Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, after graduating from the National Defence Academy (NDA) joined the 7th Battalion of the Bihar Regiment (Infantry) in 1999. Later, he was selected to join the National Service Guard. He topped the “Ghatak course”, the most difficult course of the Army, earning him an “instructor grading” and commendation.
On the fateful night of 26th November 2009, the iconic Taj was under siege. Major Unnikrishnan, who was then at the NSG hub in Manesar, Haryana had just learned about the death of the ATS Chief Hemant Karkare. Major Unnikrishnan, who had topped the Ghatak course, was already an instructor for the NSG. He volunteered for the Mumbai Operation (Operation Black Tornado) when the NSG men informally assembled at the NSG hub.
After a day-long operation, the hostages, guests, and staff of the tower wing were almost evacuated. on 27th Nov, well past dusk when Major Unnikrishnan decided to go up the palace wing, to rescue an employee hiding in the data center office. Major Unnikrishnan and his companion NSG commando Sunil Yadav had barely reached the first-floor landing that there was heavy firing from the gunmen.
Commando Yadav had taken seven bullets in the firing, injuring him gravely, but not fatally. Major Unnikrishnan engaged in a firefight while arranging for Yadav’s evacuation.
“Don’t come up, I will handle them.”, were his exact words before chasing the terrorist to the next floor, followed by heavy firing, which proved to be fatal for Major Unnikrishnan.
“I had heard the neighboring occupant pleading. They shot him anyway!” recollects a guest. Paralyzed with fear he had refrained from opening the door even after repeated knocks. “We are the NSG”, the person at the door told him. “Then I opened the door and my hours of shock evaporated in an instant—he was so calm,” said while talking about Major. He drew a sachet of water and apple and scanned his laptop on the guest’s request and was ensconced in a police vehicle outside. This was the sole time they met.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was celebrated with the Ashok Charkra in 2009.
Lest Shall We Forget…
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