New Delhi: No one will forget the tragic incident that took place at The Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai on 26th November, 2008. Braveheart Indian commandos took the terrorists head on to bring an end to one of the most heinous acts of terrorism on Indian soil.
One of those commandos who risked their lives to save the civilians was Praveen Teotia. He took four bullets in his lung and ear, which resulted in partial hearing loss for the rest of his life.
After the incident, Teotia, a 32-year-old Shaurya Chakra winner and former Marine Commando from Bulandshahr was demoted to the rank of a junior officer. But he didn’t let this affect him and embarked on a journey to prove his fitness by participating in marathons to keep up with his fitness.
His hard work saw him participate in the 72 km-long Khardung La marathon on September 9 in Ladakh, in which he finished well within the stipulated time, earning a medal for himself.
Marathon runner Pervin Batliwala, who pushed Teotia to start training for long-distance runs, spoke to The Times of India. “I have met very few with such willpower. Finishing Khardung La is no child’s play,” Batliwala said. “I did it last year. The oxygen levels are low and it is doubly difficult for someone with a damaged lung. To do so well is a stupendous achievement.”
Speaking to TOI, Teotia recalled his journey of recovering from the accident and how he was sure that he could not be the same commando again.
“After I was shot, doctors had given up on me. But I hung on for five months in the hospital and recovered, although my hearing was impaired”, he said.
Teotia has been running marathons for two years now after he started training in 2014. However, he wasn’t confident enough initially and ran the Mumbai Half Marathon in 2015 under a different name because he was not sure how the Navy would react if he had failed. Since he did well in the Mumbai event, he also participated in the Indian Navy Half Marathon in 2016.
Recently in March, he went a step further and ran a triathlon in Jaipur, called the Half Ironman Triathlon. It included 1.9 km swimming, 90 km bicycling and a 21 km run.
However, he had to take voluntary retirement on July 31.
“The Navy was still not convinced that I was fit enough, and I could not take many leaves for marathons. So I took voluntary retirement. I bear them no ill-will. They work according to the book and I was in a junior rank. But I wanted everyone to know I was the same man who went into the Taj hotel a commando. I had the right not to be forgotten,” Teotia added.
He finished the Khardung La Challenge in 12.5 hours running at altitudes higher than 18,380 feet. The window was of 14 hours and thus Teotia was felicitated with a medal.