We all remember the tragic incident that occurred at Hotel Taj in Mumbai in November 2008. There were many brave hearts that fought head on with the terrorists and ensured the safety of their fellow citizens. One commando who risked his own life to save other people’s lives was Praveen Teotia. He took four bullets in the lung and ear leading him to lose partial hearing.


After the incident, Praveen Teotia, a 32-year-old Shaurya Chakra winner and former Marine Commando from Bhatola village in Bulandshahr was demoted to the rank of a petty officer. It was a non-active job but Teotia set about trying to prove that he was still fit for service, and began participating in marathons. His ultimate victory was when on 9th September he participated in the 72km-long Khardung La marathon in Ladakh, and finished well within the stipulated time, earning a medal. 


Marathon runner, Pervin Batliwala who encouraged Teotia to start training for long-distance runs told Times of India:

I have met very few with such willpower. Finishing Khardung La is no child’s play. 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.

Teotia recounts his own journey of recovering from the accident and how he was sure that he could not be a commando again. He tells Times of India:

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.

Despite that, he did not want a desk job as was given by the Navy according to Navy Order 9/11, which states 5% of battlefield casualties can continue in service. However, Teotia did not want to confine himself to a desk job and applied for a Navy mountaineering expedition, but was rejected on medical grounds. He decided to prove that he was fit enough and that’s when he met Pervin Batliwala who served as his inspiration.

Teotia has been running marathons for 2 years now as he began training in 2014. However, Teotia 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 that went well, in 2016 he participated in the Indian Navy Half Marathon. Recently in March, he went a step further and nailed a triathlon in Jaipur called the Half Iron Man Triathlon. It included 1.9km swimming, 90km bicycling and a 21km run!


Unfortunately for him, the Navy was still not convinced of his abilities and thus he resorted to taking voluntary retirement on July 31.

The Navy was still not convinced 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.

He finished the Khardung La Challenge in 12.5 hours running at altitudes higher than 18,380 ft. The window was of 14 hours and thus Teotia was felicitated with a medal. With no plans to stop anytime soon, he now plans to participate in a full Iron Man Triathlon.

It is truly amazing to see Mr. Teotia’s grit and determination, given how difficult these marathons are for him. He is a hero in the true sense of the term, people our country is in dire need of.