Sandeep Unnikrishnan

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Sandeep Unnikrishnan

Sandeep Unnikrishnan.jpg
Sandeep Unnikrishnan
Born(1977-03-15)15 March 1977
Kozhikode, Kerala, India
Died28 November 2008(2008-11-28) (aged 31)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
AllegianceIndia India
Service/branchFlag of Indian Army.svg Indian Army
Years of service1999–2008
RankNSG OF-3.svg Major
Service numberIC-58660
UnitNSG Flag.svg 51 SAG, NSG
7 Bihar, Bihar Regiment
Battles/warsOperation Vijay
Operation Parakram
Operation Rakshak
Operation Black Tornado
Alma materThe Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore
National Defence Academy
Indian Military Academy
High Altitude Warfare School
Commando School Belgaum

Sandeep Unnikrishnan, AC (15 March 1977 – 28 November 2008) was an Indian Army officer, who was serving in the 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guards on deputation. He was Martyred in action during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.[2] He was consequently awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India's highest peacetime gallantry award, on 26 January 2009.[3]

Early and personal life[edit]

Sandeep Unnikrishnan came from a Malayali family residing in Bangalore, where they had moved from Kozhikode, Kerala.[4][5] He was the only son of retired ISRO officer K. Unnikrishnan[6][7] and Dhanalakshmi Unnikrishnan.[8][9]

Unnikrishnan attended The Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore,[10] graduating in 1995 in the ISC Science stream.[11] He wanted to join the armed forces from childhood.[12] He was married to Neha.[13]

Military career[edit]

Unnikrishnan joined the National Defence Academy (India) (NDA), Pune, Maharashtra in 1995. He was a part of the Oscar Squadron (No. 4 Battalion) and a graduate of the 94th Course NDA. He held a Bachelor of Arts degree.[14]

In Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, he was the part of 104th regular course. On 12 June 1999, he graduated from IMA and got commissioned as Lieutenant in the 7th Battalion of the Bihar Regiment[2] (Infantry) of Indian Army.[15] During Operation Vijay in July 1999, he was regarded positively at the forward posts in the face of heavy artillery firing and small arms fire by Pakistan troops. On the evening of 31 December 1999,[16] he led a team of six soldiers and established a post 200 metres from the opposing side and under direct observation and fire.[17]

Unnikrishnan received a substantive promotion to captain on 12 June 2003,[18] followed by promotion to major on 13 June 2005.[19] During the 'Ghatak course' (at the Infantry wing Commando School, Belgaum), he topped the course twice earning an "Instructor grading" and Commendation.[20]

He was also trained in High Altitude Warfare school, Gulmarg.[20] After serving in different locations including Siachen, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat (during 2002 Gujarat Riots), Hyderabad and Rajasthan, he was selected to join the National Security Guards. On completion of training, he was assigned as the training officer of the 51 Special Action Group (51 SAG) of NSG, in January 2007 and also participated in various operations of the NSG.[21]

Operation Black Tornado[edit]

On the night of 26 November 2008, several buildings in South Mumbai were attacked.[22] One of the buildings where hostages were held was the iconic 100-year-old Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was the team commander of 51 Special Action Group (51 SAG) deployed in the hotel to rescue the hostages. He entered the hotel with a group of 10 commandos and reached the sixth floor through the staircase. After evacuating hostages in the sixth and fifth floors, as the team descended the stairs, they suspected terrorists in a room on fourth floor, which was locked from the inside. As the commandos broke open the door, the round of fire by the terrorists hit Commando Sunil Kumar Yadav in both legs.[23] Unnikrishnan managed to save and evacuate Yadav, but terrorists disappeared after blasting a grenade inside the room.[24] Unnikrishnan and his team continued evacuating hostages from the hotel, for around 15 hours. On 27 November, around midnight Unnikrishnan and his team decided to take the path of the central staircase of hotel to go up, as it was their only path towards the hostages and terrorists. As expected, when terrorists saw commandos coming up through the central staircase, they ambushed NSG team, from the first floor, in which 27-year-old Commando Sunil Kumar Jodha was grievously injured by seven bullets (three in the left hand, one on his right palm, two in the right shoulder and one in his chest). Unnikrishnan arranged for his evacuation and continued to engage terrorists in the firefight. He then decided to chase terrorists alone, as they were trying to escape to the next floor. In the encounter that followed, he managed to corner all four terrorists to the Ballroom in the northern end of Taj Mahal hotel, single-handedly but sacrificed his life in the course. His last words were, "Don't come up, I will handle them" according to the NSG officials. NSG commandos later killed all four terrorists trapped in the Ballroom and Wasabi restaurant of the Mumbai Taj hotel.[25][26]

Ashoka Chakra citation[edit]

