One Man's Act of Bravery

Karambir Singh Kang, the general manager of the Taj Mahal Hotel, acted with great courage during the Mumbai tragedy.

Karambir Singh lost his wife and two sons in the hotel when they were forced to barricade themselves inside a room on the 6th floor. They died from asphyxiation while hiding in the bathroom of their hotel residential suite. Karambir called his mom in Mohali, Kanwaljeet Kaur, to tell her what had happened.

Her words, “Go save the others,” gave him the courage to help other hotel guests while his wife and children could not be reached.

It was, he said, his mother’s words of courage that prodded him to fight back after watching his world blow into smithereens in front of his eyes. “I got a call from Karambir and his voice was shaking,” his mother Kanwaljeet Kaur said, tears rolling down.”He told me that terrorists have entered the hotel and his family is stuck on the 6th floor and that he can’t save them. I just said, ‘You are a brave boy, go save the others.” [Times of India]

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Karambir followed his mother’s advice and saved many guests at the hotel.

“He saved many amid firing and grenade explosions, but he could not reach the sixth floor where his family was trapped in their residential suite,” said Kamaljit. [Indian Express] 

Yet even after he learned of the death of his wife and children, the hotelier, originally from the Punjab, stayed at his post. On Saturday morning, when the final gunman holed-up in the landmark hotel was killed by commandos, Mr Kang was still working. Reports said that the hotel’s owner, the industrialist Ratan Tata, had to personally tell him to go home and be with his relatives. [The Independent]

Ardaas was held for Karambir’s wife and son at a gurdwara near their farmhouse in Kandala, Mohali. Outside of the gurdwara, the family installed a board where guests could pay tribute. Their message to the well-wishers was: “Now time has come to stand united and forget all differences, may it be political, ideological or religious to give a befitting reply to terrorism and those who perpetrate it.”

All those, who came to attend the antim ardas (last prayers) were seen queued up before the board to express their sentiments against terrorism. With the picture of Hotel Taj Mahal in flames on its masthead, the board read, “Now time has come to stand united and forget all differences, may it be political, ideological or religious to give a befitting reply to terrorism and those who perpetrate it.” [Express India]

When asked, “what now?” Karambir has asked for support and prayers, stating that blame was futile. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Asked what now, he simply replied, “Blaming someone won’t help make up for the irreparable loss that the family has suffered. Much has already been said and written about terrorism and the (Mumbai) incident and now all that we want is everybody’s support and prayers.” [Times of India]

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