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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Remembering our Heroes - sad day when Nation was under siege 26/11

We see them in every street corner, at busy traffic intersections, some movies come ridiculing their efforts,   RED SALUTE  to them – the Army and Police are the real protectors and WE live happily and peacefully because of their sacrifices. This is the photo of Tukaram Omble, who died this day 14 years ago ! – must have been part of our history and school curriculum .. .. were you able to recognize him ? 

From every angle, the Taj Palace near the Gate way of India, the imposing arch monument on the Arabic sea erected  to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder on their visit to India in 1911, prior to Delhi Durbar. The hotel preceded it – the Queen could have seen the hotel, but not the monument.                                

                                             The historic Taj Mahal Palace hotel first opened its doors to guests 113 years ago, on December 16, 1903. Located in Colaba, Mumbai, the Taj Mahal hotel, or the Taj Palace hotel, was the country's first ever harbour landmark. Over the last century or so, the hotel has played host to royalty, several dignitaries, and eminent personalities from all over the world. A popular theory states that Jamshedji Tata built the hotel because he was refused entry at Watson Hotel, one of the grandest hotels of that time, which was for 'whites only.  

In the beautiful motherland, there have been debates on surgical strikes with politicians calling for proof !! -  Nation can never forget this day  26/11 when it was  under siege by militants from across the border.  How many felt sorrowed and spoke for those martyrs of Police and jawans of the motherland ??  .. .. and blatant media who were for ratings showing all the plan and movement of Army jawans !! – how mindless it was.

The horrific memories of the night when the terrorists hijacked the police vehicle  and killed top cops and then went on shooting innocents haunts people.  The illustrious   Bhaskar Kadam, Hemant Bawdhankar, Sanjay Govilkar, Tukaram Omble,  Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte ,  Vijay Salaskar, Shashank Shinde, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Hawaldar Gajendra Singh – and the like should be the heroes whom the Nation must be reading and knowing.  There were so many unsung heroes too – for example the Fire Service of Mumbai whose personnel did not flinch once as they grabbed their gear and rushed to douse fire amid an intense gun battle.   

On that unfortunate day in 2008, 10 Pakistani terrorists arrived by sea route and opened fire indiscriminately at people killing 166, including 18 security personnel, and injuring several others, besides damaging property worth crores.  The attack began on 26 November and lasted until 29 November. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, the Nariman House Jewish community centre were some of the places targeted by the terrorists. Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist captured alive. He was hanged four years later on November 21, 2012.  

Tributes poured in on the 14th  anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeting 'Terrorism threatens humanity' while remembering the victims of the 26/11 attacks. "Those who planned and oversaw this attack must be brought to justice. We owe this to every victim of terrorism around the world," EAM Jaishankar said, sharing a short video from the deadly attack that left 166 people dead and more than 300 people injured.  

On Friday, India told the UN that its efforts to sanction those involved in the 26/11 terror attacks have been blocked in the past for political reasons, enabling them to walk free and organise further cross-border assaults against the country. India's remark came after China's repeated efforts to block the proposal by India and the US to blacklist Pakistan-based militant and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed’s son, Hafiz Talah Saeed and designate him as a “global terrorist”. Hafiz Saeed is the mastermind behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.  

Sadly after the gruesome attack which had clear evidence to the involvement of neighbours, there was no reprisal.  It is now reported that on December 2, 2008, India's military, political and intelligence leadership went into a huddle in the Prime Minister's Office in South Block. The agenda at hand was weighty. The dozen or so men in a room deliberated options that had the potential of triggering a possible fifth India-Pakistan war. It was just a week since 10 Pakistani terrorists had targeted Mumbai and killed 165 people. The incident had provoked national outrage and there was tremendous public pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to retaliate.

Almost all the options discussed by the heads of the military, spy chiefs revolved around punishing the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which had masterminded the attack. The range of options included special forces missions, covert attacks, strikes by the air force on terrorist training camps and even an option of a limited war. Indian investigators had traced the Pakistani hand in both the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and the July 2006 suburban train bombings. These attacks had killed more people-257 and 187 respectively. But 26/11 was different. It was the first attack carried out by Pakistani nationals who hit civilian targets and foreign nationals with calculated brutality. Unlike the December 2001 attack on India's parliament where all five terrorists were gunned down, one of the Mumbai attackers, captured alive less than six hours after the attack began, had revealed the full extent of the conspiracy.  

It was only meetings and perhaps no action .. then there was another meeting   of India's security establishment which  was more focused on the military option against Pakistan. By now, the Manmohan Singh government had clearly ruled out either an Operation Parakram-style mobilisation of the Indian military or the Cold Start option that replaced it. Options now almost exclusively focused on punitive strikes against the LeT, which had carried out the attack. Exactly a week after the attack, Indian intelligence agencies had built up a comprehensive picture of the LeT's complicity in the attack-confessions from the sole terrorist arrested, Ajmal Kasab, and several hours of conversations intercepted between the LeT handler in a Karachi control room and the Mumbai attackers.  

They perpetrators of heinous crime against our Nation  are still at large enjoying the hospitality and benefits of Pakistan !!  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Nov. 2022

PS:   Ajmal Kasab, the face of Mumbai terror is no more; he had been given a name ‘Sameer Chaudhury’ with red thread around his visit; their heinous plan would have succeeded if all terrorists had been killed but destiny was otherwise, exeuctued by  martyr Tukaram Omble .. . if not some organization would have fought for his release and some would have invoked human rights !!!


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