26/11 is marked as a dark day in India’s history. A series of terrorist attacks, lasting four days, hit Mumbai in November 2008. Today marks 14 years to the day 12 coordinated shootings and bombings took place in iconic locations across the city, including Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Oberoi Trident and Taj Palace and Tower among others.
On the last day of the attack on November 29, 2008, the National Security Guards conducted Operation Tornado to flush out terrorists from the Taj hotel. A total of 166 people, including foreigners and security personnel, were killed in the attack while nine terrorists affiliated to Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba were gunned down and the remaining tenth—Ajmal Kasab—was taken into custody. He was convicted and sentenced to death, and later hanged on November 21, 2012.
A total of 10 young men arrived in Mumbai from Karachi on speedboats. They quickly spread out, with two entering the Trident, two going to the Taj, and four to Nariman House. Kasab and another terrorist, Ismail Khan, storm CSMT and start shooting randomly causing panic and death.
These two then went to Cama Hospital and ambushed as well as killed six police officers on their way, including Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and then head of anti-terror squad Hemant Karkare.
Images of smoke rising from the Taj hotel are still fresh in the collective memory of the nation. By midnight, Mumbai Police surrounded the hotel as guests huddled up into small rooms. Around 1 am, the central dome of the hotel is bombed with plumes of smoke rising out of the iconic building.
The following day as army soldiers and marine commandoes surround Taj, Trident and Nariman House. There are reports of fresh rounds of gun battle, even as terrorists set fire to a room on the fourth floor of the hotel.
The NSG flushes out remaining terrorists at the Taj in Operation Tornado. The attackers inside are killed in the operation. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was fatally shot while rescuing commando Sunil Yadav while Sergeant Gajendra Singh Bisht was killed in the Nariman House operation during a prolonged gunfight.
Moshe Holtzberg, the Israeli child who was just two years old when he lost his parents in the serial terror attacks, has called on the international community to look for ways to counter terror so that “nobody has to go through what he has gone through”.