“Don’t come up, I’ll handle them”, these were the last words of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who laid down his life while protecting his motherland during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
26/11: A night hard to forget
India has survived many terrorists’ attacks, but the 26/11 Mumbai attacks are hard to forget. 10 terrorists, backed by the terrorist group Lashkar-E-Taiba entered the territory of India and open fired at several prime locations in Mumbai. The Pakistan based terrorists wreaked havoc over multiple venues in India’s commercial capital for four days. Every person whether at home, office or anywhere else was glued to the television to see what will happen next.
Among them were also the family members of forces who were fighting for the lives of the people who were held as hostages inside the hotel.
The attacks claimed the lives of around 160 people and left hundreds injured. One such name was of NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who laid down his life while protecting his motherland.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan: An inspiration till today
March 15, marks the 45th birthday of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, a commando who sacrificed his life battling the terrorists.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was born to an ISRO officer K.Unnikrishnan, who originally belonged to Kerala. The family later shifted to Bengaluru, where Major Sandeep grew up. He joined the National Defence Academy, Pune in 1995 and was a part of the Oscar squadron and a graduate of 94th course NDA. He was commissioned as Lieutenant in the Bihar regiment in 1999 after he graduated from IMA, Dehradun.
He was assigned the role of training officer of the 51 Special Action Group (51 SAG) of the National Security Guards (NSG) on 20 January 2007.
The battle of 26/11 fought by NSG
After the deadly terror attack began in Mumbai in 2008, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan along with a group of 10 commandos was tasked to rescue the hostages held by the terrorists inside the Taj Mahal Hotel in south Mumbai.
The commando operation launched on 27th November 2008 to flush out the terrorists from Taj was led by Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. He was at the forefront of the fight till November 28, and 14 hostages were rescued.
During the rescue operation his team was caught under hostile firing, in which one of his team members got severely injured. Without caring for his life, Major Unnikrishnan went on to rescue the injured commando, in the process he was hit by a terrorists’ bullet in his right arm.
While clearing the rooms, Major Unnikrishnan located the hostages and in spite of the darkness and indiscriminate firing from the terrorists, he stormed inside all alone, to eliminate the terrorists and rescue the hostages. He was fatally wounded and later martyred. Subsequently, the terrorists were neutralized by his team, as they were already cornered. For his supreme sacrifice, Major Unnikrishnan was posthumously awarded with Ashok Chakra, the country’s highest peace time gallantry award.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan: A hero and a son
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan is survived by his mother SMT Dahnalakshmi Unnikrishnan and father K.Unnikrishnan. Though, their son has laid his life, but in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Unnikrishnan, the presence of Major Sandeep can be felt even today. The second floor of the Unnikrishnan residence has been converted into a museum where all the army belongings, including his uniform are kept.
A multi lingual film titled ‘Major’ is being made in his name that may hit the theatres on 27th May 2022, starring Adivi Sesh as the brave warrior. Such was the valor of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan that even after 13 years of his martyrdom, he is still an inspiration for many.