INDIA: 26/11 Mumbai Attack is one of the most gruesome terrorist attacks that leave its imprint as a “dark day” in Indian history, marks its 14-year anniversary today (November 26).
On November 26, 2008, Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) entered India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and carried out bombings and shootings at iconic locations across the city, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Oberoi Trident, and Taj Palace and Tower, among others.
The heinous attack that struck Mumbai for four consecutive days claimed the lives of 166 innocent people, including foreigners and security personnel; nine terrorists connected to Pakistan’s LeT were shot dead, and the tenth, Ajmal Kasab, who was the only terrorist captured alive, was convicted and sentenced to death. Later, on November 21, 2012, Kasab was hanged to death.
Here’s a brief timeline of events that shook the core of Mumbai
November 26, 2008: 10 young men entered Mumbai via speed boats; they were later identified as LeT members and found out that they were “controlled” by Pakistan. After arriving, they spread out swiftly: two went to the Trident, two to the Taj, and four went to Nariman House.
While the other two, Kasab and another terrorist, Ismail Khan, stormed CSMT, they began shooting indiscriminately, creating chaos and fatalities.
These two then make their way to Cama Hospital, where they ambush and kill six police officers en route, including Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, and the chief of the anti-terror team, Hemant Karkare.
The terrorists then hijacked the jeep and tried to escape but were intercepted by a team of police from Gamdevi police station near Girgaon Chowpatty. Khan lost his life in the firefight, while Kasab was captured. Another police officer, Tukaram Ombale, sacrificed his life in the line of duty.
On this day, images of smoke billowing from the Taj hotel terrified the city and remained seared into the memories of Indians across the nation and the inhabitants of Mumbai.
Two of the terrorists, Abdul Rehman Bada and Abu Ali, planted a crude RDX bomb in front of a police station before proceeding to the front door. They wielded AK-47s, ammo, and grenades and marched into the lobby area, open firing randomly.
Two extra terrorists, Shoaib and Umer, enter the hotel through a different door and start shooting at people by the pool. Four tourists were shot and murdered, along with security guard Ravindra Kumar and his Labrador retriever dog.
By midnight, Mumbai police encircle the hotel as guests huddle up, seeking safety in its confined spaces. At around one a.m., the hotel’s central dome was bombed, and smoke can be seen rising from the iconic building.
November 27, 2008: Army troops and Marine commandos surrounded the hostage locations—the Taj, Trident, and Nariman House in Mumbai. The news of a fresh gun battle was echoing, and terrorists set fire to a room on the fourth floor of the hotel.
Meanwhile, the government ordered to storm off the captive sites, and evacuation of sites took place in batches in the following hours.
November 28, 2008: The commandos completed their operations at the Trident and Nariman House in Mumbai.
November 29, 2008: In Operation Tornado, the NSG secured the Taj hotel and flushed the remaining terrorists out, putting an end to the attack.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was mortally shot while attempting to save commando Sunil Yadav, and Sergeant Gajendra Singh Bisht was martyred in the Nariman House raid after a drawn-out fire battle.
Bravehearts who sacrificed their lives
India’s heroes who sacrificed their lives for the country will never be forgotten.
Droupadi Murmu, the president, tweeted a post on Saturday paying homage to the martyrs of the 2008 terrorist attacks.
Bhagat Singh Koshyari, the governor of Maharashtra, and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde paid floral homage to the martyrs.
Additionally, tributes were paid to the martyrs by the families of the cops who died during the attacks in November 2008.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) leader, Hemant Karkare, facilitated from the front lines until the terrorists Kasab and Ismail began firing in front of the Cama Hospital. In 2009, he received the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest distinction for valour in preserving world peace.
An Encounter specialist named Vijay Salaskar was another valiant warrior who lost his life in the terrorist attack. Senior police officer Ashok Kamte, along with Karkare and Salaskar, perished in front of the Cama Hospital, according to Kasab’s confession.
Tukaram Omble, the Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI), was shot more than 40 times and still managed to capture Ajmal Kasab alive and confront his terrible act, despite suffering severe wounds.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, unit commander of 51 Special Action Group, attempted to save his fellow commandos and hotel guests before being fatally shot during Operation Black Tornado.
Karambir Singh Kang
The general manager of the Taj Hotel, Karambir Singh Kang, oversaw the guests’ evacuation after losing his own family, who were stranded on the sixth level.
Moshe Holtzberg, 2, was protected by Samuel from the terrorists who destroyed the Nariman House and killed many people, including his parents. “Baby Moshe” is the youngest survivor of the attack.
Mallika Jagad, a hotel employee, directed roughly 60 guests to safety.
Four bomb-detecting dogs from the Mumbai Police’s Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad, named Sultan, Tiger, Max, and Ceaser, saved countless lives by using their noses to locate RDX, IEDs, and other explosives.
Perpetrators of 26/11 must be brought to justice
S. Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister of India, has stated that those who plotted and oversaw the 26 Mumbai terrorist attacks must be brought to justice as “terrorism threatens humanity.”
The CM of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, also expressed his sympathy to the relatives of the deceased.
Speaking at the “26/11 Mumbai Sankalp” event at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel on Friday, Maharashtra’s Deputy CM, Devendra Fadnavis, said the surveillance system has been strengthened with AI and face recognition cameras.
He resembles the 26/11 terror attack as “a wound that can never be healed.”
Meanwhile, India claims that prior efforts to penalise the perpetrators and organisers of the 26/11 attack had failed due to “political reasons,” allowing them to plan other cross-border operations against the country. This looks to be a reference to China’s repeated efforts to frustrate New Delhi’s efforts to get Pakistan-based terrorists banned at the UN.
Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said that organisations that are linked with and inspired by ISIS and al-Qaeda continue to operate and threaten people and security personnel, notably in Asia and Africa. She called it a “grave threat” to global security and peace.
In mourning for the 166 people who perished in the Mumbai terrorist attacks on November 26, 2008, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) has joined the Indian government.