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Aye mere vatan ke logon, jara aankh me bhar lo paani
Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani”

Saturday,26 November 2022 11:30 PM IST

Aye mere vatan ke logon, jara aankh me bhar lo paani
Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani”

Anupama Nair

It was a day like any other day – getting up to, perform house duties and then hurrying to my job at a US Company to login at 6.30 PM. However, everything changed in a span of three hours as my Mumbai was attacked by Islamic Terrorists and then I learnt terror, anarchy, killing of thousands of innocent kafirs  be it New York, Paris or Mumbai has only one religion, which I do not wish to state as all of you must be aware and realize. I still cannot believe my beloved city was attacked in such a way that even after 14 years we Mumbaikars cannot forget or will never forget till our last breath.

This is what happened. Read on…

On November 26, 2008, 10 Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists from Pakistan arrived by the Arabian Sea and opened fire, killing innocents “including 18 security personnel, and injuring several others during the nearly 60-hour siege in Mumbai. When armed terrorists attacked a dozen locations in Mumbai: including two luxury hotels, a hospital, the railway station, a restaurant, and a Jewish center, they killed both Indians and foreigners, and gravely wounded many more. The assault, known as 26/11, scarred the nation’s psyche to such extent that by exposing the country’s vulnerability to Islamic terrorism, although India was no stranger to it starting from 1947, when 2 million innocent Hindus and Sikhs were killed in East and West Pakistan. The Taj Mumbai’s burning domes and spires, which stayed ablaze for two days and three nights, will forever symbolize the tragic events of 26/11”.

“The attacks, that drew widespread global condemnation, began on Wednesday 26 November, 2008 and lasted till Saturday 29 November, 2008. Eight of the attacks occurred in South Mumbai: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Palace and Tower, the Leopold Cafe, the Cama Hospital, the Nariman House, 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, and lastly in a taxi in Vile Parle. By the early morning of 28th November, all sites except for the Taj Hotel had been saved by the ever-efficient Mumbai Police and our security forces. On 29th November, India's National Security Guards (NSG) conducted Operation Black Tornado to flush out the remaining attackers and it culminated in the death of the last remaining terrorists at the Taj Hotel and ended the attacks”.

Ajmal Kasab, who was the sole surviving terrorist captured by the martyr Tukaram Omble in his own words unearthed the barbaric and cowardice of the terrorists: “the attackers were members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba,  from Pakistan, corroborating initial claims from the Indian Government”. Pakistan who denied any part in the act later had to confirm he was a Pakistani citizen. 

I who was working in my office in Malad was going for my break in the cafeteria saw these scenes in Television. The office then closed all the doors and deactivated the elevators. I to my dismay realized I had forgotten my phone at home. I could not let my family know I was safe. “The first set of events occurred around 8 PM  on 26th  November, when 10 men in inflatable speedboats came ashore at two locations in Colaba. They had reportedly told local fishermen, who asked them who they were to "mind their own business" before they split up and headed in two different ways. The fishermen's subsequent report to the police department received little response and local police failed to act on the information given to them!”

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) was attacked by two gunmen, Ismail Khan and Ajmal Kasab. Kasab was identified by eyewitnesses. An eye witness stated, “the attacks began around 21.30 PM 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 PM. Security forces and emergency services arrived shortly afterwards. I remember announcement by a railway announcer, who alerted passengers to leave the station and thus saved many lives. The two gunmen fled the scene and fired at pedestrians and police officers in the streets, killing 8 police officers”.

The attackers then reached Cama Hospital with intent to kill innocent patients, which clearly showed their cruelty and barbarism. However, the hospital staff locked all of the patient wards. Soon a team of the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad led by the brave police chief Hemant Karkare searched the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and then left in pursuit of Kasab and Khan, who opened fire on the vehicle in a lane next to the hospital, and was fired back. Unfortunately, our brave officers Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte and one of their officers were martyred. “Kasab and Khan seized the police vehicle, but later abandoned it and seized a passenger car instead. They then ran into a police roadblock, which had been set up after Jadhav, the only survivor who radioed for help. A gun battle then ensued in which Khan was killed and Kasab was wounded. After a long physical struggle, Kasab was arrested”.

The Leopold Cafe, which was a very popular restaurant and bar on Colaba Causeway, was one of the first sites to be attacked. “Two terrorists, Shoaib alias Soheb and Nazir alias Abu Umer, opened fire on the Cafe on the evening of 26th November lasting 15 minutes killing and injuring many innocents. There were two explosions in taxis caused by timer bombs. The first one occurred at Vile Parle, instantly killing the driver and a passenger. The second explosion took place at Wadi Bunder killing many including the driver of the taxi and about 15 others were injured. Two hotels, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel 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. Brave firefighters rescued 200 hostages from windows using ladders during the first night”.

The 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, fortunately causing no casualties. NSG commandos arrived from Delhi, and a naval helicopter took an aerial survey of the area. NSG commandos fast-roping from helicopters onto the roof, covered by snipers positioned in nearby buildings. After a long battle, one NSG commando, Sergeant Gajender Singh Bisht was martyred killing the two terrorists. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka Holtzberg, who was six months pregnant, were murdered with four other hostages inside the house by the terrorists.

