The 2008 Mumbai attacks, also known as the 26/11 attacks were one of the most horrible acts in the history of India.
Who isn’t aware of the attacks sponsored by Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out by 10 terrorists through bombings, mass firing, and grenades?
The black week of November 2008 has occupied a well-known position in the history of India which includes the Martyrdom of multiple Bravehearts, the disability of many, and trauma of horror in the minds of millions.
It was a time when the entire nation stood united. We won that battle at a very high cost. We lost many Bravehearts like Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Commissioner Ashok Kamte, Inspector Vijay Salaskar, ASI Tukaram Omble, and many more.
A thousand families lost the lamp of their life.
While many facts came out precisely by the government and the media, some untold stories didn’t acquire enough attention.
In this article, we will try to reveal, an untold story of the 26/11 attacks that you must know as a citizen of this holy land. The role of MARCOS commandos in the 26/ 11 Attacks.
The operation by MARCOS in the Hotel:
During the attacks on 26th November in the Taj Hotel, where many brave police officers lost their lives, it was understood that the terrorists were well trained and that it was not easy to kill them without any special force. Even the NSG commandos would take time to arrive from Delhi.
It was then that the special forces, the MARCOS were called in. MARCOS is a unique branch of Marine Commandos under the Indian Navy. The MARCOS are known for their remarkable operation management skills in unknown locations. These commandos are trained specially for countering terrorist attacks.
The only drawback in the current situation was that the MARCOS are professional in countering the attacks in an open space like a Jungle or Valley. To fight in a vast Hotel with many rooms, halls, alleys, lobbies, and corridors was never what MARCOS specialized in.
Praveen Kumar Teotia, the leading commando in the team, mentions in his book, “26/ 11 Braveheart: My encounter with The Terrorists that Night” that fighting in such a hotel was more like a ‘Jigsaw Puzzle’ for them.
Praveen Teotia was one of the MARCOS Commandos who was to kill the terrorists in the hotel room. The braveheart was given the role of “Point-Man” during the operation.
A Point Man is the one who leads the group. It is the ‘point man’ who has the highest risk and pressure involved during operations since he is the one who faces the terrorists in the first instance.
When Praveen Teotia entered the room on the 3rd floor, one terrorist noticed some movement in the dark. He immediately burst fired a few bullets from his gun. The situation was unfortunate, and the shot went straight through the ear of commando Praveen, and he became unconscious there and then.
What could be more unfortunate and unpredictable for a soldier?
After a few minutes, the commando got back to a conscious state. Upon realizing what had just happened, he first thanked God! Not for saving his life. But for granting him one more chance to serve the nation!
Yes. This is what Mr. Praveen Teotia revealed in an interview.
That’s the unbreakable spirit of an Indian Soldier!
Mr. Teotia was waiting for a few minutes to pass until his visibility in the dark gets established. During the course, he felt a deep pain near the ears. It was an uncontrollable pain. It was this pain that made the soldier come back to consciousness. The pain was so immense that one would feel as though their skin has been ripped apart, and the heat around is trying to have the exposed flesh.
Upon moving the hand towards the wound, it felt warm and wet. A liquid could be felt precisely. When touched more, it came out even more. It was Blood! The soldier was soaked with his warm blood.
Nevertheless, he was a braveheart who somehow managed to make not a single sound from his mouth that expressed his intense pain and gave the enemies any hint about his location.
To divert his attention, he grabbed the carpet below tightly. He waited for the right time. By now, he had realized that the situation was getting worse.
It was now that the commando could start thinking of an attack action. The commando with a massive and unbearable wound started locating his weapon that had fallen during the course.
Moving the hands here and there, he could finally feel something familiar! It was indeed the sling of his gun! He found his lifeline! Or I would say he found an organ of his own body! Yes, because to a soldier, his weapon is his everything!
Finding the weapon wasn’t a big task as it was to find a suitable ‘cover’ position to attack.
You are in a ‘cover’ position when you have an object beside you to take protection from.
Moving ahead slowly, Teotia found a Sofa near the wall having some space in between. This was indeed a good ‘cover’ position. He put his arms into ready by taking his shoulder’s support before making an attack.
Teotia now started firing. In response, a burst of fire greeted the soldier. Teotia was an experienced commando. He made a smart move. He kept changing his positions from time to time while firing towards the terrorists.
Sometimes he fired from the right, sometimes from the left, and sometimes from the top of the sofa. This was only to confuse the enemies and to manipulate them into thinking that there were two or more commandos in the room.
It continued for a couple of minutes. Both the sides exchanged bullets without anyone getting injured. Teotia had to engage himself in this until a few minutes before his team came in to attack the terrorists and rescue him.
