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October 20, 2017
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Book Review: BLACK TORNADO: THE THREE SIEGES OF MUMBAI 26/11

- By Sandeep Unnithan has a definitive book on the Mumbai terror attacks - Film Maker Madhur Bhandarkar, along with parents of martyred NSG Officer Major Unnikrishnan, launch the book.
Published: November 2014
 
Mumbai, 19th November 2014: Senior Journalist Sandeep Unnithan’s extensively researched book and first ever semi-official account of the deadliest terror attack on India,
titled BLACK TORNADO: THE THREE SIEGES OF MUMBAI 26/11 was released today.

 

At a sombre launch ceremony held at ICIA Gallery in Fort, Mumbai barely a kilometre from the scene of the actual attacks, film maker and prominent Mumbaikar Madhur Bhandarkar released the book along with the parents of Major Unnikrishnan, who lost his life fighting the terrorists.Speaking about the book, Sandeep Unnithan said that it was titled to mirror ‘Black Tornado’ – the name
given to the rescue operation mounted by the National Security Guard at three locations in Mumbai beginning on November 27, 2008. It is till date, India’s only counter-terrorist operation that involved the army, navy and air force.Unnithan’s book is the first semi-official account of this operation compiled after extensive interviews with all the security forces personnel – army, navy and air force – involved in the operation. This is the first time many of them have spoken about the Mumbai operations.

The narrative explains the reasons for the delayed arrival of the NSG [including incredible nuggets like the fact that Shivraj Patil wanted to fly in the NSG aircraft and that the Southern Army Commander toured the Taj with his wife while the operation was on ]. How a battle-hardened army unit located just two kilometers away from the operation was not pressed into the rescue. How the Marine Commandos were brought in to perform a heroic rescue operation at The Chambers only because the then Chief Secretary learned of their existence through a friend in the navy. Why the operations in the Taj Mahal palace were delayed. How the force overcame the sieges despite shortages
of manpower and equipment at multiple locations.

Unnithan said that the book held out critical learning for the political-defence establishments and if it helped India’s preparedness at any level, he would consider the book a success. Unnithan also suggested a memorial for those who lost their live in the attacks, and particularly those who died defending it.

Senior journalist and author Shankkar Aiyar, who moderated the launch said that this is the first book that takes you inside the three locations of what is possibly the world’s first/only multiple-siege terror strike. Besides relying on official documents of the operation, the book contains exclusive photographs of the shooting/gun
battle inside the Taj, the Oberoi and Nariman House. It has some controversial facts that have not come out so far.

About the author

Sandeep Unnithan is a senior journalist who writes on security related issues for India Today magazine. Currently based in Delhi, he hails from Mumbai and is a graduate of St. Xavier’s College. He has been a journalist for twenty years.

Sandeep has many firsts to his credit in the course of his journalistic career covering conflict zones, including being the only Indian journalist to have visited / filmed LTTE chief Prabhakaran’s bunker and among the first to visit a bombed out Al Qaida terrorist training camp in Afganistan in Dec 2001 and uncovering ‘Operation
Sundown’ a secret commando operation planned with the UK Special Air Services (SAS) at the Golden Temple in 1984.

Sandeep has earlier contributed a chapter in Hussain Zaidi’s immensely popular first book “Black Friday”.

The Mumbai attack has held his imagination. Not in the least because he has covered 600 km in a sail boat from Apollo Bunder, Colaba to Porbandar, Gujarat in 2004, the route that the ten terrorists were to cover four years later. Over the past two years, he has researched and pieced together the exact events of the fateful night from the perspective of the security forces.

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