next door rushed to the banquet hall to help, along with the hotel’s security officials.
All the doors were closed and for the next nine hours, the group waited in the dark, not knowing what was coming next.
“My family was at home and I was in touch with them. They were crying over the phone. None of us knew what we were going to do if the terrorists barged inside. Finally, after nine long hours, we were evacuated via the fire exit. We were told not to make any noise,” Mr. Mehta recounted.
In 2010, the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his desire to meet the 26/11 victims during his visit to India. Mr. Mehta met Mr. Sarkozy along with the other victims and their families.Mr. Mehta was invited to participate in the International Congress on Victims on Terrorism in Paris, where he represented India.
“I was watching one of the survivors — an English lady who saw the attack up close — narrate what she witnessed. She looked shattered and I could relate with that closely. It is terrible the way a handful of men can hold cities to ransom and kill hundreds of people,” he added.