Sandeep's mother receiving the Ashoka Chakra from President Pratibha Patil on 26 January 2009

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.[27]


Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan Road in Yelahanka Newtown

At Unnikrishnan's funeral, mourners chanted "Sandeep Unnikrishnan Amar Rahe" ("May Sandeep Unnikrishnan('s name) remain eternal").[28] Thousands of people lined up outside his Bangalore house to pay their respects. His funeral was held with full military honours.[29]

Honour and legacy[edit]

The Mother Dairy Double Road in Bengaluru, a 4.5 km (2.8 mi) stretch from Federal Mogul on Doddaballapur Road to MS Palya junction, within Yelahanka New Town, was renamed Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan Road in his honour.[30] A bust of Unnikrishnan is installed on Ramamurthy Nagar Outer Ring Road junction in Bangalore and is named in his honour.[31]

There is a bust of Unnikrishnan at the entrance of Indian Education Society on Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road, Mumbai. An army housing complex at Whitefield, Bangalore is named 'Sandeep Vihar' and a bust of Unnikrishnan is installed in the center of Housing complex.[32]


A film, titled Major, stars Adivi Sesh in the titular role of Unnikrishnan. The film is produced by actor Mahesh Babu, Sony Pictures International Productions, and A+S Movies.[33]

The principal photography of the film began in February 2020,[34] and was released worldwide on 3 June 2022.[35]


  1. ^ Ravindran, Nirmala (29 November 2008). "Nation bid tearful adieu to Karkare, Unnikrishnan". India Today. India Today. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  2. ^ a b "2 NSG men martyred, six others injured in Mumbai gunbattles". PTI. 28 November 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ "11 security personnel to get Ashok Chakra". Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  4. ^ "Biopic of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan is all set to release this year, know all about the braveheart of India".
  5. ^ "Army Major from Kerala dies in Mumbai encounter". WebIndia 123. 28 November 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2008.
  6. ^ "Kerala aid for Maj Sandeep's family".
  7. ^ "'He asked me to watch the operation on TV'".
  8. ^ "Boy who had a crew cut in school". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. 29 November 2008.
  9. ^ "Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan AC".
  10. ^ "Bangalore boy's supreme sacrifice". Bangalore Mirror, India Times. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  11. ^ "Maj Sandeep UnniKrishnan - A school remembers". Times of India. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  12. ^ "A school remembers". The Times of India. Times of India. 29 November 2008. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  13. ^ Lulla, Anil Budur (29 November 2008). "Thousands take first & last look at martyr". Telegraph India. The Telegraph (India). Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  14. ^ Mund, Prasenjit (30 November 2008). "NDA Buddies Remember Unni=". The Times of India. The Times Of India. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  15. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 13 May 2000. p. 625.
  16. ^ "Major Unnikrishnan's colleagues recall his qualities". Zee News. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  17. ^ "Major Unnikrishnan's colleagues recall his qualities". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 10 December 2008.
  18. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 8 November 2003. p. 1508.
  19. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 29 October 2005. p. 2075.
  20. ^ a b Verma, Kumod (29 November 2008). "Bihar Regiment fondly remembers Major Unnikrishnan". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012.
  21. ^ Mangalorean.Com- Serving Mangaloreans Around The World!
  22. ^ Levy, Adrian; Scott-Clark, Cathy (2013). The Siege : The Attack on the Taj. New Delhi, India: Penguin Books. pp. clxxxviii. ISBN 978-0-14-342010-1.
  23. ^ "A buddy called Major Unnikrishnan". Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  24. ^ "". Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  25. ^ "Sandeep Unnikrishnan waged a valiant battle against terrorists". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 29 November 2008. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  26. ^ Nation bids adieu to ATS chief, NSG commando – India News – IBNLive
  27. ^ Ashoka Chakra awardees and their saga of gallantry, Press Information Bureau, Government of India, 25 January 2009, retrieved 14 September 2014
  28. ^ "Hundreds pay tributes to slain NSG major in Bangalore — The Hindu". Chennai, India. The Hindu. 29 November 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  29. ^ Ravindran, Nirmala (29 November 2008). "Nation bid tearful adieu to Karkare, Unnikrishnan". India Today. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  30. ^ "Karnataka to name road after Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan | India News - Times of India". The Times of India. PTI. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  31. ^ "Teachers' Colony pays tribute, names park after Sandeep Unnikrishnan - Bangalore Mirror -". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  32. ^ "Tributes to a martyr: Major Unnikrishnan's bust unveiled". Bangalore Mirror. 29 November 2021. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  33. ^ "Film on Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's life set to release in July". ANI News. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  34. ^ "Shoot commences for Adivi Sesh's 'Major'". The News Minute. 17 February 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  35. ^ "Adivi Sesh's Major to release in theatres on June 3. New poster out". The Indian Express. 27 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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