The National Security Guard officer, who shall go unidentified on his request, quietly left the wedding reception. He was soon headed for Mumbai, where the most daring terrorist strike in the history of India was unfolding. ‘26/11’, as the three-day attack has come to be called, shocked the country and the world. It was our 9/11.
For three days, the world watched and heard grenades explode, NSG commandos slither down a rope from a helicopter, a dead terrorist roll out of a window and rescued hotel guests walk out dazed and exhausted.
TRYST WITH TERROR
8 bombs go off in crowded markets and streets outside Hindu temples, killing 68
7 small bombs kill 2 in India’s technology hub
About 17 small bombs explode across the city, killing 50
6 explosions in crowded shopping areas kill 28 and wound 100
5 people died after a bomb kept on a motorbike went off in a crowded market
17 killed in a powerful blast near the Manipur Police Commando complex
At least 77 killed and over 100 injured in 18 terror bombings across the state
Gun and grenade attacks across Mumbai kill at least 173 civilians
When it all ended late on November 28, 173 people were dead, mostly Indians but also a lot of foreigners. Nine of the 10 terrorists — all from Pakistan — also died. The 10th is in the custody of Mumbai police, talking about how they did it.
India had overcome one more terrorist strike.
The second half of 2008 was especially eventful, logging one terrorist strike almost every month, and sometimes two. Each strike was followed by sadness that quickly gave way to anger and then helplessness.
The first of the year’s terrorist strikes happened on May 13, in Jaipur, a city popular with foreign tourists. Sixty-eight people died. Indian Mujahideen, a little know terrorist outfit, sent an email claiming responsibility. This was followed by Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Malegaon, Imphal and Assam.
Indian Mujahideen figured in most of them until they were caught and shot under what continues to be called ‘controversial circumstances’ in Delhi.
Malegaon turned out to be quite another story, however. Investigators of the Mumbai Anti Terror Squad unearthed a group of Hindu fundamentalists, which was found to have earlier done the Samjhauta Express and Ajmer Sharif blasts. They were caught. Indian Mujahideen men were caught and shot. And the Mumbai attackers were killed, all except one.
India beat them back.