Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan attained martyrdom fighting terrorists on the third day of the November 26-29 Mumbai Terror Attacks. He was only 31 years at the time and serving the Indian Army in the elite Special Action Group of the NSG (National Security Guards). The only son of a retired ISRO Officer K. Unnikrishnan and Dhanalakshmi Unnikrishnan, he was overpowered by the wounds of numerous bullets while fighting and engaging terrorists inside the Taj Mahal Palace during Operation Black Tornado. He was posthumously honored with the Ashoka Chakra by the Indian government, which is the highest peace time gallantry award. The courageous officer of Indian Army whose last message to men under him was “Do not come up, I will handle them”, has now become an epitome of bravery.
1. Terrorists in Mumbai
The attacks in Mumbai started on the 26th of November at the Taj Palace and other iconic buildings in the south of Mumbai.
2. Capturing the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
At the 100-year old Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, terrorists held many people as hostage in locked rooms.
3. Boys Called In
51 SAG were deployed in the operation at the Taj palace where Major Unnikrishnan was the commander. They were engaged there to rid the place of terrorists and rescue people kept as hostages.
4. Operation Black Tornado Begins
Along with a group of 10 commandos, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan entered the hotel and through the staircase reached the sixth floor.
5. Locating the terrorists
The presence of terrorists was first sensed by them when the team started coming down through the stairs. They understood that they were on the third floor of the hotel.
6. Innocents Inside
The terrorists held hostage many women inside a room and locked it from inside. They could be released only by breaking open the doors.
7. Attack on Commandos
The commandos along with Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan broke open the door and with it a heavy rounds of firing from the terrorists started, hitting Commando Sunil Yadav, partner of Major Unnikrishnan.
8. Leading the Men
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was a brave and self less soldier and led his team from the front. He started another round of firing along with his men at the terrorists while trying to drive out the hostages. The two sides engaged in fierce bullet fight which turned fatal for both.
9. Taking Care of a Fellow Commando
Since commando Sunil Yadav was severely injured because of the bullet firing, Major Unnikrishnan had arranged for his evacuation from the Taj Palace very soon.
10. Lived for Others
He was least interested in his personal safety and irrespective of anything went on to continue with engaging of terrorists to release the hostages.
11. Targeting the Intruders
Major Unnikrishnan bravely chased terrorists and they had to escape to another floor of the hotel. This too was done amidst heavy rounds of gunfire.
12. Operation Continues
After reaching that floor another round of encounter followed.
13. Injured in Firing
Major Unnikrishnan was shot from the back which resulted in severe injuries which became fatal as time passed.
14. But the Lion Continued Chasing Dogs
He kept fighting despite the injuries, but was soon overpowered by them and eventually lost his life.
15. Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead
His death was a major cause of sorrow to people throughout the Nation and many people openly mourned his death while taking to the streets. There were thousands who stood outside the Bangalore residence of Unnikrishnan to pay their last respect. Many mourners shouted slogans during his funeral “Long Live Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan” and “Sandeep Unnikrishnan Amar Rahein”.
16. Final Goodbye to the Fallen Hero
Full military honours were held during the funeral of Major Unnikrishnan.
17. When Political Swines Began Squealing
The absence of the Kerala government during the death and funeral of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan left his family and especially his father angered. The then Chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan was in a controversial position regarding the ‘dog statement’ that he made. His visit angered Unnikrishnan’s father and the media too was with him throughout the process. The Chief Minister later regretted making that remark.