Home India 15 years of 26/11: The Gripping Story of the Terror Attacks

15 years of 26/11: The Gripping Story of the Terror Attacks

15 years of 26/11: 26/11 is remembered as a dark day in Indian history, commemorating the series of terrorist attacks that unfolded in Mumbai in November 2008. This Sunday will mark the 14th anniversary of the four-day-long onslaught, during which 12 coordinated shootings and bombings occurred in iconic locations across the city, including Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Oberoi Trident, and Taj Palace and Tower, among others.

On November 29, 2008, the concluding day of the attacks, the National Security Guards (NSG) carried out Operation Tornado to eliminate terrorists from the Taj Hotel. The assault resulted in the tragic loss of 166 lives, comprising both foreign nationals and security personnel. Nine terrorists associated with Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were fatally shot during the operation, while the tenth, identified as Kasab, was apprehended. Kasab was subsequently convicted, sentenced to death, and ultimately executed on November 21, 2012.

Here’s a timeline of the 26/11 that took place on the fateful day:

November 26, 2008: Ten individuals, allegedly under the influence of controllers in Pakistan, arrive in Mumbai from Karachi via speedboats. Swiftly dispersing, two of the assailants infiltrate the Trident, another two head towards the Taj, and four target Nariman House.

Kasab, accompanied by another terrorist named Ismail Khan, launches an attack on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), initiating indiscriminate gunfire that instigates chaos and results in casualties. Subsequently, the assailants proceed to Cama Hospital, where they carry out an ambush, resulting in the tragic deaths of six police officers, including notable figures such as Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, and the then-head of the anti-terror squad, Hemant Karkare.

Following their attack, Kasab and Ismail Khan hijack a jeep in an attempt to escape. However, their getaway is thwarted by the police. Kasab is apprehended, but Khan meets his demise in the ensuing firefight. Unfortunately, another police official loses their life in the confrontation.

On this day, the haunting images of smoke engulfing the Taj Hotel instilled terror in the city, leaving an indelible mark on the memories of Mumbai residents and people across India.

Two of the four terrorists, Abdul Rehman Bada and Abu Ali, reach the main entrance after strategically placing a rudimentary RDX bomb in front of a police post. Armed with AK-47s, ammunition, and grenades, they initiate indiscriminate firing while progressing towards the lobby area.

Shoaib and Umer, two additional terrorists, gain entry to the hotel through a separate entrance and commence firing upon guests in the poolside area. This results in the tragic deaths of four foreign individuals, as well as a security guard named Ravindra Kumar and his canine companion.

As midnight approaches, Mumbai Police encircle the hotel while terrified guests seek refuge in confined spaces, desperately attempting to preserve their lives. At approximately 1 am, a bomb is detonated at the central dome of the hotel, resulting in billowing plumes of smoke emerging from the structure.

November 27, 2008: the subsequent day, army soldiers and marine commandos encircle the Taj, Trident, and Nariman House. Reports emerge of renewed gunfire, simultaneous with terrorists igniting a room on the fourth floor of the hotel.

November 28, 2008: Commandos successfully conclude their operations at the Trident and Nariman House.

November 29, 2008: the National Security Guards (NSG) are summoned, and they eliminate the remaining terrorists at the Taj Hotel through Operation Tornado. The attackers within the hotel are fatally neutralized during this operation. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan sustains gunshot wounds while rescuing commando Sunil Yadav, and Sergeant Gajendra Singh Bisht loses his life in the extended gunfight during the Nariman House operation.

Remembering the courageous individuals of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, an NSG commando, exemplified the Indian Army’s motto of “service before self” during the confrontation with terrorists within the Taj Hotel. Leading a team of 10 commandos, he successfully initiated a firefight with the assailants. Likely among Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s final words to his team were, “Do not come up, I will handle them,” uttered before he succumbed to gunshots while actively engaging the terrorists inside the hotel.

The government honored Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s valor by conferring upon him the Ashoka Chakra.

Tukaram Omble

Tukaram Omble, an assistant sub-inspector serving in the Mumbai police, played a pivotal role in the apprehension of Ajmal Kasab.

On November 26, Tukaram Omble and his team were stationed at a checkpoint when two terrorists approached in a hijacked car. Following an initial exchange of gunfire, one of the terrorists perished inside the vehicle, while the other, Ajmal Kasab, exited the car and feigned surrender by lying down. Unarmed, Omble cautiously approached Kasab, who suddenly rose and attempted to open fire. Omble positioned himself in front of Kasab, grasping the barrel of his rifle, effectively preventing the bullets from harming anyone else but him. While the rest of the team subdued and captured Kasab, Omble, having absorbed over 40 bullets from an AK-47 at point-blank range, did not survive this heroic act.

In recognition of his extraordinary bravery, the government posthumously bestowed upon him the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award.

Hemant Karkare

The Chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad sustained three gunshot wounds to his chest while engaging terrorists outside Cama Hospital in south Mumbai.

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Rebeiro was quoted later, expressing, “Karkare was among the finest police officers in Maharashtra, and I dare say, in India.”

Ashok Kamte

Ashok Kamte, serving as the Additional Commissioner of the Mumbai Police overseeing the Eastern region, met his demise in the course of the terror attacks. Despite his jurisdiction in the East zone not being directly targeted, he willingly extended his assistance during the attacks.

He also lost his life while engaging terrorists in the narrow lane between St. Xavier’s College and Rang Bhavan in south Mumbai.

Vijay Salaskar

Vijay Salaskar, an encounter specialist leading the Anti-Extortion Cell, sacrificed his life in the line of duty during the Mumbai attacks. In subsequent interrogation, the captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab confessed to the killing of Salaskar.

The government posthumously honored him with the Ashoka Chakra on January 26, 2009, in recognition of his bravery.

Hawaldar Gajendra Singh

Hawaldar Gajendra Singh was part of the NSG commando unit that descended by abseiling onto the roof of Nariman House, where terrorists were holding a minimum of six hostages. The team faced gunfire from the terrorists at the hostage location, with the attackers even throwing grenades at the commandos. It was his ultimate sacrifice that contributed to the NSG team securing a strategically advantageous position in the encounter.

Israel’s move ahead of the 26/11 anniversary

In anticipation of the 15th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, Israel has officially designated the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba as a “terror organization.”

In making this declaration, the Israeli embassy in New Delhi stated, “To mark the 15th anniversary of the commemoration of the Mumbai terror attacks, the State of Israel has officially designated Lashkar-e-Taiba as a terrorist organization.”

“Even in the absence of a formal request from the Government of India, the State of Israel has diligently fulfilled all requisite procedures, adhered to necessary checks, and met all regulatory standards to officially include Lashkar-e-Taiba in the Israeli list of proscribed terrorist organizations,” stated the announcement.

Israel’s decision coincides with its request for India to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization. Last month, Israel’s ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, asserted that it is time for India to classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, a step taken by several nations.

The US, UK, European Union, Canada, Australia, and Japan are among the countries and groupings that have officially designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.


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