|Famous For||Being martyred in action during the 2008 Mumbai attacks|
|Physical Stats & More|
|Height (approx.)||in centimeters– 178 cm
in meters– 1.78 m
in feet & inches– 5’ 10”
|Unit||51 Special Action Group for NSG|
|Years of Service||1999-2008|
|Awards, Honours, Achievements||Ashoka Chakra on 26 January 2009|
|Date of Birth||15 March 1977 (Tuesday)|
|Date of Death||28 November 2008 (Friday)|
|Place of Death||Mumbai|
|Age (at the time of death)||31 Years|
|Death Cause||Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan lost his life when he went against the terrorists alone in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. The terrorists opened fire on him; causing fatal injuries to his body. His body was found the next day in a pool of blood with several bullet wounds. Rediff|
|School||The Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore|
|College/University||National Defence Academy, Pune|
|Relationships & More|
|Marital Status (at the time of death)||Married|
|Parents||Father– K. Unnikrishnan (retired ISRO officer)
Mother– Dhanalakshmi Unnikrishnan
Some Lesser Known Facts About Sandeep Unnikrishnan
- Sandeep Unnikrishnan was an Indian Army Officer who laid down his life during the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks. He was born in a Malayali family from Kozhikode, Kerala. Later, the family moved to Bangalore.
- Since his school days, Sandeep had a simple crew cut, and he showed interest in joining the Indian Army. After finishing his schooling at The Frank Anthony Public School, Sandeep joined the National Defence Academy in 1995 from where he graduated as a lieutenant. He was then commissioned in the 7th Battalion of the Bihar Regiment (infantry) on 12 June 1999. The Gazette of India
- Sandeep was a part of the Kargil War of 1999. He stood at the forward posts with his team; facing heavy artillery firing, and small arm firing from Pakistani troops. Later, in December 1999, he managed to set up a post just 200m away from the opposite side.
- Sandeep was promoted to the rank of a captain on 12 June 2003, and to a major on 12 June 2005. In 2006, Sandeep Unnikrishnan decided to join the National Security Guards (NSG), and after completing the training, he became a part of the Special Action Group (SAG) of the NSG. During the training period, Sandeep topped the ‘Ghatak Course,’ which is considered one of the toughest training courses in the Indian Army. On completion, he earned the ‘Instructor’ grading and commendation.
- Sandeep Unnikrishnan was asked to report for duty on 27 November 2008 in Mumbai. Several iconic buildings of Mumbai were attacked on 26 November 2008, and one such building was the 100-year-old Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Sandeep was leading a team of the NSG commandos, and the task was to rescue all the hostages from the hotel and clear the area for further protocols. While looking for the hostages, one of Sandeep’s colleagues, Sunil Kumar Yadav, was shot in both of his legs as the terrorists rushed through a room.
- Later, Sandeep made arrangements for his colleague Sunil Kumar Yadav’s evacuation, and he decided to go after the terrorists alone. Following the tracks of the terrorists, Sandeep reached another floor of the hotel where he was caught off guard, and he got shot in the back. He lost his life because of blood loss caused by multiple injuries and bullet wounds. According to the NSG officials, his last words were-
Do not come up, I will handle them,”
- The news of his death was shared after a day as the search operation for hostages was still going on, and the terrorists were trapped in the building. After the targets were neutralized and hostages were saved, the news got out. His funeral was held with full military honour, and on the day of his funeral, mourners present there chanted
Sandeep Unnikrishnan Amar Rahe.”
- Following his death, a 4.5 km stretch of road between Federal-Mogul on Doddaballapur Road and MS Palya junction was renamed as Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan Road, earlier, the road was known as The Mother Dairy Double Road in Bangalore. A bust of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was installed on the Ramamurthy Nagar Outer Ring Road junction in Bengaluru in November 2012. Later, his bust was also sculpted at the entrance of the Indian Education Society on Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road, Mumbai. However, the sculpture in Bengaluru got destroyed in September 2018 after a mini-truck lost its control and crashed into the structure.
- On 26 January 2009, Sandeep’s mother, Dhanalakshmi Unnikrishnan, received the Ashoka Chakra from the President of India Pratibha Patil. The official citation for the Ashoka Chakra award reads-
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan led the commando operation launched on 27th November 2008 to flush out terrorists from Hotel Taj Mahal, Mumbai in which he rescued 14 hostages.
During the operation, his team came under intense hostile fire, in which one of his team members got grievously injured. Major Sandeep pinned down the terrorists with accurate fire and rescued the injured commando to safety. In the process, he was shot in his right arm. Despite his injuries, he continued to fight the terrorists till his last breath.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan displayed most conspicuous bravery besides camaraderie and leadership of the highest order and made the supreme sacrifice for the nation.” Press Information Bureau
- K Mohanan was Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s uncle, and they both shared a very close bond together. His uncle committed suicide by setting himself on fire in front of the Parliament in February 2011. By the time medical help reached and his treatment began, his body had burned 98%, and he suffered a heart attack during the treatment and couldn’t survive. He left a suicide note in which he said-
The administrators and representatives of the political parties could not do anything for the victims of 26/11 attack… Was it actually a war against two nations? Was the decision taken by the government after the Kandhahar incident a cause for Mumbai attack? Sandu mon, (Sandeep Unnikrishnan) you are forgotten with every passing day, but I can’t.”
- The incident of the 26/11 attacks inspired many filmmakers to bring the horrific tale of the incident in the form of films including ‘The Attacks of 26/11’ (2013) directed by Ram Gopal Varma, and a ZEE5 web series ‘Operation Black Tornado’ (2018), etc.
- In 2020, Sony Pictures Entertainment registered two titles called ‘Major’ and ‘Major Sandeep’ with the producers association to make a biopic on the life of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. The film was produced by actor Mahesh Babu, and actor Adivi Sesh played the lead role of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in the film. The movie is set to release on 2 July 2021.
- Before the principal photography began, the cast of the movie met Sandeep’s parents to convince them that the crew was planning to make a movie in the honor of their son. The producers and actors also needed Sandeep’s parent’s consent before working on the movie. Adivi said-
After the media ruckus, many filmmakers approached them. I promised myself I’d treat them like my own parents for the rest of my life irrespective of whether we made the film or not. Sandeep’s mother told me she could see her son in me. I was so overwhelmed that I just hugged her for a long time.”