Twelve years have passed since the deadly 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai and Pakistan has yet to take action on the multiple dossiers shared by India, and today we just remember how the things happened and again pay respect to those brave soldiers who sacrificed himself for us.

EVENTS OF 26/11

The attacks were carried out by 10 gunmen who were believed to be connected to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist organization. Armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades, the terrorists targeted civilians at numerous sites in the southern part of Mumbai, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, the popular Leopold Café, two hospitals, and a theatre. While most of the attacks ended within a few hours after they began at around 9:30 PM on November 26, the terror continued to unfold at three locations where hostages were taken—the Nariman House, where a Jewish outreach centre was located, and the luxury hotels Oberoi Trident and Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.

Indian security forces ended the siege at the Oberoi Trident around midday on November 28 and at the Taj Mahal Palace on the morning of the following day. In all, at least 174 people, including 20 security force personnel and 26 foreign nationals, were killed. More than 300 people were injured. Nine of the 10 terrorists were killed, and one was arrested.

ATTACKERS

The way the terrorists had reportedly singled out Western foreigners at both of the luxury hotels and at the Nariman House led some to believe that the Islamic militant group al-Qaeda was possibly involved, but this appeared not to be the case after the lone arrested terrorist, Ajmal Amir Kasab, provided substantial information regarding the planning and execution of the attacks. Kasab, a native of Pakistan’s Punjab province, told investigators that the 10 terrorists underwent prolonged guerrilla-warfare training in the camps of Lashkar-e-Taiba. He further revealed that the team of terrorists had spent time at the headquarters of a second and related organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, in the city of Muridke before traveling from Punjab to the port city of Karachi and setting out for Mumbai by sea.

After first traveling aboard a Pakistani-flagged cargo ship, the gunmen hijacked an Indian fishing boat and killed its crew; then, once they were near the Mumbai coast, they used inflatable dinghies to reach Badhwar Park and the Sassoon Docks, near the city’s Gateway of India monument. At that point the terrorists split into small teams and set out for their respective targets. Later kasab confessed for his crimes 

WHATS HAPPENED AFTER THAT?

The National Investigation Agency, which probed the conspiracy behind the attack, had filed a charge sheet against nine persons: David Headley, Hafiz Saeed, Tahawwur Rana, two serving Pakistani army officials Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali, Ilyas Kashmiri, Sajid Malik and Abdul Rehman Hashmi.

Home Ministry sources say that the dossiers shared with Islamabad contained key pieces of evidence including statements from key witnesses and FBI officials, information about the SIM cards used by the attackers and the GPS coordinates they relied on to carry out the terror attacks. The dossiers also contained DNA reports of the 10 Pakistani terrorists involved in the attack as well as the deposition of a Mumbai magistrate before whom the lone captured Pakistani gunman, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, had given a voluntary confession of his alleged involvement in the attacks.

Government sources said that in his statement to the magistrate, Kasab confessed that the conspiracy for the attacks was hatched in Pakistan by terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives including the alleged mastermind Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi. There is also key evidence in the form of findings from FBI officers, who told the trial court in Mumbai that the mobile phones recovered from the terror sites were used by the terrorists to communicate with their handlers in Pakistan during the siege. It was based on these depositions that the FBI arrested David Headley and Tahawwur Rana.

While the home ministry pursues Rana’s extradition from the US (and the NIA is hopeful of laying hands on him soon), Pakistan’s failure to take action against the perpetrators on its soil, or prosecute any of the accused, shows its lack of commitment towards countering terrorism.

A case in point is Sajid Mir, the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, who is wanted by five countries—India, US, Denmark, Australia and France. However, he continues to be at large in Pakistan. The US country report on terrorism 2019 has also noted this. The US Department of Justice has also filed a case against Sajid Mir and Abdul Rehman Pasha. Yet, Pakistan has neither arrested not prosecuted Pasha. Although present in Pakistan, his whereabouts are unknown.

26/11 Mumbai attacks: Court issues non-bailable warrants against 2 Pak Army officials and after some many years later Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency on Wednesday accepted that eleven terrorists involved in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack were from its soil.

OUR BRAVE HERO’S

According to the then Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, 15 policemen and two NSG commandos were killed in the attacks. Retired Mumbai Police officer Rakesh Maria was given the responsibility of investigating the attacks. He interrogated Kasab and investigated the case which revealed of Pakistan’s involvement in the barbaric act.

Hemant Karkare: ATS Chief Hemant Karkare defended Mumbai till his last breath until terrorists Kasab and Ismail opened fire outside the Cama Hospital.

Vijay Salaskar: Encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar was killed by bullets fired by Kasab as per his confession post-capture.

Ashok Kamte: Senior police office Ashok Kamte was the third brave life lost along with Karkare and Salaskar outside the Cama Hospital. All three were posthumously awarded Ashok Chakras for their bravery and dedication to defend the city of Mumbai until their dying breath.

Tukaram Omble: It was because of assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble’s selfless sacrifice that Kasab became the only terrorist from the attacks to be captured, and later, hanged.

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan: Team commander of 51 Special Action Group, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan defended his fellow commandos and guests trapped in the Taj Hotel until he was shot dead. His reported last words, “Do not come up, I will handle them” were as heroic as his actions in Operation Black Tornado. He was also posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra.

Karambir Singh Kang: Karambir Singh Kang, the general manager of the Taj hotel, supervised the evacuation of guests from the hotel despite losing his own wife and son who were trapped in the hotel’s 6th floor.

Mallika Jagad: Mallika Jagad, who was a 24-year-old Assistant Banquet Manager of the Hotel at the time of 26/11, led about 60 guests to their safety. Along with the other staff, Jagad locked the banquet doors, turned off the lights, and asked the guests to remain silent, until they were spotted by the fire crew and helped to escape through the window. Parallelly, in the hotel’s Japanese restaurant Wasabi, senior waiter Thomas Varghese evacuated all his guests and was the last person to leave, but was shot before reaching safety.

The four furry friends and heroes: The four furry friends and heroes Max, Tiger, Sultan, and Ceaser, were sniffer dogs from Mumbai Police’s Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad who saved countless lives by detecting bombs with their sharp sense of smell.

Checkout more such content at: https://gogomagazine.in/category/magazine/writeups-volume-4/