Fifteen minutes had passed. Now Teotia understood the fact that this was not going to help. He decided to throw a hand grenade on the other side.
“Yes, grenade it should be” the soldier convinced himself!
Putting his hand in the pouch on the right of his waist, he equipped a grenade. It was a stun grenade. He kept that back, realizing that a stun grenade was no good in the current scenario.
He equipped the other one, which was the ‘Live’ grenade. Yes! This is what he wanted. A ‘live’ grenade is the most common grenade on the battlefield. The primary function of this grenade is to kill the enemy.
Pulling the pinout, he threw the grenade towards the other side. The grenade reached the right spot.
‘Ten, nine, eight….’ the soldier started counting. A complete silence occupied the inch-inch of the room.
Usually, live grenades explode in less than 10 seconds, but something was wrong here. The counting was over, but the grenade didn’t explode.
Mr. Teotia mentions in his book that after learning that the grenade was a faulty one (which is why it didn’t explode), he felt betrayed as a soldier.
He asked himself, “Is our Life so cheap? Who made this faulty grenade? Why wasn’t it audited?”
A deep sense of demotivation engulfed Teotia.
Teotia then thought of continuing the firing. As he fired a few bullets, a burst of shots came back at him as an answer.
The soldier kept on looking at the other side, expecting a movement. If any gesture happened, it would ease the soldier’s task.
Since Teotia could see the things on the other side, it was clear that the terrorists could see him too.
By now, the MARCOS team outside had concluded that Commando Praveen is no more. They now started manning the entry and exit to the room.
Now the commando came forward with another plan. It was to place the gun over the thighs and then fire.
Before he fired a single bullet, something completely unexpected happened. A tear gas shell came rolling into the room. It wasn’t an act of the terrorists. It was indeed hurled by the MARCOS team from outside.
The team had assumed that Commando Praveen was Martyred. This is why they thought of filling the room with smoke and choking the terrorists. But the commando was still present in the room and ALIVE!
Tear gases irritate the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs and cause tearing, coughing, burning, and stinging sensations, chest tightness, and difficulty in breathing.
Injured and alone, the soldier was now suffocating. Hardly able to breathe because of the lack of oxygen, the soldier started thinking about his end to come closer and closer.
Commando Teotia mentions in his book,
“A bullet injury had already drained my blood and a defective hand grenade had blown me apart psychologically. The tear gas was now proving to be the last nail in my coffin”.
“I cannot let myself die here. I know I will be dead soon, but I am a commando. I will not sit and wait for my death. I will take it to head-on.”
Such thoughts can only come in a true Indian soldier’s mind!
“Where death is standing right in front, but the heart wants to serve the nation till the last breath!“
The soldier had no option now. Time was passing quickly, and so was the oxygen in the air depleting.
The soldier, with full strength, quickly got up with his injured body, placing his weapon on the hip now and exposing his complete body to the terrorists. The plan was to keep shooting, and if the luck supports, he could come out of the room.
The soldiers reacted in a way that showed they were precisely waiting for this moment. They shot volleys of burst shots towards the commando.
The first bullet hit the magazine on the right side, tearing apart both the magazines. It didn’t stop there but entered the bullet-proof jacket and stopped just one millimeter from the body.
The second bullet ricocheted from somewhere and hit the soldier near the heart. This shot, fortunately, had a minimized intensity.
The third bullet tore open the collar and whizzed past the soldier’s neck. According to the soldier, the third bullet had still caused low damage when compared to the fourth one.
The fourth bullet was a shot that completely changed the soldier’s life forever. It hit the corner of the plate of the bullet-proof jacket, entered the chest, and exited from the other side. A terrible injury!
It broke the ribs of the soldier and punctured the lungs. The chances of surviving this attack looked bleak.
The commando somehow managed to reach the door.
He felt some hands pulling him. It was the hands of his fellow mates who stood outside the room.
The soldier was lying on the floor. Hardly able to breathe, unconscious and with a darkness that lay all around in front of his eyes.
He tried lifting his hands but could not. He tried speaking, but only his lips moved. The soldier could hardly hear something. Moving out of the Taj, he was welcomed by a crowd of media persons with mics, cameras, flashes, and noise all around.
From National and regional channels to newspapers publishers, everybody was trying to photograph and film the injured commando’s body laced with blood on every inch.
For the soldier, it was the darkest and the most unfortunate day of life while, for the media, it was nothing more than a TRP race.
- Commando Praveen Teotia and his team successfully rescued 150+ people and injured one terrorist severely.
- The soldier was awarded Shaurya Chakra in 2009 for his magnificent valour during the operation.
- In 2020, Praveen Teotia auctioned his medals to raise funds to contribute money to the PM cares Covid relief fund.
- He is the only person on the Earth to survive a massive Lung Puncture injury.