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World Event 101: 2008 Mumbai Massacre: Stories of Heroes

Taj Hotel Mumbai Attack 2008 Terrorist India

The Taj Hotel was one of the sites of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, a series of terrorist attacks that took place in November 2008, when 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Islamist organisation from Pakistan, carried out 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai. Image source: NPR

2008 Attack Background

The 2008 Mumbai Massacres were a series of terrorist attacks that took place in November 2008, when 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Islamist organisation from Pakistan, carried out 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai, India. The attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation, killed 174 people, including nine attackers and 26 foreign nationals, and injured more than 300 others.

The attackers targeted civilians at various locations in South Mumbai, such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, the Leopold Cafe, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the Oberoi Trident Hotel, the Nariman House Jewish Centre, and two hospitals. They also detonated explosives at Mazagaon and Vile Parle. The Indian security forces launched a counter-operation to eliminate the terrorists and rescue the hostages. The siege ended on 29 November 2008, after all the attackers were killed or captured.

The sole surviving attacker, Ajmal Kasab, confessed that he and his accomplices were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba and were controlled by Pakistan. He was executed in 2012. The attacks strained the relations between India and Pakistan and raised questions about India’s internal security and preparedness.

Story of Heroes

Read this and tell me you are not impressed with the kind of sacrifices that people make to protect others under their care:-

Prashant Mangeshikar could be dead, one of more than a hundred victims of militant attacks across Mumbai landmarks, if it had not been for an employee at the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Mangeshikar, his wife and daughter were in the foyer of the 105-year-old hotel on Wednesday night when Islamist gunmen opened indiscriminate fire in one of a series of coordinated attacks in India’s financial capital. Recovering from the initial shock and chaos, hotel staff shepherded the guests, including the Mangeshikar family, through the service section upstairs — only suddenly to come face to face with one of the gunmen.

“He looked young and did not speak to us. He just fired. We were in sort of a single file,” Mangeshikar, a 52-year-old gynaecologist, told Reuters. “The man in front of my wife shielded us. He was a maintenance section staff. He took the bullets.”

Within seconds after Mangeshikar’s family was saved from the bullets, the guests made a dash for the hotel rooms to hide. Mangeshikar and a few others dragged the wounded hotel employee identified only as “Mr. Rajan” into one of the rooms.

“His intestine was a lump hanging from a gaping hole in his abdomen,” he said. “The bullet had entered him from close to the spine.”

For the next 12 hours, Mangeshikar and other guests surrounded the wounded man trying to push back his intestines with bed sheets and stop the bleeding. He was finally evacuated, but it was not known if he survived.

“The hotel staffs have been very, very brave,” Mangeshikar said. “Hats off to them.”

Mangeshikar said that, but for the courage of Mr. Rajan, his wife and daughter could have been dead. “I’m going out today to the hospital to find out what happened to him,” he said.

“I owe it to that brave man.”

Such stories bring tears…we salute the heroes of the Mumbai massacres.

Other Heroic Stories

The 2008 Mumbai attack was a horrific act of terrorism that killed 166 people and injured over 300. Among the victims were many innocent civilians, tourists, hotel staff, and security personnel. However, amid the chaos and carnage, there were stories of heroism and bravery that saved hundreds of lives. Here are some of the heroes who fought against the terrorists and sacrificed their lives for others.

  • Tukaram Omble: He was an assistant sub-inspector in the Mumbai Police and a former army soldier. He was instrumental in capturing the only surviving terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, alive. He grabbed the barrel of Kasab’s gun and took several bullets in his chest, giving time for other policemen to overpower him. He was awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, posthumously.
  • Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan: He was a commando of the elite National Security Guard (NSG) unit that was deployed to neutralize the terrorists at the Taj Palace Hotel. He led his team to rescue over 50 hostages from the hotel and engaged in a fierce gunfight with the terrorists. He was shot by a terrorist while trying to save a fellow commando who was injured. He was also posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra.
  • Karambir Singh Kang: He was the general manager of the Taj Palace Hotel and was away from the hotel when the attack started. He rushed back to the hotel and coordinated the evacuation of hundreds of guests and staff. He refused to leave the hotel until everyone was safe, even though his wife and two children were killed by the terrorists in their room. He showed remarkable courage and leadership in the face of personal tragedy.
  • Mallika Jagad: She was the banquet manager at the Taj Palace Hotel and hosted a wedding reception when the attack began. She ordered the guests to get under the table and remain silent and separated the spouses to reduce the risk of losing entire families. She later led 50 guests to safety through a back exit, with no casualties in her group. She displayed calmness and presence of mind in a dangerous situation.
  • Thomas Varghese: He was a senior waiter at Wasabi, a Japanese restaurant at the Taj Palace Hotel. He heard gunshots in the hallway and asked all the guests to crouch down. He then guided their evacuation through a fire exit. He was the last one to leave the restaurant but was gunned down by the terrorists in an alley. He sacrificed his life to save others.

These are just some of the stories of heroes who showed extraordinary courage and humanity during the 2008 Mumbai attack. They inspire all of us and deserve our respect and gratitude.

Final Say

The stories of heroes during the 2008 Mumbai attack are a testament to the courage, resilience and sacrifice of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. They show us how human beings can rise above fear, hatred and violence to protect, help and save others. They inspire us to value life, peace and solidarity more than anything else. They remind us that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope and light.

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