Page last updated at 04:43 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Mumbai terror attacks: UK victims one year on

On this day one year ago more than 170 people died when gunmen opened fire attacking popular sites around the Indian city of Mumbai.

British travellers were among many caught up in the violence. Here they describe how they have coped since


Will Pike, 29, and Kelly Doyle, 32, from London

Will Pike was left paralysed when he fell three stories and broke his back, pelvis and wrists while trying to abseil down knotted sheets to escape from a window at Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel.

The couple had been on the last day of their holiday. Kelly was rescued by firefighters but Will is now confined to a wheelchair. They are battling for a change in the law that would see British victims of terror attacks abroad receive compensation from the British government.

Will Pike and his girlfriend Kelly Doyle reflect on the attacks

It was continued gunfire. We had no idea what was going on. At various points that we were locked in our (hotel) room we went from a state of thinking we could defend ourselves to thinking 'We're going to get executed in our room'. I think it was just very unfortunate that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, I don't harbour any resentment. We're victims as a result but neither of us is bitter.

I don't think you can blame individuals; there's some kind of systemic failure going on where children are being raised in an environment of hate. It's not against individuals - it's against cultures, states, politics.

I can't believe it's been a year. It's been the most bizarre year. I feel very lucky. Kelly has been brilliant, my dad, my friends. From the moment I crashed into Mumbai hospital I was thanking my lucky stars.

I don't think anyone thinks whether they will be covered by a terrorist attack on their travel insurance. I'm coming into this world of compensation. There is a loophole and there is no compensation for British victims of terror abroad. I'm an anomaly.

I'm looking for a resolution. The money, well, it's about a quality of life. This (paralysis) is awful, but with money we can restore some sort of normality to our lives. If we do get compensation we can draw a line and get on with our lives. With things as they are we are stuck in the past; this is not something we want to be bound to.

I don't think we know how to mark the (anniversary). We would like to have had some resolution by now.



Joey Jeetun, 32, from London

Mr Jeetun was in Mumbai's Leopold Cafe when it was targeted by the gunmen. The British actor was on his way to see an Australian friend in Bangkok, Thailand, but he could not fly as Bangkok airport was closed. At the café he met up with another friend, Harnish Patel.

Joey Jeetun
British actor Joey Jeetun says he is 'blessed' to have survived

We heard a loud explosion. People were screaming and shouting; I saw glass flying about.

A guy on the opposite table pushed me to the ground and said 'Be quiet' - he was very quick to react. I kept my face to the ground. I was covered in blood from other people.

After two to three minutes the firing had stopped and I thought it was a car bomb. The guy next to me said they hadn't gone.

You could not tell who was alive and who was dead. I never saw the gunmen. Some people did get up and were shouting.

When I did get up I realised (Harnish) was shot in the legs twice. I went to get help and all the waiters were huddled together upstairs. When the police did come an officer put a gun to my head and said 'Where were you sitting?'

I put my hands up and pointed to my food, which was still on the table. The local Indians and Australians were allowed to go. But my mum is from Mauritius so I didn't look like the others and I was taken to the police station with other suspects. About five hours later the police commander let me go. I got a taxi back to my hotel and booked the next flight home.

It took about a month to get back to my normal life, meeting with friends, chilling out, I had a few nightmares but they went away. All my friends came to London to see me and we went out. I count myself so lucky I feel blessed, so I'm not going to get depressed about it.

I'm not going to mark the (anniversary), I will let it pass, although my thoughts will be with those who did not survive. But it has made me approach life differently, more humble.

Harnish is an inspiration, he's running marathons now!

Next year I want to start afresh. As an actor I've played terrorists before, such as one of the 7/7 bombers in the TV dramatisation, but I won't be playing a terrorist again!


Sajjad Karim MEP

The north-west of England MEP was in reception at the Taj Mahal hotel "when all hell broke loose". He was there as part of a trade delegation when a gunman opened fire with an automatic machine gun and people started to fall to the ground around him.

Sajjid Karim MEP
Mr Karim plans to revisit the hotel to achieve 'closure'

"I do still think about it. When something doesn't happen the way it should or goes wrong, previously it could have been an issue, but now it doesn't seem so final any more.

At least I'm still here; it's put things into perspective. I've seen my sister's wedding and my children's birthdays and at them I've thought 'I so nearly wasn't here'.

I'm a Muslim and Hajj is taking place on the day of the anniversary so I've travelled to Saudi Arabia to take part. It's my first Hajj.

After the attacks I threw myself completely into my work; that was my way of coping and spending more time with my family. My coping mechanism was to surround myself with lots of things to do. I've not taken any counselling but I do find myself thinking about it, I've not completely moved on.

I still see the look on the gunman's face when he was shooting and killing - and devoid of all humanity as though it had drained from him. I still see his face clearly, emotionless and then a smile. I cannot understand how anyone could be so full of hate.

It's not put me off going back there. I've not been back, but I intend going back to the lobby area of that hotel, for closure.




SEE ALSO
Mumbai shootings: Eyewitnesses
29 Nov 08 |  South Asia

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