The attacks of 26/11
The attacks of 26/11
26th november is the same date that has haunted every single soul living today in Mumbai and all over India. Never in the history was a terrorist attack severe than 9/11 but on 26/11/2008 it all changed. The world came to realize the word “Terrorism” with much more than its literal meaning. The day still haunts our memories and left a scar on the lifeline of india, the city of dreams, the economic capital and the ever beautiful Mumbai.
It all began roughly at the noon od the D-Day 26/11/2008. Ten armed mens with a head exchanged the boats with the Indian fishermans who happened to unknowingly enter Pakistani water for the hunt of the Lal Paari fish. The terrorist boarded the boat and reached the shores of Mumbai at 7. Afisher man saw them with suspicious eyes and even complained to the nearest police station but was ignored.
At 21.30 firing began at the coveted and worshipped Chhtrapati Shivaji Terminus. (CST) The charge was on two gunmen one of which was Ajmal Kasab who was later captured and identified by eye witnesses. The terrorists open fired at the crowd at CST using AK-47 rifles. The attackers killed 58 people and injured 104. The firing terminated at 21.45 but in those fifteen minutes they had ruined a thousand of lives. Security forces and emergency services arrived shortly afterwards. Continuous announcements by a brave railway announcer, Vishnu Dattaram Zende, alerted passengers to leave the station and saved scores of lives. The two gunmen fled the scene and fired at pedestrians and police officers in the streets, killing eight police officers.
The attacker then fled to Cama Hospital to injure the patients brought in by the scene. The devil can think the downright thing without even wasting a second to ask his soul for permission to committ something henious. but the hospital staff locked all of the patient wards. A team of the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad led by police chief Hemant Karkare searched the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and then left in pursuit of Kasab and Khan. Kasab and Khan opened fire on the vehicle in a lane next to the hospital and the police returned fire. Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte and one of their officers were killed, though the only survivor, Constable Arun Jadhav, was wounded. Kasab and Khan seized the police vehicle but later abandoned it and seized a passenger car instead. They then ran into a police roadblock, which had been set up after Jadhav radioed for help. A gun battle then ensued in which Khan was killed and Kasab was wounded. After a physical struggle, Kasab was arrested. A police officer, Tukaram Omble was also killed when he ran in front of Kasab to shoot him.
The Leopold Cafe, a popular restaurant and bar on Colaba Causeway in South Mumbai, was one of the first sites to be attacked. Two attackers opened fire on the cafe on the evening of 26 November, killing at least 10 people, (including some foreigners), and injuring many more.
The attackers had yet not succommed. But the next target was the pride of the nation, The Taj Mahal Hotel. Guest always felt it as a privilage to attend even a day at Taj but for the guests and staffs that day it was just a horrific nighmare. Being at Taj and being in a Nazi concentration camp was same for those who could here the wails of people and the haunts of the bullets.
Two hotels, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi Trident, were among the four locations targeted. Six explosions were reported at the Taj hotel – one in the lobby, two in the elevators, three in the restaurant – and one at the Oberoi Trident. At the Taj Mahal, firefighters rescued 200 hostages from windows using ladders during the first night.
During the attacks, both hotels were surrounded by Rapid Action Force personnel and Marine Commandos (MARCOS) and National Security Guards (NSG) commandos. When reports emerged that attackers were receiving television broadcasts, feeds to the hotels were blocked. Security forces stormed both hotels, and all nine attackers were killed by the morning of 29 November. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan of the NSG was killed during the rescue of Commando Sunil Yadav, who was hit in the leg by a bullet during the rescue operations at Taj. 32 hostages were killed at the Oberoi Trident.
NSG commandos then took on the Nariman house, and a Naval helicopter took an aerial survey. During the first day, 9 hostages were rescued from the first floor. The following day, the house was stormed by NSG commandos fast-roping from helicopters onto the roof, covered by snipers positioned in nearby buildings. NSG Commando Havaldar Gajender Singh Bisht, who was part of the team that fast-roped onto Nariman House, died after a long battle in which both perpetrators were also killed. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka Holtzberg, who was six months pregnant, were murdered with four other hostages inside the house by the attackers. By the morning of 27 November, the NSG had secured the Jewish outreach center at Nariman House as well as the Oberoi Trident hotel. They also incorrectly believed that the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers had been cleared of attackers, and soldiers were leading hostages and holed-up guests to safety, and removing bodies of those killed in the attacks. However, later news reports indicated that there were still two or three attackers in the Taj, with explosions heard and gunfire exchanged. Fires were also reported at the ground floor of the Taj with plumes of smoke arising from the first floor. The final operation at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel was completed by the NSG commandos at 08:00 on 29 November, killing three attackers and resulting in the conclusion of the attacks. The NSG rescued 250 people from the Oberoi, 300 from the Taj and 60 people (members of 12 different families) from Nariman House. In addition, police seized a boat filled with arms and explosives anchored at Mazgaon dock off Mumbai harbour.
Only one of the 10 attackers, Ajmal Kasab, survived the attack. He was hanged in Yerwada jail in 2012. Killed during the onslaught were:
- Abdul Rehman Bada
- Abdul Rahman Chhota
- Abu Ali
- Fahad Ullah
- Ismail Khan
- Babar Imran
- Abu Umar
- Abu Sohrab
- Shoaib alias Soheb
Even after 7 years, the day is mourned till now. The scars still hurt. Mumbai is back to its place but the hurt and hatred for terrorism can’t be suppressed.
Lashkar-e-Taiba, Taliban, Al-Queda are all names that not haunt but are hated across the globe. For once the time will come than these names will never be any thing more than some organisations mentioned only in books and histories...
Jai Hind. Vande Mataram.