According to the radio transmissions picked up by the Indian intelligence, the attackers “were  told by their handlers in Pakistan that the lives of the Jews were worth 50 times more than non-Jews. The injuries found on the bodies indicated that they may have been tortured”. During the attacks, both hotels were surrounded by Rapid Action Force personnel and Marine Commandos (MARCOS) and National Security Guards (NSG) commandos. Security forces stormed both hotels, and all the 9 attackers were killed by the morning of 29th  November. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan of the NSG was fatally shot during the rescue of the Commando and Sunil Yadav, was hit in the leg by a bullet during the rescue operations at Taj. Many hostages were killed in the Oberoi Trident.

“It was clear the Mumbai Terror attacks were planned and directed by Lashkar-e-Toiba militants from Pakistan, and carried out by 10 Mujahedeen’s trained and sent to Mumbai and directed from Pakistan via mobile phones and VoIP”. Mumbai Police Department originally identified 37 suspects including two Pakistani army officers for their alleged involvement in the plot. All but two of the suspects, are Pakistanis. David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana arrested in the United States for other attacks were also found to have been involved in planning of the Mumbai attacks. One of these men, Pakistani-American David Headley alias Daood Sayed Gilani, had made several trips to India before the attacks and gathered video and GPS information on behalf of the plotters.

Only one of the 10 attackers, Ajmal Kasab, survived the attack and was hanged in Yerwada jail in 2012. The other nine attackers killed were Hafiz Arshad alias Abdul Rehman Bada, Abdul Rahman Chhota, Javed alias Abu Ali, Fahadullah alias Abu Fahad, Ismail Khan alias Abu Ismail, Babar Imran alias Abu Akasha, Nasir alias Abu Umar, Nazir alias Abu Umer and Shoaib alias Abu Soheb. On the first anniversary of the event, the state paid homage to the victims of the attack. Force One, a new security force created by the Maharashtra government to prevent future attacks held a parade from Nariman Point to Chowpatty.

The Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde today paid floral tributes to the brave martyrs who laid down their lives while fighting terrorists who had attacked the metropolis on this day 14 years ago.” They paid tributes at the martyrs' memorial in the premises of the Police Commissioner Office in south Mumbai, where Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, minister Deepak Kesarkar, Chief Secretary Manu Kumar Srivastava, state Director General of Police (DGP) Rajnish Seth, Mumbai Police Commissioner Vivek Phansalkar and other officials were present”. Family members of the policemen, who lost their lives, also paid tributes to the martyrs.

Our beloved Prime Minister, Narendra Modi paid homage to the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, tweeted “today is also the anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks. 14 years back, when India was celebrating its Constitution and Citizens’ Rights, enemies of humanity carried out the biggest terror attack on India. I pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the attack,” said PM Modi.

The Union Home Minister Amit Shah paid heartfelt tributes to those who lost their lives in the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks tweeted “I pay my heartfelt tributes to those who lost their lives in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and remember and salute our brave security personnel who made the supreme sacrifice fighting the terrorists. Today gives a message to the whole world to fight unitedly against terrorism,” Shah said.

The chairman of Mahindra Group, Anand Mahindra, also paid tribute to the people and the members of the security forces who were killed during the siege. In a tweet that included images of security personnel killed in the heinous terrorist attack, he said “no, I will never forget. But it's not the horror or the terror that I will remember. It's these heroes who I will remember and who will remain in my heart and head forever”.

Remember the lyrics of Maha Kavi Pradeep, sung by the Nightingale Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar:

Aye mere vatan ke logon, tum khub laga lo naara
Yeh shubh din hai ham sab kaa, lahara lo tiranga pyaara
Par mat bhulo sima par, viron ne hai pran ganvaaye
Kuchh yaad unhe bhi kar lo 
Jo laut ke ghar naa aaye 
(Aye mere vatan ke logon, jara aankh me bhar lo paani
Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani) .

Jab ghaayal huwa himalay, khatare me padi aajaadi
Jab tak thi saans lade woh – 2, phir apni laash bicha di
Sangeen pe dhar kar maatha, so gaye amar balidaani
Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani

Jab desh me thi diwali, woh khel rahe the holi
Jab ham baithe the gharo me, woh jhel rahe the goli
The dhanya javaan woh aapane, thee dhanya woh unaki javaani
Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani

Koyi sikh koyi jaat maratha , koyi gurakha koyi madaraasi) 
Sarahad pe maranewala , har veer tha bhaaratavaasi
Jo khun gira parvat par, woh khun tha hindustani
Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani

Thi khun se lath path kaaya, phir bhee banduk uthaake
Das das ko ek ne maara, phir gir gaye hosh ganvaakeJab ant samay aaya toh – 2, kah gaye ke abb marate hain
Khush rahana desh ke pyaaro , abb ham toh safar karate hain
Kya log the woh diwaane, kya log the woh abhimaani
Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani
Tum bhul naa jaao unako, iss liye kahee yeh kahaani
Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani
Jay hind, jay hind ki sena 
Jay hind, jay hind, jay hind

(Credits: Mahakavi Praddep for Lyrics, C. RamaChandra for music and Lata Mangeshkar for her voice)

 

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