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"Chabad.org" featured Pace University's Lubin School of Business Professor Meylekh (P.V.) Viswanath in "Tragedy and Resolve: 10 Years After Mumbai Terror"

11/08/2018

"Chabad.org" featured Pace University's Lubin School of Business Professor Meylekh (P.V.) Viswanath in "Tragedy and Resolve: 10 Years After Mumbai Terror"

...It was early evening when Meylekh (P.V.) Viswanath, a professor of finance at Pace University in New York, got a call from his nephew, who was connected to his local Chabad at Princeton University, telling him that Lubavitch Headquarters was searching for someone who could speak Indian languages. Viswanath, an observant Jew who lives in New Jersey, was born in India and had grown up there. After a conversation with those at headquarters, who asked him if he’d be able to translate from non-Anglo Indian media sources, Viswanath, who had previously met the Holtzbergs on his yearly visits to Mumbai, got into his car and drove to 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn.

“I knew I wasn’t going for 15 minutes, but I had no idea that I would be spending the whole night there,” he says. “Nobody understood that yet.”

As time passed, it became clear that the Chabad House had not only been caught in the crossfire, but actually targeted, and the people inside were in deep trouble. Indian police evacuated the buildings adjacent to Nariman House, and Indian media set up nearby. In the United States, CNN was playing a feed from its sister station in India, IBN. Seligson called an acquaintance at CNN in Atlanta who put him in touch with IBN’s anchor on the ground, Raksha Shetty, who would serve as a valuable source of local intelligence amid the confusing barrage of real and false information.

That evening, Rabbi Levi Shemtov of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) in Washington, D.C., dialed Gabi’s cell phone yet again, when someone picked up at the other end. It was a male; he spoke no English. “Urdu, Urdu,” insisted the voice.

Viswanath, who speaks numerous languages, including Hindi—in many ways the same as Urdu—was by this time in Brooklyn, and a telephone connection was re-established at midnight Eastern Standard Time. The terrorist on the line told Viswanath that his name was Imran. “At one point, we asked him if all the people there were conscious, because we had heard reports that some of them were unconscious,” Viswanath wrote in the Forward a week later. “Imran told us that everybody was fine: Nobody was hurt and they had not touched anybody. 

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