An NSG commando's advice to the common man

While the nation watched in horror, the city of Mumbai reeled under the terror strikes of 26/11.
Images of fire brigades, ambulances, NSG commandos and the police force flashed across every television set in the country, but even as we watched the extensive coverage, there were things we missed. What went on inside the buildings under siege is something only the hostages and the armed forces can tell us.

Captain AK Singh was one of several commandos who risked their lives battling terrorists at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai during the siege of 26/11. Here are some of the tips for him

Try and save yourself first

If you ever find yourself under attack, try and save yourself first. Being a hero is admirable, but it's more sensible to make sure you're safe before trying to assist others.

In a hostage situation
In case you are ever taken hostage, follow all the instructions of the terrorists. Don't try to oppose or anger them in any way. If they get angry, there�s no saying what they'll do -- rebelliousness may cost you your life.

Try to make contact with the outside world
Look out for all possible means to signal your location to anyone outside. Use whatever resources are at your disposal -- alarms, mobile phones, video sets. If you don't have access to any technology, throw a sheet of paper or a piece of outside your room. In this case, so many people were trapped inside the rooms, not giving us any signal as to where they were, or where the terrorists were. Just a small sign from one of them could have made our jobs so much easier.

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Acquaint yourself with the security measures

Acquaint yourself with the security measures wherever you go, so you know the quickest way of communicating with the personnel should the need arise. In this situation, each room was equipped with functioning intercoms, which none of the guests used. I'm at a loss as to the reasoning behind this. They could have called the main desk or other rooms, but nobody did.

Follow instructions quickly and efficiently
If you're aware that a risky operation is underway, be calm and patient. Wait for the armed forces to reach you and then follow their instructions quickly and efficiently. When we were searching the rooms of the Oberoi Hotel, we were trying to search as silently as we could. The master key wasn't working on all the rooms, so we were creeping along, whispering outside each door, telling the occupants to open up and let the commandos in. But some people were too scared to listen. In fact, we spent 30 minutes outside one door, pleading with the occupant inside to open up. Finally, we had to use exlosives to gain entry. We found him, a Chinese man, shot in the leg, about to pass out from loss of blood. If he had answered us, at least we would have known it was an injured person inside and not the terrorists. And had he opened up sooner, we could have helped him sooner and not wasted so much time knocking and whispering outside.

Don't become hysterical and over-excited

Fight off panic -- don't become hysterical and over-excited. If you are over-excited, you will end up hampering the rescue operation as well as your own safety. Get a grip on yourself and draw as little attention to yourself as possible. If you're not very noticeable, you may be in a better position to do something positive, like signal to someone outside, or even escape.

View most people with suspicion
A more general piece of advice is to view most people with suspicion. This is something we are taught in the army. We don't trust anyone, unless their identities are known to us. If you're at any social gathering or event, watch out for any suspicious behaviour around you and alert local authorities at once if you notice something.

Be our eyes and ears
In case of any suspicions, report to the police immediately. Most citizens consider this a headache, but you have no idea just how much a civilian report helps us. As part of the general public, you have access to all the nooks and crannies of the city. Make sure that your report is timely and accurate -- you'll be surprised at what violence it can prevent. Please be our eyes and ears.

Don't create or fuel rumours

Report what you know, or what you have seen -- dont base your report on speculation. That only creates panic and might even assist the enemy, who will definitely take advantage of the confusion. Another drawback of false reporting is that if there are too many hoaxes, the police often start taking things lightly and develop a disbelieving attitude.

In case of an emergency, know where to go
Make a note of the closest security officer in your area and the closest police post. In case of an emergency, you should know where to go and the fastest way to get help.

Protect yourself
Last of all, learn a form of self-defense. You don't need to be a black belt -- even a few tricks can get you out of a pickle, and may save your life in case of an emergency.