Major Sandeep: Remembering the braveheart martyred during 26/11 attacksLast updated on Nov 28, 2017, 02:26 pm
"I don't want to die an ordinary death. When I go, the whole nation will remember me." These were Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's words to his father.
Eerily, this prophecy came true. 31-year old Sandeep faced his end, fighting terrorists single-handedly, during 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
On his 9th death anniversary, let's remember Sandeep who laid his life, so we could live in peace.
As a young boy, Sandeep wanted to join the army
Sandeep was born on March 15, 1977 to ISRO officer K. Unnikrishnan and Dhanalakshmi in Kerala. The family later shifted to Bengaluru, where Sandeep did his schooling from.
From the beginning, Sandeep was focused about joining the Army. He even attended school sporting a crew cut.
Peers and teachers remember Sandeep as a good athlete, who also excelled at quizzes, debates and academics.
Sandeep fulfilled his childhood dream, began serving the Indian Army
Sandeep cleared his National Defence Academy (NDA) written examination in 1995.
Interestingly, after the medical examination, due to his tall and lanky frame, Sandeep was told he was 6-8kgs underweight. He immediately took corrective actions to be deemed medically fit.
Sandeep was a part of the Oscar Squadron (No. 4 Battalion) and graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree from NDA's 94th course.
Sandeep was selected for the elite National Security Guards service
Sandeep served in the Indian Army in J&K and Rajasthan during counter-insurgencies. Incidentally, Sandeep also led a six-soldier team during the 1999 Kargil war. As part of Operation Vijay, he established forward posts in the face of heavy firing.
Subsequently, he was selected for NSG. After finishing his training, he was assigned to the Special Action Group (SAG) in 2007.
On 26/11, Sandeep entered Taj with his team
On 26th November, 2008, the 100-year old Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai was attacked by terrorists, among other iconic buildings in the city.
Sandeep entered the Taj as team commander of 51 SAG deployed to rescue the hostages.
The commandos reached the sixth floor using the staircase. They reached a door which wouldn't open with the master key. Thus, they broke down the door.
Sandeep ensured that his injured colleague was taken to safety
After pushing the door, they charged a grenade. Post a second of deafening silence, bullets were fired.
The 20-25 year old terrorist carried an AK-47 and wore a vest of grenades.
Commando Sunil Kumar Yadav was wounded in the ensuing gun-fight. Sandeep dragged him to safety and asked commando Babu Lal to take him back for first aid.
"Do not come up, I will handle them"
Until then, in the 9-hour search, this team had rescued 14 hostages.
Now, Sandeep ventured ahead unaccompanied. His last statement to his team was "Do not come up, I will handle them." He had already sustained an arm injury.
However, in the subsequent encounter, Sandeep was shot in the back; he later succumbed to his injuries.
Meanwhile, he had managed to wound a terrorist.
How do family, friends and colleagues remember Sandeep?
Sandeep's friends recall him as being "selfless, generous, calm and composed."
NSG commandos Rajvir Singh and Sunil Yadav say they owe their life to him.
For the unparalleled bravery shown by him during "Operation Black Tornado," Sandeep was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra.
Today, NSG commandos remember their "best buddy" and parents, their brave son. We, as his fellow citizens, salute Sandeep's great spirit!