One of India’s most celebrated billionaires and the second richest man in the country is known for his excellent business acumen.
But, what is not known to many is the fact that he escaped death not once, but twice.
The 58-year-old Gautam Adani first survived a kidnapping and some years later, the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks which killed hundreds.
Gautam is the founder and chairman of Adani group and at the moment India’s second richest man, according to Bloomberg Billionaire Index.
Kidnapped as a teenager
With a net worth of $35.2 billion (Rs 2.56 lakh crore), Adani in 1978, as a teenager, moved to Mumbai to work as a diamond sorter for Mahendra Brothers. He worked there for 2-3 years before establishing his own diamond brokerage firm at Zaveri Bazaar, Mumbai.
Not many people know that he dropped out of college and started his career as a diamond trader. After a successful stint as a diamond trader, he moved to Ahmedabad in 1981 to help start a cousin’s firm to trade in poly-vinyl chloride (PVC).
It was only in 1988 that Adani set up a commodities trading venture under Adani Exports which became so successful that it started hitting the headlines of business papers in his home state.
By the mid-1990s, his business successes started attracting attention, including attention of the unwelcome kind. With his wealth soaring and success following him, there were people who became jealous and even greedy.
In 1997, kidnappers purportedly sought to take advantage of Adani’s riches by kidnapping him. He was allegedly held for a ransom of $1.5 million (Rs 10.94 crore).
As per the charge sheet filed by police, on January 1, 1998, Adani and Shantilal Patel were abducted at gunpoint after they left Karnavati Club here in a car and headed for Mohammadpura Road. It was alleged that a scooter forced the car to stop, and then a group of men came in a van and abducted both of them. They were taken to an unknown place in a car before being released, the charge sheet said.
Adani has been shy about speaking publicly about the terrifying incident. When asked about the incident once by London’s Financial Times, Adani only said, “Two or three” very unfortunate incidents happened in my life, that is one of them’. Adani was allegedly abducted by underworld don Fazl-Ur-Rehman alias ‘Fazlu Rehman’.
Surviving 2008 Mumbai terror attack
The 1997 kidnapping was not the only unfortunate incident in Adani’s life. On November 26, 2008, Adani was having dinner at Mumbai’s iconic Taj hotel when it was attacked by Pakistani terrorists. The business tycoon hid in the basement as terrorists killed over 160 people inside the iconic hotel. He was able to escape safely when commandos took control of the situation and engaged with the terrorists.
As per media reports, that night, Adani was having dinner at the Weather Craft restaurant with Dubai Port CEO Mohammed Sharaf when he saw terrorists entering the hotel, firing indiscriminately and throwing grenades. Since he was sitting at a height, he could clearly see the terrorists firing in the direction of the swimming pool passage and lift before running towards the old wing.
Soon after he saw the gunmen, the hotel staff helped the guests, including Adani, in moving to the basement. A couple of hours later when it became too suffocating in the basement, they were then removed to the Taj chamber hall on an upper floor.
Death at a distance of 15 feet
Adani was quoted in an old news report saying, “We were over 100 and everybody was praying for his life. Some had hidden below the sofa while others had taken similar evasive position. Sitting on a Sofa, I was telling them to have faith in God. Simultaneously I was also talking to my distressed family in Ahmedabad and my driver and commando who was in my car outside the hotel”.
Adani spent the entire November 26 night (Wednesday) in the basement of the Taj Hotel and then in a hall before being rescued by the security personal at 8:45 am on Thursday morning. He was taken out through the back door of the hotel and then moved in a police van. After landing at the Ahmedabad airport from his private aircraft on November 27, Adani had said, “I saw death at a distance of just 15 feet”.