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A marine commando recounting 26/11 attacks from ground zero

A minute-by-minute account of that fateful night, how a team of MARCOS entered the Taj, and how one of its bravehearts confronted the terrorists and was nearly killed.

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Decorated with the Shaurya Chakra for his role in rescuing hostages, Praveen Kumar Teotia was one of the MARCOS—Marine Commandos of the Indian Navy—who fought the terrorists holed up in the Taj during the 26/11 attacks, suffered near-fatal injuries and, in the end, saved hundreds of lives. Teotia, in his book, narrates a minute-by-minute account of that fateful night, how his team entered the Taj, how he confronted the terrorists and how he was nearly killed. Excerpt:

It was a usual Mumbai evening. Walking past the Leopold Café, I was headed towards the Gateway of India. The majestic Taj stood gazing at the Arabian Sea, overwhelming the tourists below. Bewildered by its imposing structure, I looked at the Taj and marvelled at its beauty. The people inside must be living such a luxurious life, I thought to myself and sighed.

It was 8 pm and the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea looked calm. Heading towards my naval base, I had one final look at the area. Some pigeons fluttered past, a policeman whistled and a hawker packed his belongings for the day. The neon-lit surrounding would now illuminate some late-night lovebirds, looking for their private space in this insomniac city. Life looked picturesque and undisturbed. Who would have known that an hour from then, death would spread its dirty tentacles, choking life out of this picture? Who would have imagined that ten men from Pakistan would come sailing through the Arabian Sea in a small boat and would launch the most dastardly attack on the city? And hardly would have I imagined that few hours from now, I will be facing these fidayeen, inside the Taj, eye to eye, and my life would change forever.

I entered the room. It was dark and silent. Ever since we had entered the Taj, there was death and mayhem around us—in the halls, the corridors, the reception area. The lazy opulence of the place had been disrupted and what stood before us was a shaken Taj. Bullet-ridden bodies were lying amidst the inferno and bloodbath. Some lucky survivors had to be pulled out with corpses lying on top of them, an experience that would torment them for life. Imagine your loved one or a complete stranger lying breathless on top of you. What could you do? Push it as if the person didn’t mean anything to you? Or just lie down with your eyes closed, smelling blood and feeling the unmoving mound of flesh on top of you, waiting to either die or be rescued?

Everything about the majestic Taj that day was pale and morbid, but the atmosphere of the room we had just entered was sinister. Danger was very close and years of my training and times spent in real operations told me that something was not right in this room. I could sense danger lurking somewhere. I became more vigil. But nothing was visible.

I was leading the team and behind me, roughly at a distance of a metre and a half, was my buddy. Third in the line was Sunil Kudiyadi, our navigator for the night. Without him, it would have been very difficult to manoeuvre through the Taj. Behind Mr Kudiyadi, there were two more commandos, Ranjeet and Ashok, and even though our friend, the security manager, had no weapon to himself, he was safely ensconced between the armed commandos. His calm demeanour was noteworthy as it helped us focus more. Mr Kudiyadi was also one of the commandos that day, albeit without an army fatigue.

One more step and I was consumed by complete darkness now. I was carrying my weapon in my right hand and with the left hand, I tried exploring the wall. ‘Where is the light switch?’ I quietly asked Kudiyadi. ‘Should be ahead.’ All of us were groping in the dark.

My left hand was now touching the wall and it provided me with support and acted as my guide while moving ahead. I was taking each step very slowly and quietly, with my eyes ocussing in the darkness. After ten to twelve cautious steps I heard a sound.

Click.

Click.

These were, in fact, two sounds coming from two different sources. It was the sound of safety catches of two AK-47s being removed. The AK-47 is one of the first true assault rifles and, due to its durability, low production cost and ease of use, the weapon and its numerous variants remain the most widely used assault rifles in the world. To fire, the operator inserts a loaded magazine, moves the selector lever to the lowest position, pulls back and releases the charging handle, aims and then pulls the trigger. In this setting, the weapon fires only once, often called semiautomatic, which requires the trigger to be released and depressed again for the next shot. With the selector in the middle position (full-automatic), the rifle continues to fire, automatically cycling fresh rounds into the chamber, until the magazine is exhausted or the pressure is released from the trigger.

