May 25, 2020
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The Evil Portents

Who were the heroes? The policemen, the NSG commandos, the army, the firemen and the staff of the two hotels. And the villains? The politicians.

The Evil Portents

Sixty hours. Sixty hours that will remain etched in memory for ever. Sixty hours of terror, trauma, tragedy and tears. It all began on Wednesday night at the Jeejibhoy Parsi agiary in Bombay’s Colaba district, on the city’s southern tip, in the military area, at the wedding reception of journalist Bachi Karkaria’s son. The time was a little before 10 pm and the second sitting for dinner was just over. Cellphones began ringing. Earlier, I had been chatting with supercop Julio Ribeiro and his wife Melba, and was getting ready to head back home. Ribeiro was the Punjab police commissioner in Chandigarh when I was also there as an editor in the mid-1980s, at the height of terrorism in the state. He survived two attempts on his life. One of the guests at the reception was also Sabina Saikia, Times of India journalist, who had come from Delhi especially for the wedding. Somehow, she left early, probably after the first sitting, at about 9 pm and returned to where she was staying, a room on the sixth floor of the old wing of the Taj Mahal Hotel. The location and the timing of her return to the hotel turned out to be tragic.

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