Each year we count, now it’s 13 years, and the memories of long, black darkness that lasted for three days are still fresh in our collective minds.  But let's not just remember the horror of 26/11 Mumbai attacks but the heroes who laid down their lives while fighting terrorists.

Today, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, and state Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil paid floral tributes to the martyrs who gave their lives fighting terrorists in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. The respects were paid at the memorial at the police headquarters in south Mumbai.

Because of ongoing work on the Coastal Road project, the martyrs' memorial has been moved from its original location at the Police Gymkhana in Marine Drive to the police headquarters at Crawford Market, according to an official. Uddhav Thackeray, who is recovering in a Mumbai hospital following spine surgery, also paid tribute to the 26/11 martyrs.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only a small number of people attended the 13th anniversary of the deadly terror attack. At the memorial, family members of some of the martyred cops also paid their respects.

During the ceremony, dignitaries met with the families of some of the martyrs.

The Horror

Also Read: 26/11: 13 years of attacks, yet scars still remain

On November 26, 2008, a series of attacks were carried out by 10 terrorists of Laskar-e-Taiba, who came by the sea route from Pakistan. The attacks lasted for three days killing 166 people, including security personnel and injuring more than 300. Nine of the terrorists were gunned down by the National Security Guard (NSG) and Mumbai Police.

Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist who was captured alive and later was convicted and sentenced to death. He was hanged by the Indian jail authorities on 21 November 2012, just five days before the fourth anniversary of the attacks.

The terrorists had targeted India’s financial capital- Mumbai’s most crowded places including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Hotel Trident, Nariman House, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital and the Nariman House Jewish community center, now renamed Nariman Light House.

Hemant Karkare, the then-head of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), Army Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Mumbai's Adsditional Police Commissioner Ashok Kamte, Senior Police Inspector Vijay Salaskar, and Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Tukaram Omble are among the martyrs of 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

The heroes

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan

Unnikrishnan, a fearless NSG commando, upheld the Indian Army's motto of "service before self" while fighting terrorists inside the Taj hotel. He and a group of ten commandos had stormed the hotel and engaged the perpetrators in a firefight. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's last words to his men as he was hit by bullets while engaging terrorists inside the Taj were probably, "Do not come up, I will handle them."

For his bravery, the government later awarded him the Ashoka Chakra.

Tukaram Omble

Tukaram Omble, a retired Indian Army soldier who was serving as an assistance sub-inspector for the Mumbai police, is the reason terrorist Ajmal Kasab was apprehended.

On the morning of September 26th, he and his team were guarding one of the checkpoints when two terrorists hijacked his car, one of whom was killed in the initial shootout. The other terrorist, Ajmal Kasab got out of the car and lay down to pretend to surrender. However, as Omble who was unarmed approached him, Kasab stood up and attempted to open fire at police.

Omble took a step in front of him and grabbed Kasab's rifle barrel, preventing the bullets from hitting anyone else. Kasab was overpowered and apprehended by the rest of the team. Omble died after taking over 40 bullets from an AK-47 at point-blank range.

For his extraordinary bravery, the government awarded him the Ashoka Chakra posthumously.

Also Read: 26/11 Mumbai attack: A timeline of the horror and pain

Hemant Karkare

While fighting terrorists, the Anti-Terrorist Squad chief was shot three times in the chest outside Cama Hospital in south Mumbai.

"Karkare was one of the best police officers in Maharashtra, and I dare say in India," said former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Rebeiro

Ashok Kamte

Then Additional Commissioner of the Mumbai Police Ashok Kamte was supervising the Eastern region when he was killed during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Even though his area East zone was not under attack, he offered his assistance during the attacks.

Ashok Kamte had wounded Ajmal Kasab in his hand even while being fatally ambushed at midnight in the Rang Bhavan Lane. Due to Kamte, Ajmal Kasab was apprehended alive. In the narrow lane between St Xaviers College and Rang Bhavan in south Mumbai, he, too, was killed by terrorists.

Vijay Salaskar

Vijay Salaskar, an encounter specialist, was also killed in the line of duty during the Mumbai attacks. Ajmal Kasab, a captured terrorist, confessed to killing Salaskar during interrogation. Before his death, Salaskar was the head of the Anti-Extortion Cell. On January 26, 2009, the government awarded him the Ashoka Charka for his bravery.

Hawaldar Gajendra Singh

Hawaldar Gajendra Singh was a member of the NSG commando team that abseiled from the roof of Nariman House, where terrorists were holding at least six hostages. Terrorists opened fire on the team at the hostage location. Terrorists also lobbed a few grenades at commandos. His ultimate sacrifice was instrumental in the NSG team securing a commanding lead in the fight.

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