26/11: Echoes of carnage linger after 10 years

26/11: Echoes of carnage linger after 10 years

Ten years have passed since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks took place but its memories refuse to fade away.

The fidayeen commando’s raid in Mumbai from 26-29 November, 2008, not only exposed the chinks in the armour of India’s security and intelligence set up, but also left a deep scar of being the worst-ever attack in any urban Indian city.

The event also changed forever the relations between India and Pakistan, from where the 10 Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives sailed on the Arabian Sea and launched an attack on India’s commercial capital.

Even though there was some sense of closure when Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist caught, was put to trial and hanged to death and David Coleman Headley, one of the chief planners, deposed before the court through video-conference, people who have lost their loved ones in the attack are yet to come to terms like Sharda Bhosale, the 60-year-old widow of martyred policeman Balasaheb Bhosale.

“Each year, around this time, she invariably falls ill over my father’s painful death and his memory. She remains like that for at least 5-6 days. The entire family shudders as the calendar changes to November,” Deepak Bhosale said.

“It was something worst that we had seen... And its a reminder of what we still face,” said security and intelligence analyst Shirish Inamdar, who is currently a visiting faculty in the Pune-based Maharashtra Intelligence and was then posted in the State Intelligence Department.

The terrorists targeted the world heritage building, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), Hotel Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Hotel Trident, Nariman House, Leopold Café, Cama & Albless Hospital and there were two bomb explosions - in Wadibunder and Vile Parle in the bomb planted in taxis. 

The attack left 166 dead and injured over 300 others.

“There is a clear imprint of Al-Qaeda and expertise of Lashkar-e-Toiba behind the Mumbai attack. The strike was to cause maximum damage,” says Col (retd) M P Choudhary, a veteran anti-terror expert.

The terrorists' trainers include Hafiz Saeed, the founder and chief of LeT, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the chief of operations of the terror group, Khafa, Abu Hamza and ex-Army officer Abdul Rehman alias Chacha.

The terrorists came armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, grenades and bombs and surprised everyone by launching an attack on a Wednesday night and sustained the assault till Saturday— close to 60 hours.

Had there not been an immediate retaliation, the damage would have been much more.

The operations were conducted under very difficult circumstances: the terrorists were heavily armed, there was a hostage situation, and the terrorists had the advantage of shield and height afforded by the tall buildings that they had entered.

It was only because of the efforts of police, armed police, Marine commandos of the Indian Navy and the NSG that the victory over the merchants of death was possible.

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