The first click indicated that the attacking weapon was in single shot. The second click meant that it was now in ‘burst’ mode and with a single press of the trigger the entire magazine could be emptied. The standard magazine capacity is thirty rounds, which mean thirty bullets at once racing towards the target. Gauging by the extent of this planned assault, it was clear that the terrorists knew they were facing an army or commandos, and not ordinary citizens. They wanted to ensure maximum damage in minimum time.

I swiftly bent down a bit. They had been in this darkened room for a while, hence they must have adapted. They were able to now see the movement in the dark. With enough time, our eyes can adapt and see the low levels of light present in partial darkness. Human eyes take several hours to fully adapt to darkness and reach their optimal sensitivity to low-light conditions. The quickest gains in vision sensitivity are made in the first few minutes after exposure to darkness. For this reason, many people think that after only a few minutes, their eyes have reached their peak sensitivity. But after several hours of exposure to darkness, the eyes continue to adapt and make small gains in sensitivity. My attackers thus had an edge over me.

I, however, had just entered the room and the surroundings were unfamiliar for me. I felt a table and hid myself behind it, trying to locate the direction of the sound. It was coming from the right side of the room. My cheek placed neatly on the butt of my weapon and my fingers on the trigger, I now aimed towards the direction from where the sound was coming from. With my eyes focussing hard to decipher even an iota of movement, I was ready to take my shot. And suddenly there was a flash. The flash was followed by the sound of burst fire that was directed at me. The staccato of burst shots filled the room, leaving a deafening silence in the room.

My weapon was in single-shot mode and I immediately fired three to four shots. In a split second, it was all over.

I had been shot.

Excerpts from the book, ‘26/11 Braveheart: My Encounter With Terrorists That Night’ (Rupa).

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BOUNCE INTRODUCES A NEW ELECTRIC SCOOTER WITH SWAPPABLE BATTERY

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Bounce, India’s first smart mobility solution company, reinforced its commitment to support India’s EV potential by unveiling its first consumer electric scooter, the Bounce Infinity E1 on Thursday. The Bounce Infinity E1 will be offered with a unique ‘Battery as a service’ option – the first of its kind in the Indian market.

The scooter with battery and charger is INR 68,999 (Delhi Ex-showroom) and the price for Scooters with Battery-as-a-Service is priced at INR 45,099 (Delhi Ex-Showroom) plus subscription to Battery-as-a-Service. Customers can pre-book this smart scooter by paying a minimal amount of INR 499 which is totally refundable. Bounce Infinity E1 scooters are FAME II eligible. Here, customers have the choice of acquiring the Bounce Infinity E1 at a highly affordable price without the battery and use Bounce’s battery swapping network instead. Customers pay for battery swaps, whenever they swap an empty battery with a fully-charged one from Bounce’s extensive swapping network. This pushes the running costs of the scooter down substantially, by as much as 40 percent compared to conventional scooters. The Bounce Infinity E1 will also be offered with a battery, which can be removed from the scooter and charged by customers at their home or office or wherever convenient.

Bounce has been setting up a wide battery-swapping network through prominent partnerships, which will serve both its retail customers and its successful ride-sharing business. The ambition is to build the world’s largest and densest battery swapping platform to support India’s transition to clean mobility, and offer a swapping facility within one-kilometer distance for its customers.

Mr. Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO and Co-founder, Bounce said, “I strongly believe in the potential of electric vehicles in India – it is with this vision that we launched our in-house EV mobility solutions in June 2019. Today, we are building on our success, and to facilitate faster adoption of EVs, Bounce has taken a step ahead to develop the Infinity E1. We are committed to taking on all challenges to make India a leading EV adopter globally.”

Hallekere further added, “The Bounce Infinity E1 is designed and engineered to cater to the evolving needs of electric scooter customers in India. Our advanced ‘Made in India’ scooter will come equipped with enhanced state-of-the-art equipment and intelligent features. We are glad to announce that we are the first and only ones to provide both options – to swap batteries from our network as well as charge-at-home – for the Infinity E1.”

The Bounce Infinity E1 comes in five exciting colour options: Sporty Red, Sparkle Black, Pearl White, Desat Silver and Comed Grey. Pre-bookings started on Thursday, with deliveries slated for March 2022 through its dealership network and its online platform, for seamless deliveries across India. It will come equipped with a comprehensive warranty of 3 years, up to 50,000 kms.

Design: The Bounce Infinity E1 achieves elegance and simplicity while ensuring maximum performance. Convenience and safety have been kept in mind while delivering a thrilling ride for the commuter.

