As many as 183 innocent people lost their lives and over 300 were injured in the dastardly act. Nine terrorists were eventually gunned down in the joint operation by Indian Army, NSG commandoes and Mumbai Police. One terrorist named Ajmal Kasav was captured alive.
The attack was well planned. A gang of 10 terrorists left Karachi in a mid-sized vessel. Midway they switched to two rafts and berthed at Badhwar Park. They reached Mumbai through sea route and met two locals at Cuffe Parade. They hid for about five hours and then headed out in three groups.
Two fidayeen reached CST, aiming to take hostages but could not. Instead, they started firing indiscriminately, killing many people and scooted to nearby Cama Hospital to take hostages. When this plan failed, they again sprayed bullets on people. Additional Commissioner of Mumbai Police, Ashok Kamte was gunned down outside Metro. ATS Chief Hemant Karkare reached Cama Hospital.
He thought that terrorists had run away and removed his bullet proof vest. He was immediately hit in the chest and was killed. The other two groups of terrorists managed to enter Hotel Taj and Nariman House, killed people and took hostage some foreign nationals including Americans and Israelis.
While the whole nation was in shock and anger at this tragedy, the brave policemen led by NSG commandoes were deployed to thwart the terrorists’ evil design of killing innocent people and blowing up the Taj. As the terrorists had huge ammunition with them, including grenades, the operation took two days to complete before all the terrorists hidden there were killed.
The attack appeared to be aimed at getting international attention. It was also believed that the attack was intended to hurt the economic prosperity of India by creating a fear in the minds of foreigners to venture into India through various types of businesses.
It aimed at reducing the number of European visitors to India, damaging the country’s travel and tourism. Since hotel Taj is a symbol of India’s heritage, terrorists’ attack on it had the dubious objective of destroying it.
Since Mumbai is India’s financial capital, the city was specifically targeted to make a dent on the country’s economy. The captured terrorist Kasav confessed the evil design of blowing up the Taj.
As Mumbai struggled through its darkest night of 26th November, 2008, it was daytime in the US. TV channels across America followed all the action all day long even as the country headed into Thanksgiving.
Terrorist attacks normally tend not to discriminate among the likely victims, but in this case there was a conscious plan to focus on American, British and Israeli nationals. Both Taj and Oberoi have a sizeable concentration of high-value tourists from the US and the UK.
Perhaps India’s strengthening relations with these countries which are helping the country march towards economic prosperity have made Pakistan who is harbouring terrorism against India green with envy to indulge in such cowardly and reproachful acts.
Pakistani link to the terrorist attack has been clearly established. The confessional statements of Kasav, the belongings of terrorists seized from their bodies, the mobile phone of one terrorist that fell from the window of hotel Taj while he was hurling a hand grenade all proved beyond doubt that all the 10 terrorists belonged to Pakistan
The mood of the general public in India irrespective of caste, creed or community was angry and understandably so. There were marches and protests in various parts of the country urging the government to take concrete action against Pakistan which has been the source of all terrorist activities in several Indian cities which include New Delhi, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Varanasi, Malegaon, besides Mumbai.
Pakistan, following its old style, continued to deny having any hand in the terrorist attack. It even refused to accept that the terrorists involved were Pakistani nationals. It asked India to provide concrete proofs regarding the identity of terrorists. The Indian Government issued strict warnings to Pakistan.
It asked Pakistan to hand over the notorious terrorists which were involved in earlier attacks. Pakistan did the eyewash of arresting a few of them only to let them go after some days. Shedding crocodile tears, Pakistan expressed sadness on the tragic incident and assured to cooperate with Indian authorities.
Pakistan also said that it itself has been a victim of terrorism for so many years now. But all this becomes meaningless in the wake of the fact that several terrorist organizations are based in Pakistan and its successive governments including that of Pervez Musharraf and of newly elected Asif Zardari have done nothing to stop these organizations.
The 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack has brought forth several questions, some of which are: What should India do to stop being on the receiving end of terrorism harboured by Pakistan? How should it beef up its security on sea, air and land? What stance should it keep towards Pakistan?
Should it fight a war with Pakistan or at least go for direct surgical operation to destroy terrorist bases in Pakistan? These questions are not easy to answer. But clearly the intelligent minds and powers that be are now more than ever set to the task of finding solution to the problem of terrorism.
India is a great country. Its people are strong. The acts of terrorism unite them instead of dividing them. When the Taj and Trident reopened on 21st December, 2008, the world got the message that nothing can defeat us.