“Do not come up, I will handle them”

Posted: January 26, 2010 in General

Sandeep Unnikrishnan

Today 26th Jan, we (INDIANS) are celebrating 61st Republic day. I salute all our great heros who gave their lives for our motherland. Here is the story of one our hero Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan.

Sandeep Unnikrishnan (March 15, 1977 – November 28, 2008) was a Major in the Indian Army serving in the elite National Security Guards (NSG). He was killed in action while fighting terrorists in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. His bravery was honoured with the Ashoka Chakra on 26 January 2009.
“Do not come up, I will handle them”, were probably the last words which Major Unnikrishnan told his men as he was hit by bullets  while engaging well armed terrorists inside the Taj Hotel, Mumbai during Operation Black Tornado.
Later, NSG sources clarified that when a Commando got injured during the operation, Major Unnikrishnan arranged for his evacuation and started chasing the terrorists himself. The terrorists escaped to another floor of the hotel
and during the chase Major Unnikrishnan was seriously injured and succumbed to his injuries

Childhood:

Major Unnikrishnan spent 14 years at the Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore, graduating in 1995 in the ISC Science stream. A popular figure among his contemporaries, he wanted to join the Army, even attending school in a crew cut. Being a good athlete, he was active in school activities and sports events. Most of his athletic records in school remained unbroken for years after his leaving the school. He described himself as a movie maniac in his orkut profile.Besides his display of courage from a young age he had a soft side to him and was a member of the school choir.

Army career

Sandeep joined the National Defence Academy (NDA) in 1995. He was a cadet, part of the Oscar Squadron (No. 4 Battalion) and a pass-out of the 94th Course of NDA. He graduated as a Bachelor of Arts (Social science stream).His NDA friends remember him as “selfless”, “generous” and “calm and composed”.

In 1995, we were a bunch of gangly 18-year-olds, wondering what the hell we were doing climbing up Sinhgad fort on a miserable, rainy day, when I first met Unni. He was an ikki, a first termer, bone-weary, but always gung-ho. When we made it to the top, the first stop was for a fill of water. Soggy, bushed and thirsty, we ran to the natural spring that has been feeding soldiers since the days of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Unni was the first to reach and started drawing water from the well. We lined up with our canteens, but a tourist first held out her water bottle. Unni filled it. Then, another. Unni filled that too. Within seconds, there was a long line of tourists waiting for water. Without a word – and with a smile to us – Unni dutifully doled out his generosity. He never got to us. He himself never got a sip. The order came to move on.

– An NDA coursemate

His happy-go-lucky face masked a ruthless and determined soldier, so did his thin physique hide a tough, never-give-up spirit that was seen in various training camps and cross country races he participated in with in the NDA.

He was commissioned as Lieutenant to the 7th Battalion of the Bihar Regiment (Infantry) on July 12, 1999. After serving the Indian Army in different locations in Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan to counter insurgencies for two terms, he was selected to join the National Security Guards.

On completion of training, he was assigned to the Special Action Group (SAG) of NSG on January 2007 and participated in various operations of the NSG. He was a popular officer who was loved and adored by his seniors and juniors alike. During the ‘Ghatak course’ (at the Commando Wing (Infantry School), Belgaum), the most difficult course of the Army, Major Unnikrishnan topped the course, earning an “Instructor Grading” and commendation from seniors.

Perhaps this was the reason or his passion for bravery that he opted for the NSG commando service which he joined on deputation in 2006. During Operation Vijay in Kargil on the evening of December 31, 1999, Major Sandeep led a team of six soldiers and managed to establish a post 200 metres from the enemy and under direct enemy observation and fire.

Operation Black Tornado

On the night of 26 Nov 2008, several iconic buildings in South Mumbai were attacked by terrorists. One of the buildings where the terrorists held people hostage was the 100-year old Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
Major Unnikrishnan was the team commander of 51 SAG deployed in the operation at the Taj Mahal Hotel to rid the building of terrorists and rescue the hostages. 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 sensed the terrorists on the third floor.
The terrorists had held a few women as hostages in a room and locked it from the inside. After breaking open the door, the round of fire by the terrorists hit Commando Sunil Yadav, who was Major Unnikrishnan’s buddy partner.Major Unnikrishan led his team from the front and engaged the terrorists in a fierce gunfight. He arranged for Commando Sunil Yadav’s evacuation and regardless of personal safety, chased the terrorists who, meanwhile, escaped to another floor of the hotel, and while doing so Major Sandeep continuously engaged them. In the encounter that followed, he was shot from the back, seriously injured and succumbed to injuries.

His last word was: “Do not come up, I will handle them”

Salutations to the brave Indian soldiers who gave their lives for their motherland. Hats off you all!

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