Fifteen years ago, India faced its greatest security challege since the 1999 Kargil war on November 26, 2008. Nine Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists from Pakistan were neutralised in the encounter while the 10th man, Ajmal Kasab, was caught alive and later hanged on November 21, 2012, after his conviction.
The attacks on Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Oberoi Trident, Taj Hotel and Nariman House claimed lives of 166 people including security personnel. Let's remember our fallen heroes on the 15th anniversary of the gruesome attacks.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan
Born in Kerala's Kozhikode on March 15, 1977, Major Sandeep Unnikrishan joined 51 SAG NSG on January 20, 2007. During the 26/11 attacks, he led his team to rescue hostages trapped in Mumbai's Taj Hotel, where 80 hostages were killed and 240 were injured.
Around 8.30pm on the fateful night, Major Sandeep's squad located hostages after hearing their cries as the terrorists fired indiscriminately. His team positioned themselves outside the doors of rooms where the hostages were located. One of is squad-mates got critically injured and Major Sandeep, disregarding his own safety, rescued the injured soldier. Though a bullet struck his right arm, Major Sandeep stormed inside all alone to free the hostages. He was able to inflict injuries on the terrorists but got seriously in injured and martyred. His squad did not lose heart and they neutralised the cornered terrorists.
Major Sandeep was honoured with Ashok Chakra posthumously.
Tukaram Omble, a Mumbai Police Assistant Sub-Inspector who was killed during the 26/11 attacks, was unarmed while he tried to capture terroist Ajmal Kasab on the fateful night in Mumbai's Girgaum Chowpatty. Despite being unarmed, Omble held on to Kasab's rifle and restrained him to ensure that the terrorist was nabbed alive. In the scuffle, Omble got shot fatally after Kasab fired several rounds at him.
Scientists honoured Omble in 2021 by naming a newly discovered spider species, ‘Icius Tukarami', after him. He was honoured with Ashok Chakra.
Hemant Karkare, who was the former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief, was martyred outside south Mumbai's Cama Hospital, a 10-minute drive from CST station, during the attack. He served in RAW and later at the Indian mission in Austria. He was the Mumbai Joint Commissioner (Administration) before he was appointed as the ATS chief. Karkare along with senior police officials Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar were killed when terrorists Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail opened fire at their Toyota Qualis. Karkare was seated in the second row with some constables when the shootout happened.
Ashok Kamte who was the Mumbai Additional Commissioner of Police (Eastern) was the son of Lieutenant Colonel Marutirao Narayanarao Kamte. Being an ex-Army officer, he was known for acting fearlessly against criminals despite pressure from top police officials and politicians. Kamte was sitting in the front row of the police SUV when he was martyred. He was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously.
Vijay Salaskar, an encounter specialist, was credited with killing up to 80 criminals during his career. Salaskar, who headed the Mumbai Anti-Extortion Cell before his martyrdom, was killed by Ajmal Kasab in the 26/11 attack. He was driving the Qualis and was accompanied by Karkare and Kamte when he was martyred along with them. Salaskar was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously.
Havildar Gajendra Singh Bisht
Havildar Gajendra Singh Bisht, an NSG commando with the 51 Special Action Group, who was martyred during the 2008 attacks, was honoured with the Ashoka Chakra. He was killed by terrorists at the Nariman House building.