26/11 Mumbai attack: 13 years later, Major Unnikrishnan remains a celebrated hero in Karnataka
Thirteen years have passed since the 26/11 Mumbai attack by Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. Along with bitter memories of the unprecedented violence, the bravery of Indian security personnel, especially of NSG commando, the late Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, is etched forever in the hearts of Indians.
Years after his martyrdom, he is still a celebrated hero in Bengaluru and across Karnataka. Major auto stands, many junctions, and a number of bus shelters in Bengaluru proudly display his photograph along with other national heroes, and his cutouts, posters, and banners can be seen in all major urban areas of the state.
A major arterial road has been named after him in Bengaluru too.
The 31-year-old Indian braveheart laid down his life for the country fighting Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists on November 28, 2008, and has become a symbol of inspiration, patriotism and sacrifice.
His family in Bengaluru is proudly looking ahead to the event of inauguration of their son`s bust in Kannamangala army base in Bengaluru on November 28, the day he made the supreme sacrifice for the country.
His father, K. Unnikrishnan, a retired ISRO officer, told IANS: "I am looking forward to the event as it is organised by army personnel. That is where Sandeep Unnikrishnan belongs. The function is going to be attended by jawans to lieutenant generals."
He said that it is a beautiful bronze, monolithic bust. "It is going to be a private function on November 28, the day Sandeep Unnikrishnan attained martyrdom." He said that the government and public response has been only growing since 13 years.
The second floor of the residence of Unnikrishnan had been converted as a little museum where all army belongings, including his uniform, were kept. People used to queue up for a glimpse of the hero`s belongings and pay respects to him. But it has been shut now.
"I have prohibited public entry to the archive now," his father said, adding that he didn`t like the way the photos are being put up on social media platforms.
His father proudly remembers his son`s attitude of winning in everything he did and how he liked Sachin Tendulkar. He would be disappointed when India lost a match, but he even used to console his father whenever an ISRO project failed.
Sandeep Unnikrishnan always cared for his fellow soldiers and helped them financially. His charitable nature was not known to the parents until his colleagues told them. "Though he got a decent salary, there wasn`t much money in his account. Sandeep was donating to many charitable institutions," his father said.
The last message from Sandeep Unnikrishnan while carrying out the operation to eliminate terrorists was: "Don`t come up, I will handle them." He soon laid down his life fighting against terrorists, but the bravery of the young NSG commando is still cherished by the army and his colleagues.
He was conferred the Ashok Chakra, the country`s highest peace time gallantry award on January 26, 2009.