Today marks 13 years since the 26 November (hence “26/11”) 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, carried out by 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in the country’s financial capital, Mumbai. The terrorists targeted various crowded locations across the city, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Hotel Trident, Nariman House, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, among others.
A total of 166 people, including security personnel, lost their lives, while the National Security Guard (NSG) and Mumbai Police gunned down nine of the terrorists.
Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist captured alive, was convicted and sentenced to death. Kasab was hanged on 21 November 2012, five days before the fourth anniversary of the attacks, which lasted for four days.
26/11/2008: The 10 Lashkar terrorists arrive in Mumbai from Karachi on speedboats. Late evening, first reports begin streaming in from the metropolis. Though the initial reports state that a ‘gang war’ is going on, it soon becomes clear that this is a terrorist attack.
The targets picked were all famous Mumbai landmarks, and usually with large gatherings during business hours. The highest casualties were at Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus where 58 people were killed in indiscriminate firing.
Four of the terrorists enter the Taj, two enter the Trident and two others enter the Nariman House. The remaining two, including Kasab, open fire at the CSMT, killing 58 people and injuring more than 100. Kasab and his partner, Ismail Khan, then move towards the Cama Hospital. On the way, they ambush and kill six police officials, including then Mumbai Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte.
30 people were killed at Trident hotel, 31 at The Taj hotel, 11 at the Leopold café, 7 at Nariman House, a Jewish centre. Some people were killed in the shooting at the Cama Hospital and near the Metro cinema. Some foreign nationals were also among the dead.
The duo then flees in the officers’ jeep but are intercepted by the Mumbai Police. In the ensuing scuffle, Khan is killed while Kasab is arrested. Constable Tukaram Ombale is killed in action.
27 November 2008: Army soldiers and Marine commandos surround the hostage sites–the Taj, Trident and Nariman House. The elite NSG, deployed to storm the sites, launch Operation Black Tornado.
NSG commandos trooped onto the roof of Nariman House from helicopters and eliminated the attackers, securing the site by the morning of November 28. The siege at the Taj continued for the longest and ended only on November 29 after an NSG operation. The NSG rescued 250 people from the Oberoi, 300 from the Taj and 60 people from Nariman House.
28 November 2008: Commandos finish the operation at the Trident, as well as Nariman House.
29 November 2008: The attacks come to an end with the NSG securing the Taj.
Intercepts of wireless communication during the operation revealed that the terrorists were receiving instruction from handlers sitting in a control room in Pakistan. They were also monitoring TV footage to understand the movement of forces. TV links to the hotels were snapped once this was known.
The 26/11 attacks led to a spate of resignations, with then Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, among others, stepping down.
The nation remembers with solemn hearts the carnage unleashed in Mumbai 13 years ago by Pakistani terrorists, on November 26, 2008.
The 166 people, who fell to terrorists’ bullets at several locations in Mumbai, are being remembered through various events, organised in Mumbai and elsewhere. President Ram Nath Kovind paid tributes to the martyrs and homage to the victims of the attacks, saying that the nation would always be grateful to the security personnel who laid down their lives in the line of duty.
“India can’t forget the wounds of the Mumbai attacks. Now, today’s India is combating terrorism with a new policy and new ways,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, speaking in Hindi, in a brief video on the attacks posted on Twitter by the external affairs ministry’s spokesperson.
“I pay my homage to all those who died in the Mumbai attacks. Many brave police personnel were martyred in this attack. I also pay homage to them,” the prime minister said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah termed the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks a “cowardly” act while paying tribute to those who had lost their lives. Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal also paid tribute to jawans, policemen and citizens who lost their lives.
The lone terrorist caught alive was hanged after a trial. Interrogation of Ajmal Kasab revealed that the terrorists were from the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The plot was hatched in Pakistan, and the attackers trained for 18 months in Muzaffarabad of PoK before they set sail from Karachi.
However, the kingpins of the 26/11 operation based in Pakistan have still not been brought to justice, as the trial drags on through the dubious Pakistani justice delivery mechanism.
Once the Pakistani links emerged, Islamabad promised to cooperate in the investigations. After initial denials, Pakistan admitted that the terrorists were Pakistanis and registered cases. Indian authorities said the level of sophistication in the attacks pointed to the involvement of Pakistani authorities- a charge Islamabad denied.
Under international pressure, Pakistan arrested Hafiz Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and other masterminds of the attacks. However the case made little progress, with several judges recusing themselves from the trial, and Pakistan’s lack of will to bring the case to a conclusion.
In the US, David Coleman Headley was convicted of involvement in the attacks and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
A senior diplomat from the High Commission of Pakistan was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs today. A note verbale reiterating the call for an expeditious trial in the Mumbai terror attacks case, and calling on Pakistan to abide by its commitment to not allow territories under its control for terrorism against India was handed over to him.
The term “26/11” comes from “26 November” although the Indian media copies the American style of mentioning the day and then the month; so, if it’s 9/11 for “September 11” terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 2001, it should be 11/26 if the format for dates is “November 26”.