The November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks also known as 26/11 were a series of terrorist attacks by 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an extremist Islamist organisation based in Pakistan who carried out 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai. The ghastly attacks led to the death of 166 people and injuring over 300.
Rahul, son of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, had forged a friendship with Pakistani-American David Headley born Daood Sayed Gilani, who aided and conspired in a LeT plot to attack the country’s financial capital. They met during the latter’s visit to a gymnasium.
According to Headley’s testimony, he was fond of Bhatt and wanted to recruit him as an Inter-Services Intelligence agent. He had also warned Bhatt not to visit south Mumbai on November 26, the day when the Mumbai attacks were launched by ten Pakistani terrorists trained by the LeT.
In 2009, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had asked Rahul to not leave Mumbai. In 2013, Headley was sentenced to 35 years in jail by a United States court. Rahul said, “The jail term of 35 years is inappropriate. Headley should be extradited to India and made to stand trial in Mumbai. He should be made to rot in an Indian jail.”
Bhatt told Hindustan Times in 2018, “When I realized who Headley really was, I was told by my mother to go to the then joint commissioner of police and give my statement. My father asked me whether I was involved in anyway like Sanjay Dutt. He said he would disown me if I was involved in the wrongdoings.”
“I had to go through character assassination due to my association with Headley but now I can very proudly say that I have a clean record and there is not even a non-cognizable offence against me,” he added.
In 2008, after sailing to the city under the cover of darkness, the terrorists targeted major landmarks of Mumbai with the first attack taking place at the crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station.
Ajmal Amir Kasab and Ismail Khan carried out the attack at this station, killing as many as 58 people and injuring over 100.
Kasab and Khan later entered to attack Cama Hospital, but the same was thwarted with the alertness of the hospital staff. They, however, killed 6 police officials, including city’s Anti-Terrorism Squad Hemant Karkare in an ambush after leaving the hospital.
The second site of the attack was Nariman House business and residential complex where a Rabbi, his wife, and six others, including five Israeli citizens, were killed by the terrorists who first held them as a hostage.
The two-year-old child of the Rabbi couple, Moshe, survived in the attack. Then ‘Baby Moshe’ became a face of the innocent victims of ruthless terrorism.
In July 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Moshe during his visit to Israel. Later, in January 2018 the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on also met the survivor of 26/11, Moshe Holtzberg at Nariman House in Mumbai.
The third site to come under attack on 26/11 was the Leopold Cafe followed by Taj Mahal Hotel and Tower. Four terrorists carried out the attack at the famous cafe before entering the iconic Taj hotel, where they killed as many as 31 people after laying a three-day siege at the hotel.
The other site to come under attack during the 26/11 was Oberoi-Trident hotel where another group of two terrorists entered at almost the same time, as other four had entered Taj. At Oberoi-Trident hotel the siege officially ended on the evening of November 28 with as many as 30 being killed in the horrific attack.
The attack and seize finally culminated on the morning of November 29, 2008, after the National Security Guards (NSG) secured the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
By the time commandos of the National Security Guards (NSG) gunned down the last terrorists who had been holed up in south Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace hotel, over 160 people were killed and hundreds were left injured.
After the attack, it was established that the 10 terrorists had sailed to Mumbai from Pakistan’s port city, Karachi. Their voyage to Mumbai involved hijacking fishing dingy and killing four of the five men crew, leaving one occupant to ferry them to Mumbai coast.
In these gruesome attacks, 9 terrorists were killed and the lone survivor, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was caught and was sentenced to death at Yerwada Central Jail in Pune in 2012.The Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), whose mastermind was Hafiz Saeed, was believed to have plotted the 26/11 attacks.
Source: Free Press Journal