Another unsung hero in Mumbai
In 2004, when Police Inspector Deepak Dhole picked up basic fire-fighting skills during his year-long deputation to Kosovo as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force, he had no idea the training would save his life and that of eight others.
On the night of November 26, 45-year-old Dhole, a police inspector from Colaba police station, was stranded on the second floor of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel with eight others, including a police-sub-inspector, five constables, two hotel staff members and two SRPF personnel. A large portion of their floor was on fire. When he entered the Taj around 10.40 pm that night, Dhole was accompanying Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 1) Vishwas Nangre-Patil, DCP (Special Branch) Rajvardhan and 12 others. Until 3 am, the team used the hotel's CCTV control room on the second floor to monitor the terrorists' movements and to convey crucial information to back up evacuations. But when a raging fire consumed the second floor, they were forced to give up their vantage point. However, on their way out, while the four people escaped, 10 others, including Dhole, were trapped. "We were constantly firing towards the upper floors to prevent the terrorists from coming down. They set fire to the sixth floor and threw grenades from above. As the fire spread, the CCTVs blacked out and we realized that our floor was on fire too," says Dhole. "That's when we decided to leave. But when we began moving in a line towards the nearest staircase, the terrorists rained bullets on us and our group was split." Dhole was behind SRPF constable Rahul Shinde when the latter fell to bullets, forcing them to retreat. "We saw him crumple to the floor and rushed back to the CCTV room. However, we had left the room's door open and the flames had spread inside too. We had to come out again, this time moving in the opposite direction," he recounts. Cupping his palms under Shinde's arms, Dhole began to drag his body, directing the others forward all along.
Having served 23 years in the police force, Dhole has been with the Crime Branch for 10 years. In 2001, he went on a mission to Kosovo and then on another to Cypress in 2005, as part of the UN Peace Keeping Force.
(Read the story at: Unsung hero of 26/11 saved seven colleagues at Taj )
(PI Deepak Dhole belongs to a Jain family of Sangli, Maharashtra)