With a strong desire and determination to address the need to bring ease of commuting to people across many categories like small businesses, college students, office-goers, etc., Bounce was launched in 2018. A blend of advanced digital solutions with a seamless operations network on the ground helped Bounce become India’s largest smart mobility solution.

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INDIA LOOKING TO STRENGTHEN BILATERAL RELATIONS ON UAE’S 50TH NATIONAL DAY

The Expo has played a pivotal role in the recovery from the repercussions of the pandemic; bilateral trade is gradually seeing signs of picking up and is expected to reach pre-Covid levels soon.

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The India Pavilion yesterday marked the UAE’s 50th National Day and will be presenting an array of cultural performances showcasing a unique fusion of India’s and UAE’s culture.

India’s Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles and Leader of House in Rajya Sabha, Shri Piyush Goyal said in a tweet message: “I extend my best wishes to the leadership & people of UAE on the occasion of their 50th National Day. India Pavilion @Expo2020Dubai is a testament to solid bonds of friendship & extensive cooperation India & UAE share. Wishing 50 more years of peace & prosperity.”

The UAE National Day celebrations will be hosted at the Amphitheatre at India Pavilion. Various dance groups including Balle Balle Dubai, The Punjabi Dance Group and Dhol Tasha will perform at the ceremony to highlight India’s festive spirit and its support to the UAE, an important strategic partner for India.

H. E. Sunjay Sudhir, Ambassador of India to UAE, congratulated UAE on its 50th National Day, and said, “UAE is one of India’s most valued partners. The two nations have always shared a commitment to openness, peaceful coexistence and social harmony that are based on their cultural traditions, spiritual values and shared heritage.”

UAE’s 50th National Day is of great importance to India as it was on 2nd December 1971 when the bilateral relations between the two countries strengthened with the unification of the UAE and the Federation coming into place; exactly 50 years ago. The cultural performances will include the dance groups presenting an amalgamation of Indian dances with Arabic Music, representing the true essence of the UAE and its achievements in the last 50 years and the peaceful co-existence of varied cultures in one nation.

India is UAE’s second-largest trading partner, and the total volume of trade was estimated at USD 43 billion in 2020-21. India and the UAE are working together relentlessly to ensure long-term growth in the coming years. India has commenced negotiations with the UAE to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which will help in leveraging the complementarities in trade between the two countries and see a quantum jump in the bilateral merchandise trade as well.

The Expo2020 Dubai has been a catalyst for a stronger collaboration between India and the UAE and continues to grow and strengthen further. Besides showcasing India as an important destination on an international platform, the Expo has played a pivotal role in the recovery from the repercussions of the pandemic, the bilateral trade is gradually seeing signs of picking up and is expected to reach pre-covid level soon.

Both India and the UAE are optimistic to deepen the trade ties despite the inherent challenges. The synergies, shared vision and complementary strengths of India and the UAE present a rare opportunity to contribute to the progress of not only our two countries, but also for the larger region and the world.

The year 2021 has been an important milestone as India is celebrating its 75th year of Independence and the UAE is celebrating its 50th year of unification. This auspicious year is a stepping stone to an even stronger strategic partnership that will resonate with success in the years to come.

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India’s finest carpets, now adding life to homes in Mumbai

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Obeetee rugs have brightened homes and lifestyles for decades on end, infusing them with an impeccable sense of grandeur. Revered across the globe, Obeetee carpets continue to prosper in both Indian and international marketplaces. After taking the western world by storm, the brand now has its eyes set on capturing markets on the home turf. Mumbai the financial capital of India, is hence an obvious choice for opening their brand-new store.

‘Obeetee’ Mumbai Store

Rudra Chatterjee, Chairman, Obeetee, said, “We are firm believers of what Obeetee stands for and the value that it adds to lives and homes. Our mission to weave its brilliance into the country began with the Obeetee store in Delhi and is now reaching new heights with our new store in Mumbai. We put our heart and soul into each store to ensure it encapsulates what Obeetee is and the Mumbai store captures every essence of it. This launch is another huge step in our expansion plan and we are honored to be launching it for the world to see.”

Speaking about the new store launch, Angelique Dhama, CEO, Obeetee Retail, said, “Created with the most detailed and artisanal craftsmanship using the purest and most natural forms of materials, Obeetee carpets are unlike any other. After the overwhelming response that we received for our Delhi store, it gives us immense pleasure to expand our reach in Mumbai. We are delighted to be expanding in the home ground of the brand and enabling more people to enter this beautiful world of tradition, aesthetics and opulence. The Mumbai store has been designed with the utmost detail and crystal-clear vision and we are ecstatic to open our doors and welcome you to experience it.”

