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Sunday, November 26, 2023

26/11 Nation remembers horror, pain - the sacrifices !!

How much of respect do you give to a Police Constable – mostly unarmed, carries a woodenstick (lathi) and tries law enforcement !!  - heart would bleed for Tukaram Omble !


On the night of 26 November 2008, ten Kalashnikov-wielding terrorists attacked Mumbai. They stuck simultaneously at five locations, shooting dead 140 Indians and 25 foreign tourists. American and British passport-holders were executed in two luxury hotel complexes. At a Jewish cultural centre, Israeli nationals were tortured before being killed. A fourth location, a café frequented by Western backpackers, was enfiladed with automatic fire.  At the ever crowded  city’s main railway station, the site of the largest number of deaths,  all the victims were Indian.   

Treacherous cowardly terrorists waging war with the Nation killing innocents.  In the history of terrorism, the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks were as innovative as the 9/11 attacks on the US. While passenger airplanes were used for the first time as weapons of destruction during 9/11, the Mumbai attacks saw an unprecedented feature of live operational control of terrorist acts from foreign soil. 

.. .. and how shameful was the response of Indian press and to a large extent the then Government – there were live shows depicting the operations of the Commandos providing live data feed to terror handlers elsewhere !  they utilized  India’s  free electronic media for further killing and live feedback. Competitive Indian visual media covering the Mumbai attacks beamed minute-to-minute details to the domestic audience which served as a barometer of the damage inflicted on the Indian psyche and resultant panic, the two vital aims of any terrorist group. It enabled the Pakistani handlers to calibrate attacks using the cell phones of ground-level terrorists.  


US Senate Homeland Security Committee had held a hearing on the Mumbai 26/11 attack on January 9, 2009, to discuss how similar tactics would affect US security. One of the first persons to depose before the Committee was the then New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly who underlined the key features of 26/11. He said that the US counter terrorist agencies would need to rework their methodology on how panic could be curbed even in a free media ambience, how to disrupt terrorists’ communication network without adversely affecting the free milieu and how to re-deploy forces in the US since the 26/11 attacks had taken over 60 hours to terminate, a situation US had never experienced in urban areas. 

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. The statue at the start is that of  Tukaram Omble, who died this day 15 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.  

The unexpected capture of Ajmal Kasab by the Mumbai police by the heroism of Tukaram Omble  during the night of 26 November 2008 robbed the plan of its key asset – deniability. Kasab provided details of the training process that the gunmen had gone through in Pakistan. The next breakthrough was Headley’s arrest 11 months later.  Kasab was immediately questioned by Prashant Marde, an officer of the Mumbai police.  The gunman confirmed that there were nine other shooters in the city, and stated that all were Pakistani nationals. Aware of the international ramifications of these revelations, the Indian government permitted the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to interrogate Kasab directly. A team of FBI officials flew in from New York to learn what they could about the attack.  Kasab independently confirmed to the FBI what he had told the Indian police: he was a Pakistani citizen and a member of LeT, and the attack was being directed in real-time from the Pakistani port city of Karachi via mobile and internet telephony. This digital trail connecting the gunmen in Mumbai with controllers in Karachi proved crucial. 

India has had its deep impact because of this terror attack but still once a while some would rise their voice for the neighbouring terror abettor, stating that Sports are different and people must learn to forget ! – forget what.  

The abettor too is reeling under terrorism that they sought to grow.  The recent suicide attack on a Rabiul Awwal congregation in the Balochistan town left almost 60 people dead. At least five people were killed in a targeted attack in KP on the same day, swelling the number of fatalities.

It was one of the bloodiest days of the current year that has already recorded the highest number of casualties among security forces in the past eight years. Terrorist attacks have become almost a daily affair. The return of terrorism presents a most serious challenge to a nation mired in multiple crises. The spate of killings across the country demonstrates the expanding capacity of militant groups to carry out increasingly audacious operations. While the administration silently watches the situation drift toward anarchy, armed marauders carry out their deadly attacks with impunity. The pattern and scale of violence indicate that the militants are better armed than before and well organised.   

Miles away, in a US court, according to Headley’s testimony, he had been trained by the ISI in intelligence collection techniques. Of the $29,500 he received from Pakistani sponsors, $28,500 came from a serving ISI officer. This officer, identified as ‘Major Iqbal’ in American court documents, became the first Pakistani intelligence operative to ever be indicted by the US government for terrorism. The remainder of the money came to Headley from a LeT operative called Sajid Majeed,  deputy head of LeT’s external operations department and handled jihadists worldwide.  US Govt  convicted Headley on US soil but refused to extradite him to India.   

Nation still nurses its wounds of that unfortunate day in 2008 when  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. 

26.11.2008  – a sad day it was for the Nation.!
High respects and regards to our heroes – S. Sampathkumar
26.11. 2023 

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