Without waiting for orders, this braveheart followed terrorists into the Taj hotel on the night of November 26.
By the time he came out, combating firing from the Pakistani terrorists, Inspector Deepak Dhole had saved lives of seven colleagues. An injured constable died in his arms.
"Fire had spread from sixth floor to the second floor, where we were at the hotel's CCTV room. We sought help from the police control and were informed that it was on way," said Dhole.
"From 11 pm to 3 am, we were told that help was on way. We had asked for long-range weapons and an assault vehicle. We kept firing from our short-range weapons but they were no match for the terrorists' long-range arms," Dhole, who is recovering from burns that almost disfigured his face, said.
When the fire reached the second floor, engulfing the policemen, Dhole created a temporary path through the firewall to escape. His colleagues owe their life to the bravery shown by the police officer.
The Inspector has not received any award, citation or cash prize from the Government. Asked if he was upset at being left out, Dhole shrugs "I was not thinking of a medal when I went into the Taj. I answered the call of duty."
When he came to know that terrorists had entered the Taj, the Inspector rushed to the iconic hotel. "I did not wait for an order to go in," Dhole said. I went in because the Taj is in my area," Dhole, posted at the Colaba police station, said.
"Although we were a small group, we kept on firing, which created an impression on terrorists that there was a large police team downstairs. This helped in rescue of several people," Dhole said.
The fire training course during a United Nations stint in Cyprus in 2004 helped the Inspector battle the blaze at Taj. "I could create a pathway through the blaze, using skills learnt in Cyprus," he added.
The four hours he was at the Taj was something he cannot forget anytime soon. "I saw colleagues being injured and killed," he added. "A constable died in my arms. I tried to bring the body out but had to leave it as the firing intensified."
As the skin on his face had peeled away in the fire, Dhole remained confined to his home for three months. "Doctors have told me to stay out of the sun for a year," he said.