Obeetee has opened a retail store in Mumbai’s Famous Studio Worli, which attracts some of India’s most affluent crowds. The store is set within a beautiful space of approximately 3000 square feet. Characterised by room in-room experiences, the store makes the customer go on a personalized and warm soiree at all times and we call it the ‘Makers Manor. The modern luxury setting amplifies the experience of the finer details of the legacy of Obeetee and its impeccable craftsmanship. The interiors and façade have been transpired through an intricate depiction of warping of a carpet.

The store also boasts of customised lighting suitable for all times in the day and has incorporated the use of kinetic fixtures that enable customers to see the carpets vertically in its whole avatar. The contemporary use of this in-house technology helps the customer see thousands of designs at one click and is called “Carpet Diem”. This Mumbai store is set to be one of ten exclusive retail stores that Obeetee aims to open across the country in the next 3 years.

This luxurious experience is elevated to greater heights when you simultaneously sip and feel the aromatic whirlwind of specially handpicked Makai Bari tea from Obeetee’s own tea estates. We invite you to come and experience an all-encompassing experience with us.

Founded in 1920, Obeetee is one of the oldest and largest hand-woven rug companies in not only India but also the world. Expanding over a century, Obeetee has garnered an undisputed reputation in terms of its brilliance. With over 25,000 artisans dedicated to the creation of extraordinary rugs, Obeetee boasts of a community that sustains its existence and excellence.

The uniqueness and regality of Obeetee is undeniable, and the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which houses two beautiful Obeetee creations, is in agreement. In addition to that, innumerable prominent people have experienced and recognised the world of Obeetee over the years.

Obeetee has the greatest in-house rug-making capabilities in India, powered by their modern dyeing plant and ever-inspired design department. They constantly employ new textures and designs, and house over 4,000 color-fast shades of wool in their bank. Obeetee was the first company to receive the SA 8000:2001 certification for Social Accountability. The company does an endless array of things to give back to the community. From supporting children’s education, women’s vocational training, public health, and sanitation, to numerous environmentally conscious efforts, Obeetee is by the people, of the people, for the people.

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SPORTS AL DENTE TO DISTRIBUTE FREE JERSEYS

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Sports Al Dente is a rapidly growing sports news and updates website that attracts over a million site visits each month. The website’s impressive numbers are in large part due to the credibility it champions in its coverage. Sports Al Dente boasts about its exclusive content curated by dedicated sports enthusiasts and analysts.

From post-game discussions to analysis and exhaustive match reports, the website has witnessed significant growth in terms of the type of content it publishes each day. Along with providing sports fans all around the world with reliable and unbiased news, the website has now decided to venture out of cyberspace and cater to the underprivileged and masses deprived of proper sports and games facilities. In a partnership with its sister company OtakuRage, Sports Al Dente is now seeking to distribute free jerseys to the underprivileged of society. The initiative by Al Dente comes after the company decided to expand its reach to other parts of India and beyond. Based in Surat, the website has been catering to masses all over the world. The overarching mission of Al Dente has been to popularise sports and games in general. While the Indian sports scene does have a large number of athletes and enthusiasts with a keen interest in various sports, the fledgling facilities and general lack of awareness have been a massive roadblock. Sports Al Dente’s latest partnership with OtakuRage is the company’s efforts at combating the prevailing issues with the Indian sports scene.

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CANHEAL TO OFFER A WIDE RANGE OF TEAS FOR CANCER FIGHTERS

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CanHeal, a one-of-its-kind platform and e-commerce portal for all the life needs of cancer fighters and winners, on wednesday added a wide range of Darjeeling, Green and Herbal teas having health benefits for cancer fighters.

CanHeal has tied up with Darjeeling Sips to offer a large variety of tea sourced directly from tea estates in Darjeeling and the surrounding areas. CanHeal has also added to its portfolio of accessories a range of Chemo Pillows and custom-designed Chemo Bag. Explaining the additions to a wide range of products already available on the CanHeal portal, Anchal Sharma, Founder of CanHeal said, “CanHeal launched its e-commerce and community portal couple of months ago intending with an objective to offer all those products that cancer fighters and winners require to live their life with verve. During my fight against cancer, I came to know of the health benefits of tea in addition to its taste as I was always a fan of Darjeeling Sips sourced directly from tea estates that grow and brew a variety of tea in a socially responsible and planet-friendly way, hence the best fit for cancer fighters.”

