January - March 2009




 The current issue

 Editor's Note

 Mumbai 26/11

 Five Main Targets

 - Leopold Cafe

 - CST

 - Nariman House

 - The Oberoi Hotels

 - The Taj Hotels

 Heroes at the Taj


 Two Men & a City

 - Hasan Gafoor

 - Jyoti Krishan Dutt


 Mumbai 26/11
 Lessons Learnt


 Tolerance Targeted
 in Mumbai

 Parsis & Jews of


 Deccan Odyssey

 Bombay to Mumbai


 Taj - Mumbai's
 much-loved icon



 the print gallery

 the art gallery

 gurgaon property








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Mumbai 26/11

Mumbai’s Bloody ‘Wednesday’

The five main targets - Leopold Cafe, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, The Taj Palace & Tower Hotel

Nariman House, and The Trident, Nariman Point & The Oberoi, Mumbai

506 nautical miles from Mumbai, a 10-man team of terrorists left Karachi (Pakistan’s premier coastal city) on a cargo ship, then hijacked an Indian fishing trawler, killed the crew except for the captain, who was murdered just off the coast of Mumbai, when they boarded inflatable boats which brought them ashore under cover of dark at around 9.00pm local time, perhaps at two different sites in the southern part of the city. There they grouped themselves in pairs of five kill teams to wreck havoc upon an unsuspecting city. The multiple teams attacked multiple targets at the same time, using multiple tactics. Many of the city’s residents were watching, on their large or small screens, a cricket match being played between India and the visiting England team. India won. Many were at the city’s busiest railway station, in a rush to get home, or waiting to board a train. Many were out with family and friends for dinner or drinks. Many were just strolling. It was like any other mega city trying to unwind on a weekday. It was Wednesday, November 26, 2008.

The terrorists took taxis to their marked destinations, left time bombs inside these taxis before getting off, and quickly attacked large groups of people using AK-47s and grenades. One team walked to Nariman House – a short 10 minute walk. The taxis exploded soon after, killing two drivers and one bystander.

The heavily armed youngsters, carrying assault rifles, pistols and hand grenades, were in their early 20s. They were wearing the global uniform of youth – jeans and T-shirts - and spoke Urdu, Hindi and some English. All were carrying a rucksack and Rs. 6000 in Indian currency. Evidence suggests that the attacks were masterminded, planned and executed by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a terrorist group based in Pakistan. Their objective was to hurt India where it hurts most. Mumbai is the financial, commercial, and celebrity hub of India. It also has a thriving film and small-screen industry. The millionaire density in the city is highest in India.

The meticulously planned and coordinated attacks were all carried out between 9.30 – 9.45pm. The first round of attacks took place at 9.27pm at the Leopold Cafe and Bar – a popular eating joint on Colaba Causeway, one of Mumbai’s busiest thoroughfares. Minutes later, another team, we now know, made up of 21-year-old Mohammad Aslam Kasab – the only terrorist known to have been captured (by the Mumbai Police)and his mate Ismail Khan, arrived by taxi at the CST railway station, entered the main hall, and began firing on people indiscriminately. The gunfire and grenades killed as many as 50 people. As soon as the police force arrived at the site, Khan and Kasab ran out of the station, shot three policemen, took a police van and drove to the Cama and GT hospitals, firing as they went, with police in pursuit. It was here that the pair shot dead the Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare and another senior officer. From the hospital, they fled in another vehicle, and in an encounter with the police at Chowpatty in south Mumbai, Kasab was nabbed and disarmed of his assault rifle by an unarmed policeman ASI Tuka Ram Ombale, who clung on to him even in death as five bullets were pumped into his head by Kasab’s partner Khan. The policemen killed Khan and captured Kasab - the sole surviving terrorist. The gunmen used the Hit and Run tactic at CST, and Cafe Leopold and created panic and confusion while the other teams moved into the hotels and the Jewish Centre.

At the Oberoi/Trident, Taj and Nariman House, they immediately started indiscriminate firing and took hostages, most of whom were killed or executed soon after. They used the knowledge of the layout of these buildings to establish strong-points against security – the method here was Seize and Hold - 32 people died in Oberoi, 31 at the Taj, and 7 at Nariman House.

The iconic Taj Mahal Palace, which bore the brunt of the attack and destruction, and The Oberoi Mumbai are the core of the city’s five-star culture, popular spots for Mumbai’s rich, famous and the powerful and also with foreign visitors. These were the ideal targets for terrorists – high-profile yet soft and vulnerable – and guaranteed instant international media coverage.

Mumbai police requested deployment of commandos within 2-3 hours of the situation.NSG Commandos arrived at Mumbai airport at 5.00am on 27 November. Oberoi Trident and Taj Tower were secured the same day, Nariman House and Oberoi on 28th and Taj Heritage on 29th morning.

The November 26, 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai killed at least 172 people and injured close to 400 – most were killed on the first night of the attack. This was not the first time Mumbai had come under the terrorist radar. The July 2006 train blasts had killed 209 people and injured 700, but what made 26/11 different was the scale of the coordinated attacks at multiple and diverse targets. The siege of terror continued for 60 hours - a trauma shown live by the news media – at times irresponsibly.

  The five main targets were Leopold Cafe & Bar, CST, Nariman House, Oberoi and the Taj complexes.



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