Pictures by Rons Bantwal
Daijiworld Media Network - Mumbai
Dawood link emerges
Mumbai, Nov 30: Intelligence agencies have launched a massive manhunt for a Mumbai based businessman - suspected to be a henchman of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim - who allegedly arranged arms and explosives for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists to conduct the terror attack in Mumbai.
The information came from Ajmal Amir Kamal, the terrorist hailing from Faridkot, Pakistan, who was captured by the agencies during the operation.
The businessman reportedly runs several custom clearing houses in Colaba, Mumbai.
Kamal told investigating agencies that his group was trained in two separate camps by the LeT in Pakistan; one for handling weapons and explosives, and another for marine warfare.
They were reportedly trained in marine commando techniques on Mangla Dam, a reservoir stretching between the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) to Punjab in Pakistan.
The terrorists chose the sea route because crossing the Line of Control was dangerous, it was revealed during the interrogations. The terrorists were given code names and were put in a merchant vessel, which brought them about 10 nautical miles from the Indian coast off Gujarat.
There, the group reportedly hijacked a fishing trawler Kuber and shot four out of its five or six sailors.
The captain of the trawler, identified as Balwant Tandel, was forced to take the vessel to the Mumbai coast.
After reaching about four nautical miles away, they tied his hands behind his back and slit his throat. Another person, Amarsinh Solanki, was beheaded.
The terrorists boarded into a motorised rubber dinghy, which brought them to the Mumbai shore at the Fishermen's Colony.
The bodies of four fishermen suspected to be crew members of the ship have been found from high seas off Gujarat.
The body of the captain was found from the trawler which was seized by Coast Guard off Mumbai coast.
A global positioning system was found on board the vessel, which was fed with a return map for Karachi, indicating that the terrorists were planning to escape back if luck favoured them.
After getting into the boats arranged by Dawood’s gang in Mumbai, arms, ammunition and plastic explosives were quickly transferred to the waiting dinghy that took the terrorists to the Gateway of India which was had been marked as the launching pad for the terror strike, sources said.
In small groups
Kamal also told investigators that on landing at Fishermen’s Colony, the men broke into small groups – two of them walked straight through a lane which opened in front of Nariman House at Colaba, four went further away towards the Taj Mahal.
Meanwhile, investigators were going through the call data details downloaded from the satellite phone recovered from the abandoned trawler. It revealed numbers that have been traced back to Muzammil, LeT's chief of operations.
The terrorists were in constant touch with their masters and some of the communications have been intercepted by both the Army as well as the National Security Guard.
The Taj and Trident-Oberoi were selected because the two hotels have a large clientele of British and US citizens, while Nariman House was selected as it was the Jewish Centre where many Israeli tourists come during their visit to India, Kamal told the police. The terrorists were also asked by their “masters” to engage the security personnel in negotiation besides throwing grenades.
Nation Pays Tribute to Mumbai Braveheart Heroes
Mumbai, Nov 29: The body of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, who was killed while leading from the front in the battle against terrorists attack in Mumbai was on Saturday brought to his home at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai ahead of the funeral.
The cremation was delayed so that his two daughters who live abroad could return in time for the last rites. While his elder daughter Jui is married and lives in the US, the younger Sayali is studying in London. His son Akash is based in Mumbai.
As terrorists Wednesday night targeted 10 Mumbai landmarks, Karkare donned his helmet and bullet-proof jacket and set out to take them on. The protection, however, proved inadequate and Karkare fell to the terrorists' bullets. In all, 148 people were killed in the attacks and 327 were injured.
The 58-year-old Karkare, a 1982 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, was in the spotlight for leading investigation into the Sep 29 blasts in Maharashtra's Malegaon town. Ten people, including Sadhvi Pragnya Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit, were arrested as a result of the probe.
Karkare had taken over the ATS in January after a seven-year stint with India's external intelligence agency Research Analysis Wing (RAW).
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, 31, was martyred while engaging terrorists on Friday at the Taj hotel. He was with the 51 Special Action Group of the force and was with the NSG on deputation. He has been with the Black Cat commando force for the last two years.
