Mumbai 26/11 Terror Attacks: With Wounds Still Fresh, A Look Back at Dark Day In India's History

Mumbai 26/11 Terror Attacks: With Wounds Still Fresh, A Look Back at Dark Day In India's History

On that night of 26 November 2008, Mumbai was suddenly shaken by the sound of gunshots. The attackers targeted two five-star hotels, a hospital, railway stations and a Jewish centre in Mumbai.

Vishal SinghUpdated: Thursday, November 23, 2023, 09:03 PM IST
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It has been 15 years since the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, but even today its wounds are alive in the hearts of every person in the country. On 26/11, one of the darkest days in the history of India, terrorists carried out the most brutal terrorist attacks ever. Ten Lashkar-e-Taiba trained and heavily armed extremists attacked many places and prestigious buildings in Mumbai, which lasted for four days. More than 160 people were killed in the Mumbai attacks. On that night of 26 November 2008, Mumbai was suddenly shaken by the sound of gunshots. The attackers targeted two five-star hotels, a hospital, railway stations and a Jewish centre in Mumbai.

Initially no one had any idea that such a big attack had taken place, but gradually the scale and seriousness of this attack began to be estimated. On the night of 26th November itself, Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare and many top officers of Mumbai Police, including Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar were martyred in this attack. This orgy of death, which started from Leopold Cafe and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, ended at Taj Mahal Hotel.

How the attacks unfolded

According to the investigating officers, the attackers were divided into groups of two. Two attackers reached Leopold Café and opened fire indiscriminately. This café is mostly visited by foreigners. This cafe is quite popular among foreign tourists. Before the people present there could understand anything, the attackers opened fire and started leaving from there.10 people were killed in the shooting at Leopold Cafe.

The terrorists targeted Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus(CSMT) , one of the busiest railway stations in the country. A large number of railway passengers were present here. The attackers opened fire indiscriminately here. Ajmal Amir Kasab and Ismail Khan were involved in the firing here.Maximum 58 people were killed in the firing here.

Terrorist Ajmal Kasab and one of his associates had come out of CSMT station and entered Cama Hospital. The mayhem continued in the hospital for almost five hours. In this attack, two watchmen of Cama Hospital were martyred and many employees were seriously injured. Despite this, none of its employees had allowed even a single scratch to the patients. All the employees of Cama had performed their duty by risking their lives.

Police officers swing into action

When terrorists attacked Mumbai, ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamathe and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar reached the incident site. All three of them boarded a police vehicle and went towards Cama Hospital, where the terrorists hiding behind the trees opened fire on the vehicle, in which all three officers were martyred.

The attackers had entered the Oberoi Hotel located at Nariman Point with a lot of ammunition. At that time, more than 350 people were present in that hotel. Here the attackers also took many people hostage. National Security Guard soldiers killed both the attackers here.

The terrorists targeted the Taj Mahal Hotel located near the Gateway of India, the pride of Mumbai. People will hardly be able to forget the fire that broke out in its dome. This building is 105 years old. When the hotel was attacked, it was dinner time and many people were gathered there when suddenly indiscriminate firing started.31 people died in Taj Mahal hotel.

Chabad House targeted

The attackers also targeted Nariman House, also known as Chabad House. Jewish tourists often stayed in this building. Here the NSG commandos had to land in the adjacent building from the helicopter to take action.In the attack on the Chabad House, its director, Gavriel, and his wife Rivka were also killed. Their two-year-old son Moshe survived. Six Jews were killed in the attack here.

We spoke to a senior IPS officer of Mumbai Police to know how prepared Mumbai Police is if such attacks happen again. He said that if any attack like the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack happens again on the city, the Mumbai Police will be alert and will be able to counter it effectively. "Continuous patrolling is being done along the beaches and sea lanes. Five helicopters are in stand-by mode, which can be called immediately to deal with such emergencies," the police officer said.

'Over 5,500 CCTVs installed in Mumbai'

When FPJ asked the officer what kind of security arrangements are there in Mumbai, the officer claimed that all necessary steps have been taken for the security of Mumbai. "The trained commandos of the Quick Response Team are there to help in an emergency. There are a total of 650 personnel in QRT." He said, "To keep an eye on any suspicious activities across the city, more than 5,500 CCTVs have been installed in Mumbai. CCTVs have also been installed at the Chowpatty of the sea shores."

"Security has been put in place at 81 landing points around Mumbai. Patrolling is done with a total of 9 operational high-speed interceptor patrol boats while 3 boats are kept in reserve. In all, 24 such boats are allocated for Mumbai's security," another IPS officer said. The officer added that to meet a 26/11-like attack, there is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in place to coordinate the response and command of the subsequent anti-terror counter operations by police and other specialised forces including commando units, the officer said. " Our SOP is ready to deal with this type of attack, but I cannot share this SOP with anyone. But if an attack like 26/11 happens again, then the Mumbai Police can face it," he said.

In March 2022, the state government had announced to give one step promotion to the policemen who arrested Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Kasab during the Mumbai attacks, but till now they have not received any promotion. A total of 15 policemen, from constable to inspector, were part of the team that caught Kasab.

During the 26/11 terrorist attack, Ajmal Kasab was caught alive by the police at Girgaum Chowpatty. Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Ombale was martyred in that operation, while nine officers have now retired.

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