“We have also added some smart products to our range of accessories – chemo bag that has been custom designed to hold all that is required during the day-long chemo sessions and pillows that include seat belt pillows, port pillow, armpit pillow and all-in-one comfort pillow to meet the cushioning needs arising due to cancer of different parts of the body. CanHeal is committed to continue adding new products to meet all the needs of cancer fighters at one source.”

CanHeal is in discussion with multiple brands to further expand the range of specially curated products for cancer fighters and winners.CanHeal is a one-of-its-kind Indian e-platform exclusively designed to serve the life needs of Cancer fighters and winners. CanHeal offers a range of Skincare, Body care & Haircare products, Apparel, Food & Nutrition Supplements to enhance immunity and regain strength and Accessories designed specifically for the comfort of patients undergoing treatment and cancer winners having special needs. This product range has been curated by Anchal Sharma.

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Top five upcoming developers changing the skyline of Delhi NCR

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MRG World (Gurugram), Whiteland Corporation (Gurugram), Maasters Infra (Noida), SKA Group (Noida), and Axon Developers emerged as the ‘Top Five Emerging Developers of NCR’ in the list announced by a Delhi-based research firm.

The survey was conducted by International Brand & Research Forum (IBRF) across the region with a special focus on projects launched, projects delivered, and progress of the projects as per RERA; IBRF researched the quality and feedback index on various parameters to come up with the result. The prime focus was on the developers operating in Noida and Gurugram market. Maasters Infra Group, instituted by seasoned professionals and under the patronage of five-decade-old infra company K. R. A. Engineers & Contractors, announced their first commercial project Maasters Capitol Avenue spread over 5 acres in Sector 63, Noida. The project will have office space and retail; the project’s total area would be 10,00,000 sq. ft. to be completed in 42 to 45 months. The company says that the total sales realisation from the project is between Rs. 800 crore to Rs. 1,000 crore. The Group is also coming up with a residential project and one IT project.

Whiteland Corporation, a real estate development company founded by industry stalwart, Mr. Navdeep JP Sardana unveiled the first look of their maiden commercial project Urban Cubes 71 recently in Gurugram. Some of the brands signed, include Striker, Beer Cafe, Nostalgia, Houz Cafe & Bar. The project on Golf Course Road extension, Sector 71, Gurugram, is on a land parcel of about 3 acres acquired from DLF. Urban Cubes 71 is an approved SCO (Shop-cum-Office) development with a total of 34 state-of-art buildings with maximum development facing the main road making it highly attractive. The project is slated to be delivered by October 2022 with a total salable area of 4.5 lac sq. ft. and a projected sales value of Rs. 500 crore.

Realty firm Axon Developers, which has been newly set up by promoters of brokerage firm 360 Realtors, has recently taken over two stressed real estate projects in Delhi-NCR and will invest over Rs. 300 crore to complete them. The company has entered into a development agreement to complete Keltech Kumar Imperial Green project, comprising 350 flats at Noida extension in Uttar Pradesh. It has fully acquired a retail project ‘Manish Gallexie 91’, having 3.5 lakh square feet saleable area, in Gurugram from Manish Buildwell. The company expects a sales realisation of around Rs. 650 crore from these two projects, of which Rs. 500 crores will come from retail projects. Axon Developers is looking at acquiring more projects in Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Lucknow, both through greenfield and brownfield routes.

SKA GROUP was formed with a view to construct group housing society in Greater Noida-West. SKA Group was started in the year 2012. Recently, the Group announced its luxury residential project, SKA Orion in Sector-143, Noida. Spread over 3.5 acres, the cost of the project is Rs. 400 crore out of which Rs. 300 crore is the cost of construction and Rs. 100 crore is the land cost. The Group is looking at total sales realisation of approximately Rs. 450 crore. To be developed in single-phase, the project has 508 units of 3 BHK configuration; the company has launched 380 units of the total stock and will complete the project by 2026. All projects are completed before time. Presently, five projects are in progress and all projects are ahead of their schedule.

Catering to the affordable housing segment, MRG World has ensured that they live up to the expectations of the middle class to move into their abodes as soon as possible. The directors – Rajat Goel and Vikas Garg – set up the company with a motive to cater to the segment that has the maximum demand. MRG World ensured that they deliver projects before the promised deadline.

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