Disabled after 26/11, Teotia was reassigned to the rank of petty officer. He applied for a Navy mountaineering expedition. But was rejected on medical grounds. Teotia decided to prove he was fit enough and with the help of marathon runner Pervin Batliwala, he started training for long-distance runs.
Praveen Teotia took four bullets during the anti-terror op at Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai in 200.
Praveen Teotia, 32-year-old Shaurya Chakra winner and former Marine commando took four bullets during the operation to neutralize terrorists at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai in November 2008. Hit in the lung and in an ear, he became partially hearing impaired. After being given a non-active duty job by the Navy, Teotia set about trying to prove that he was still fit for service, and began participating in marathons. On September 9, despite a damaged lung, he participated in the gruelling 72km-long Khardung La marathon in Ladakh, and finished well within the stipulated time, earning a medal.
“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,” said Teotia, from Bhatola village in Bulandshahr.
Since according to Navy Order 9/11, 5% of battlefield casualties can continue in service, Teotia was reassigned to the rank of petty officer. Aware that he couldn’t be a commando again, but not wanting a desk job, he applied for a Navy mountaineering expedition, but was rejected on medical grounds. Teotia decided to prove that he was fit enough. Through supportive Taj hotel staff, he met marathon runner Pervin Batliwala, who encouraged him to start training for long-distance runs.
“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,” said Batliwala.
In 2014, Teotia began marathon training. In 2015, he ran the Mumbai Half Marathonunder a different name because he was not sure how the Navy would react if he had failed. In 2016, he ran in the Indian Navy Half Marathon. In March this year, he participated in the Half Iron Man Triathlon in Jaipur, which involves a 1.9km swim, 90km bicycling and a 21km run.
“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,” said Teotia.
On July 31, he took voluntary retirement. On Saturday, he finished the Khardung La Challenge, running at altitudes higher than 18,380 ft, finishing it in 12.5 hours, well within the stipulated time of 14 hours, earning a medal. He now plans to participate in a full Iron Man Triathlon, and is looking for ways to fund it.