New Delhi: “I don’t want to die an ordinary death. When I go, the whole nation will remember me.”
These were the words uttered by Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan to his father when he had just joined the National Security Guard (NSG) as a part of the elite Special Action Group.
On November 26, 2008, Major Unnikrishnan got his wish. 26/11 will always be remembered for the courage displayed by our security forces in overcoming the siege at the Taj Mahal hotel, Oberoi and Chabad House in Mumbai.
Unnikrishnan was instrumental in rescuing 14 hostages from the clutches of terrorists who had swarmed the Mumbai hotel and killed hundreds of people.
On that fateful day, he entered the hotel in a group of 10 commandos and reached the sixth floor through the staircase. As the team descended the stairs, they suspected perpetrators on the third floor.
A few women were held as hostages in a room which was locked from the inside. After breaking open the door, the round of fire by the perpetrators hit Commando Sunil Yadav, Unnikrishnan's colleague.
Unnikrishnan engaged the perpetrators in a gunbattle. He arranged for Yadav's evacuation for first aid.
Meanwhile, he chased the terrorists, who had escaped to another floor of the hotel. In the encounter that followed, he was shot from the back before later succumbing to his injuries.
According to NSG officials, his final words were, “Don't come up. I will handle them.”
March 15 marks Late Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's 41st birth anniversary. Not only should every Indian know his name, but also know the life of this martyr who died for his countrymen.
- Sandeep Unnikrishnan always wanted to join the Indian army. He even sported a crew cut in school
- According to his cousin, Sandeep was scared of water but learned how to swim when he joined the Indian Army.
- According to his friends and teachers, he was a good athlete who was active in school activities and sports events. He was also a member of the school choir and enjoyed watching movies.
- Unnikrishnan joined the National Defence Academy (India) (NDA), Pune, Maharashtra in 1995. He was a part of the Oscar Squadron (No. 4 Battalion) and a graduate of the 94th Course of NDA. He graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Arts.
- His friends at the National Defence Academy have often recalled him as selfless, generous, calm, and composed.
- After serving the Indian Army in different locations in Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan during counter insurgencies for two terms, he was selected to join the National Security Guards.
- Unnikrishnan topped the 'Ghatak course' (at the Commando Wing (Infantry School), Belgaum), the most difficult course of the Army, earning an "Instructor Grading" and commendation. He opted for the NSG commando service which he joined on deputation in 2006.
- He died at the age of 31 after being shot by terrorists during the horrific 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
- Major Unnikrishnan's funeral was held with full military honours.
- He was awarded the Ashok Chakra, India's highest peace time gallantry award, on 26 January 2009.
The official citation for the Ashoka Chakra Award reads:
IC-58660 MAJOR SANDEEP UNNIKRISHNAN BIHAR REGIMENT/51 SPECIAL ACTION GROUP (POSTHUMOUS)
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan led the commando operation launched on 27th November 2008 to flush out terrorists from Hotel Taj Mahal, Mumbai in which he rescued 14 hostages.
During the operation, his team came under intense hostile fire, in which one of his team members got grievously injured. Major Sandeep pinned down the terrorists with accurate fire and rescued the injured commando to safety. In the process, he was shot in his right arm. Despite his injuries, he continued to fight the terrorists till his last breath.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan displayed most conspicuous bravery besides camaraderie and leadership of the highest order and made the supreme sacrifice for the nation.
- The Mother Dairy Double Road in Bangalore, a 4.5 km road from Federal Mogul on Doddaballapur Road to MS Palya junction, was renamed Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan Road in his honour.
- The Ramamurthy Nagar-Outer Ring Road Junction in Bengaluru, here a bust of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan is installed and the junction is named in his honour.
Here's how the nation is remembering the hero who sacrificed his life and has now become an epitome of bravery:
Paying tributes to the proud son of India, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan on his birth anniversary. His bravery, service & spirit of sacrifice will always inspire us. pic.twitter.com/dy0vcMpSz3
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) March 15, 2018
And The Rest Is History...
— #AkhilNikunj (@befikrame) March 15, 2018
Remembering braveheart, martyr Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan on his birth anniversary. His valour, courage and spirit will always remain an inspiration pic.twitter.com/qhlGAV0MhV
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) March 15, 2018
"The respect that one gets in the Armed forces, one does not get anywhere” said Sandeep when his parents asked him why he decided to join Indian Army.
Tribute to d proud son of India Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan on his birth anniversary. Today he would have turned 41yrs. pic.twitter.com/cWXrhDifjM
— Mujaid Alam Bakerwal (@alam_mujaid) March 15, 2018
Remembering martyr Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan on his birth anniversary. His valour & courage will always be an inspiration. I salute his supreme sacrifice. pic.twitter.com/6OVuPX3Pqo
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) March 15, 2018
Remembering the brave son of Mother India, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan on his Birth anniversary. He gave supreme sacrifice in action during Nov-2008 Mumbai attacks. He was consequently awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India's highest peace time gallantry award, on 26 Jan 2009. #Respect pic.twitter.com/UdM3VPU8E8
— maHesh herambHa (@MahiHerambha) March 15, 2018
Sandeep Unnikrishnan's death was a major cause of sorrow to people throughout the nation and many people openly mourned his death while taking to the streets. There were thousands who stood outside the Bangalore residence of Unnikrishnan to pay their last respect. Many mourners shouted slogans during his funeral “Long Live Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan” and “Sandeep Unnikrishnan Amar Rahe”.