M A I N   N E W S

Year on, mystery shrouds death of top cops
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 24
Despite an open and shut case by prosecutors regarding the killing of senior police officers Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar in the Mumbai terror attacks on November 26 last year, kin of the deceased remain sceptical about the official version.

According to the prosecution, the three officers, accompanied by constable Arun Jadhav, tried to intercept two terrorists in a lane leading to Rang Bhavan near Cama Hospital but were fired at from automatic weapons.

All officers died instantly while Jadhav was injured.

The two terrorists were subsequently identified as Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist to be taken alive, and his accomplice Ibrahim Khan.

But the families of the officers have raised several questions. The most vocal among them, Kavita, widow of Hemant Karkare, has questioned the safety procedures followed by the police department.

"The three officers who were injured in the operation were left unattended for more than 40 minutes even though the police headquarters is just a few metres away," she told the media last week.

She has filed a query under the Right to Information Act demanding that the police provide her with the bullet-proof jacket worn by her husband on that fateful night. Television footage minutes before his killing shows Karkare struggling to find a bullet-proof jacket that fitted him.

It may be recalled that the post-mortem report released by the Maharashtra government indicated that Karkare had been shot in the shoulder and the neck, which were not covered by the jacket. Other officers were shot in the head.

Associates of Karkare have now revealed that he had been under severe stress for days before the attack. As head of the Anti-Terror Squad of the Mumbai Police, he had arrested members of a Hindu fundamentalist group called Abhinav Bharat in connection with the blasts in the Muslim-dominated town of Malegaon.

Karkare was the target of criticism by Hindutva organisations following the arrest of serving Army officer Col Srikant Prasad Purohit and his aide Sadhvi Pragya.

"Hemant Karkare was very hurt since the attackers called him anti-Hindu," says the late officer's friend and Congress party leader Anant Gadgil. Karkare wanted a transfer from the ATS, he claims.

Fuelling the controversy is the book “Who Killed Karkare?” by former IPS officer SM Mushrif.

The publication allegedly blames the Research and Analysis Wing and the Intelligence Bureau for Karkare's death. Mushrif went on to tell mediapersons that some people were out to get Karkare for his exposure of Hindu terror groups following the Malegaon blasts.

The Maharashtra government, it seems, is hiding behind the findings of the Ram Pradhan Committee which probed the 26/11 attacks. Instead of making the entire report public, it has chosen to give out selective excerpts.

According to the state government, the Ram Pradhan committee has given a clean chit to the police on the deaths of the officers.

However, leaks indicate that the government has, indeed, been indicted for procuring poor quality weapons and ineffective bullet-proof jackets for the police force. Despite persistent demands, the Maharashtra government has so far refused to make the entire report public.



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