26/11 Mumbai Attacks

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The 2008 Mumbai attacks were a series of attacks that took place in November 2008, when 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant organisation based in Pakistan, carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai. The attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation, began on Wednesday, 26 November and lasted until Saturday, 29 November 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.

Eight of the attacks occurred in South Mumbai: at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, the Nariman House Jewish community centre, the Metro Cinema, and in a lane behind the Times of India building and St. Xavier’s College. There was also an explosion at Mazagaon, in Mumbai’s port area, and in a taxi at Vile Parle. By the early morning of 28 November, all sites except for the Taj Hotel had been secured by Mumbai Police and security forces. On 29 November, India’s National Security Guards (NSG) conducted ‘Operation Black Tornado’ to flush out the remaining attackers; it culminated in the death of the last remaining attackers at the Taj Hotel and ended the attacks.

On November 26, 2008, Mumbai fell victim to one of the worst terrorist attacks in Indian history. Its perpetrators, members of the terrorist group Lashkar-Taiba, terrorized Maximum City for three days, targeting some of its most best-known locations and killing up to 166 people.

26/11 attack was different in a sense that for the first time, terrorists trained in Pakistan, used the sea route to enter India. The terrorists who participated in 26/11 Mumbai attacks were highly trained and were preparing for this strike for quite a long time. Their objective was to create terror and get some key terrorists released a la Kandhar hijacking episode.

It has been eight years since ten young men stormed into the financial capital of the country with the sole aim of wrecking it to the core — for three consecutive days, the city of Mumbai was wrapped in the grip of terror; eight years since Mumbai was brought down to its knees.

Up until November 2008, terror was associated with the fear that vexed the life of the common man or those unfortunate, inhabiting the disputed borders of the country. For the first time, the bubble of comfort that sheltered the propertied and elite in India was shattered. It was also the first time when foreigners in the country were the target of an attack, transforming a domestic tragedy into one that ended up having significant international ramifications.

But the largest significance of 26/11 lay in the impact that it had on public emotion. Never before had a terrorist attack given rise to public debate of the kind that discussed the role of every element of society in inhibiting terror. From politicians to the country’s security agencies to the media, each failed in its responsibility that eventually claimed the lives of 166 individuals.

The image of the front dome of Taj Mahal Palace hotel encapsulated with a large plume of smoke is one that is etched into the memory of every Mumbaikar. It was not just about the fear of the hundreds trapped inside or the multiple bombings and shootings or the fact that the iconic five-star hotel lay under siege for the longest period of time that made the Taj the face of the 26/11 attacks. Rather, the attack on Taj symbolised something way more powerful. It was a brazen combat against the most affluent and celebrated in the financial capital. It was a brutal strike upon an establishment that symbolised the emergence of an entrepreneurial elite in India.

For more than 60 hours the symbol of opulence in Mumbai lay at the mercy of four heavily armed terrorists.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Bullet marks on the wall at CST

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) was attacked by two gunmen, Ismail Khan and Ajmal Kasab. Kasab was later caught alive by the police and identified by eyewitnesses. The attacks began around 21:30 when the two men entered the passenger hall and opened fire, using AK-47 rifles. The attackers killed 58 people and injured 104 others, their assault ending at about 22:45. Security forces and emergency services arrived shortly afterwards. Announcements by a railway announcer, Vishnu Dattaram Zende, alerted passengers to leave the station and saved scores of lives. The two gunmen fled the scene and fired at pedestrians and police officers in the streets, killing eight police officers. The attackers passed a police station. Knowing that they were outgunned against the heavily armed terrorists, the police officers at the station, instead of confronting the terrorists, decided to switch off the lights and secure the gates.

Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi Trident Two hotels, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi Trident, were among the four locations targeted. Six explosions were reported at the Taj hotel – one in the lobby, two in the elevators, three in the restaurant – and one at the Oberoi Trident. At the Taj Mahal, firefighters rescued 200 hostages from windows using ladders during the first night.

CNN initially reported on the morning of 27 November 2008 that the hostage situation at the Taj had been resolved and quoted the police chief of Maharashtra stating that all hostages were freed; however, it was learned later that day that there were still two attackers holding hostages, including foreigners, in the Taj Mahal hotel.

Nariman House

Nariman House, a Chabad Lubavitch Jewish centre in Colaba known as the Mumbai Chabad House, was taken over by two attackers and several residents were held hostage. Police evacuated adjacent buildings and exchanged fire with the attackers, wounding one. Local residents were told to stay inside. The attackers threw a grenade into a nearby lane, causing no casualties. NSG commandos arrived from Delhi, and a naval helicopter took an aerial survey. During the first day, 9 hostages were rescued from the first floor. The following day, the house was stormed by NSG commandos fast-roping from helicopters onto the roof, covered by snipers positioned in nearby buildings. After a long battle, one NSG commando Havaldar Gajender Singh Bisht and both perpetrators were killed. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka Holtzberg, who was six months pregnant, were murdered with four other hostages inside the house by the attackers.

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When there was fear & terror all over the city & lives of people was in danger Mr Puran Doshi secretary of Congress(I) & Ex Corporator, went inside Taj Mahal Hotel wearing live jacket & saved lives of various innocent people in the hotel. He was the only politician who went at the place where terror attacks happened to save the life of innocent people. He also received a bravery award for taking up initiative & saving life of people. His commitment & selfless motive of serving people makes him a true leader.

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