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Charles meets gun attack survivors


The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are on a nine-day tour of India

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are on a nine-day tour of India

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are on a nine-day tour of India

The Prince of Wales heard the remarkable story of two hotel chefs who were shot but survived the Mumbai terrorist attacks as he paid tribute to those who were killed.

One man was sprayed with bullets and left for dead while the other was also targeted by gunmen as he tried to help guests escape from the exclusive Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall met the pair - Nitin Minocha and Raghu Deora, both 39 - as the Prince laid a wreath at the hotel in memory of the 30 guests and staff killed on November 26 2008.

More than 160 people died over three days after 10 terrorist commandos came ashore in a boat and launched attacks against luxury hotels, a railway station, tourist cafes and a Jewish centre in Mumbai.

When Charles first heard the story of the two men, who have known each other since they were students, he turned to Camilla and said: "These two were shot."

The chefs share much in common - both are the sons of army men, who trained together at catering college and got their first jobs together at the Taj Palace.

Mr Deora told the prince how he had been hiding in the first-floor kitchen along with a father and his son when a gunman discovered them and they were forced to lie face down in a corridor.

He recalled: "He asked us our names, realised we were not the ones he was looking for and then shot all three of us with a spray of bullets.

"First they hit my leg and broke it, and the second went through the back of my stomach like a punch. The other two just couldn't make it and died in front of me. The gunman presumed I was dead."

He crawled past colleagues who had been killed - seven of the hotel's chefs were shot dead - and was eventually rescued by the hotel's head of security, Sunil Kudiali, who oversaw the security for Charles and Camilla's visit.

His college friend and Taj colleague Mr Minocha told the Prince that he had been thrown to the ground by a hail of gunfire while trying to help guests escape through a back entrance.

But when he tried to stand up he was shot in the hand and has since needed nine operations to restore its full use.

Charles asked: "Was it a Kalashnikov?" and the chef replied: "I think it was a fake Chinese one, because it caused so much damage," indicating his hand and arm which was covered with a protective support bandage.

Later the two men joked about their ordeal, saying their fathers had never been shot, despite being in the army, while the cooks had both been hit by bullets.

The hotel's head of security, Mr Kudiali, described how he had chased after the terrorist commandos after hearing machine gun fire and was forced to retreat after being shot at himself.

Along with other staff, he tried to distract the attackers.

He said: "One person had started firing inside Shamiana (the hotel's coffee shop) and I thought I could take him on. I ran through the corridor that links the two wings, then realised that one terrorist was in the corridor waiting. He started firing at me continuously."

Mr Kudiali later saw one of his colleagues, a popular chef at the hotel whom he had been with in the morning, dead on the floor along with two others. One of them was Mr Deora, whom he saved.

He added: "I lost a lot of friends. and they shot my dog, Lucy. She was a sniffer dog and she and her handler ran towards the smell of sulphur and was shot twice at point-blank."

Later, Bollywood stars came out in force for a dinner staged by the India Advisory Council of Charles's charity the British Asian Trust (BAT), which he and Camilla attended.

Among the guests were famous Indian actor Gulshan Grover, husband and wife stars Ajay and Kajol Devgan, and veteran Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid.

Ajay Devgan is an action hero star of more than 80 Bollywood hits who performed during the dinner with his wife, one of India's most successful actresses.

The lavish event was hosted by Mukesh Ambani, chairman of the conglomerate Reliance Industries and the world's wealthiest Indian, and Ratan Tata, whose family trust company owns Jaguar Land Rover and Corus steel.

The black-tie do promoted the work of the BAT, which was formed in 2007 to help channel donations from UK Asian philanthropists to good causes in the Indian sub-continent.

Indian top earners are more likely to donate to temples than give money to charities or similar good causes.