An officer of the Bihar Regiment, he was commissioned in the Indian Army in June 1999. The officer had joined the NSG on deputation in January 2007 after having served two tenures with his battalion in counter insurgency and counter terrorism roles. The officer hails from Bangalore where his father works for the Indian Space Research Organisation.
The funeral of the NSG Commando officer Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who laid down his life battling the terrorists in the Mumbai attacks, will be held with military honours.
Major Unnikrishnan body was brought to his house at ISRO layout in the outskirts of the Bangalore, where arrangements had been made for family, friends and well wishers to have a last glimpse of the Mumbai anti-terror hero.
NSG hawaldar: Gajendra Singh
The body of NSG hawaldar Gajendra Singh, who died fighting terrorists in Mumbai's Nariman House, was today brought to Delhi before being taken to his native place Dehradun for the last rites.
All ranks and file of the elite force gathered at NSG headquarters in Palam to pay their tributes to the slain hawaldar.
The body of Singh, who was a member of NSG's 51 Special Action Group, will be later taken to Dehradun, an NSG spokesperson said.
Battle Ends in Mumbai, Death Toll Rises to 195
The toll in the worst-ever terror attacks in India mounted to 195 as several bodies were fished out from the Trident hotel and Nariman House after the completion of the 59-hour-long commando operations.
The figure is expected to be much higher, as casualty figure from the Taj Mahal Hotel is yet to be known.
Sources in the disaster management cell of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said 195 people were killed, including 10 foreigners and 15 police personnel. Besides, 295 others were wounded.
The injured had been admitted to several hospitals in the city.
Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte, encounter specialist and Senior Inspector Vijay Salaskar were killed in the exchange of fire at Cama Hospital in south Mumbai on Wednesday night.
Apart from them, National Security Guards Major Sandeep Unnithan and two commandos died during the operation and a commando injured in the Nariman House battle.
The police said 10 terrorists were gunned down in the operation and another was injured. A large number of arms and ammunition were recovered from Trident hotel, Taj Mahal hotel and Nariman House.
Security forces freed the landmark Taj hotel here after an intense night-long firing amid a series of explosions, with three terrorists gunned down by the commandos, authorities said this morning.
"Three terrorists have been killed but we are still continuing our operations," Director General of NSG, J K Dutt, told reporters outside the hotel.
The operation to flush out terrorists from Taj Hotel is over, signalling an end to the 62-hour siege by terrorists three of whom were killed this morning in an assault by the elite commandos of National Security Guards (NSG).
However, the NSG is still sanitising the hotel to check if any remaining terrorist or explosive is still in the 400-room hotel, NSG Director General J K Dutt told reporters.
An AK-47 rifle was also recovered from them. "There was lot of shooting. Grenades were lobbed and explosives were used by the terrorists," he said.
On whether all the terrorists have been killed and hotel is now free, he said that it could be ascertained after the combing operation is over.
During the night, terrorists holed out in the hotel engaged in a fierce gun battle with security forces as some places in the first and the ground floors of the 565-room building set afire by terrorists amid explosions in the over 100-year-old heritage complex in the Colaba area.
No hostages alive at Taj Hotel: NSG
Vicky Nanjappa / Rediff
The siege at Taj Hotel may have ended, but unfortunately none of the hostages in the building have managed to survive.
An NSG source told rediff.com that by the time siege ended the NSG had managed to kill the terrorists holed up in the hotel, but could not save the hostages.
The senior NSG official said they were still not sure as to how many hostages were inside the hotel. It could be around 20 to 25, he added.
The terrorists had used the hostages as a human shield and were killing them one by one.
The last of the hostages was killed on Saturday morning, he said.
Meanwhile, the sanitation process is still on at the Taj. Search for bodies and possible survivors, if any, continues to take place. A message picked up from the wireless frequency indicated that some of the doors in the hotel were jammed.
Several dignitaries, including Tata group chairman Ratan Tata and Zee group honcho Subhash Chandra, visited the site. Subhash Chandra said the scene inside the hotel was very sad and it gave the feeling that the country was not safe.