"Do not come up, I will handle them", were his last words when he moved up and kept fighting till the end during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. The courageous officer was none other than NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan who rewrote a new sage of heroism setting an example of courage and qualities expected from officers of Indian Army. His death was mourned by entire nation. He was awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India's highest peace time gallantry award, on 26 January 2009.
The ghastly attack of 26/11 apart from death and destruction will always be remembered for the sacrifices made by our security forces in bringing Mumbai out from the clutches of dreaded terrorists who wreaked havoc across the city. Though they were soon overpowered but not without paying price. Some of the bravest officers of Mumbai Police and elite Special Action Group lost their life. The loss of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan at the Taj came as a rude shock to the nation. He died fighting inside the Taj Palace during Operation Black Tornado. People assembled across the city to pay last respect to their savior whose body was flown to his hometown Bangalore for final journey.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was born on 15 March 1977 in a Malayali Nair family which had moved to Bangalore from Cheruvannur, Kozhikode district, Kerala many years ago. He came from a well-educated family and was only son of ISRO officer K. Unnikrishnan and Dhanalakshmi Unnikrishnan. Unnikrishnan spent 14 years at the Frank Anthony Public School in Bangalore before graduating in 1995 in the ISC Science stream. He was a bright student and equally performed well in academics and sports.
Life as an Young Army Officer
He graduated from the National Defence Academy (94th Course, Oscar Squadron) and later was commissioned as a lieutenant into the 7th Battalion of the Bihar Regiment (Infantry) on 12 July 1999. After serving the Indian Army in different hostile locations of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan for two terms, he was selected to join the National Security Guards. On completion of training, he was assigned to the Special Action Group (SAG) of NSG on January 2007 and participated in various operations of the NSG. Resolute and determined from beginning he topped the 'Ghatak course' the most difficult course of the Army conducted at Infantry School in Belgaum). He opted for the NSG commando service which he joined on deputation in 2006. He also participated in Kargil war against Pakistan.
Operation Black Tornado
During 26/11 elite National Security Guards were the first specialized force to corner the terrorists. After getting details that terrorists held many people as hostage in locked rooms of Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Major Unnikrishnan alongwith his team of 10 SAG stormed the hotel to rescue the people. After locating the movements of terrorists at third floor they took positions. Once there, they soon realized that innocent lives are held as hostages in a room locked from the inside. He alongwith his commandos broke open the door and with it a heavy rounds of firing injuring his colleque Commando Sunil Yadav. After evacuating Yadav he bravely chased terrorists who escaped to another floor of the hotel. After reaching that floor another round of encounter followed. Despite being hit by bullets he kept fighting till the end and eventually lost his life. His last message to men under him was Do not come up, I will handle them, has now become an epitome of bravery.
Crowd swelled outside his Bangalore residence to pay their last respect. Mourners chanted "Sandeep Unnikrishnan Amar Rahee", “Long Live Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan”. His funeral was held with full military honours. For his supreme sacrifice, Unnikrishnan was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India's highest peace time gallantry award, on 26 January 2009.
Parents: K. Unnikrishnan and Dhanalakshmi Unnikrishnan
(FAN OF Major SANDEEP UNNIKRISHNAN)
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