Every sacrifice made while fighting the ghastly 26/11 Mumbai attack is worth a salute. However, two of them stuck with me. While the first one is well known, the second one is less known.
The sacrifice that changed the narrative
An intel reached the policemen stationed near Girgaon Chowpaty (beach) in Mumbai. Two terrorists drove in a white Audi from the Cama hospital towards the beach. Being a Wednesday, it was not overcrowded. However, the intel was sufficient to sweep the cops off their feet. Immediately, they closed the road.
The Audi came in! Even after repeated warnings from the cops, the terrorists did not budge into surrendering. As a last resort, the cops released a volley of bullets, bringing the car to a standstill. Carefully, the policemen approached the damaged Audi. The two terrorists were lying in the front seat. Suspecting that they were dead, a constable named Tukaram Omble opened the door.
Suddenly, one of the terrorists rose and released a volley of bullets from his AK 47. To save his colleagues, Tukaram took all the bullets onto himself. This sacrifice enabled the other cops to catch hold of the terrorist. Guess who was the man with AK 47? He was none other than Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorists caught alive on that dark night.
Now, why was Kasab’s arrest so important? Because he revealed the true identity of his group, which otherwise was to be masked under the garb of an Indian organisation through fake Ids. If Tukaram Omble did not sacrifice himself, a different narrative would have been set for years to come.
Don’t come up, I will handle them
Two days later, the NSG commandos lead by Major Gen Sandeep Unnikrishnan entered Mumbai to slay the terrorists. The lead commando could have avoided the battle since he was on a leave for a friend’s marriage. Yet he decided to enter the battlefield! He could have avoided death by staying back, sending his colleague to his death. However, he chose to face death!
“I won’t let the mother of my colleague get bereft of her son, even if my mother has to face the same,” Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan used to say. These weren’t mere words. After locating the terrorists in Taj Mahal hotel, he stopped his colleague to face the heat of the battle and said ‘Don’t come up, I will handle them’ and the rest is history.
Greatness is not about superhuman skills or feats. It is not about riches. It is not about possessing power. Even a criminal holding a gun possesses the power. Greatness lies in your ability to go beyond your comfort zones. It lies in going beyond the call of duty. This is the greatness, which reminds us of those heroes after a decade and this is my token of respect for all the martyrs of 26/11 Mumbai Attack.