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26/11 martyrs’ families moved by citizens’ support

Posted by :) on November 26, 2010

26/11 martyrs’ families moved by citizens’ support

Source : Vox Purpli – YahooINEditors – November 26th, 2010


Families of policemen who laid down their lives during 26/11 are rebuilding their lives, and are overwhelmed by the love they are receiving from ordinary citizens.

Dhanalakshmi, mother of Major Unnikrishnan, is busy with a cycle rally in memory of soldiers who fell to terrorists’ bullets at the Taj. The Bangalorean told students of a journalism institute in Mumbai: “The past two years since we lost our son have been dufficult. But for  one month now, we have been visiting families of martyrs in the course of our rally.” Her husband K Unnikrishnan has cycled 1600 km for 20 days to pay homage to their son. Dhanalakshmi followed him in a car.

Unnikrishnan’s parents are in Mumbai, and will take part in the second anniversary of the terror attack. “It is great to see the love and respect people have for Sandeep. He used to say a thousand sons would show me the same love and respect he had for me if he isn’t around. Now I know what he meant.”

Kavita Karkare, wife of slain joint commissioner Hemant Karkare, said, “Life has to move on for us. Only those who have lost someone dear would know what a loss is. But also, being lonely does not mean one is alone.”

The family of assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble plans to set up a trust in his name. His daughter said, “We have
moved on in one way, But we can never forget what has happened. We only hope familiers of the martyrs get respect from the government.”

Martyrs’ families are outraged that R R Patil, Maharashtra’s home minister, visited gunman Kasab, who went on the rampage at CST two years ago. The government’s report on the lapses on 26/11 is being criticised for not being serious. “It’s substandard,” said Vineeta Deshmukh, Editor, Intelligent Pune, on TV.

Here are some profiles of 26/11 martyrs:

Ashok Marutirao Kamte
23.02.1965 – 26.11.2008

Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte was a policeman’s policeman. He had
attended the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington (Tamil Nadu). He
was fond of guns and Commando comics, which he kept hoping that his sons
would read some day. Always in a state of readiness, he was never without a firearm.

He was at a dinner in suburban Chembur, when the Police Commissioner called
him and asked him to move towards Hotel Trident. A twenty minute drive. While on
his way, he heard of the CST attacks and Cama Hospital operation. He went towards
Azad Maidan Police Station and joined colleagues Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar
in a Toyota Qualis, and headed to intercept the attackers. The vehicle was ambushed
by attackers , at the Rang Bhavan Lane, who sprayed it with automatic gunfire. Kamte
joined the ranks of martyrs.

An outstanding student, Kamte joined the force in Maharashtra through the IPS
(Indian Police Service) and his first posting was in Bhandara (Maharashtra) — a stint
that earned him a special service award. A highly decorated officer, Kamte also served
with the UN Mission in Bosnia. He was part of the National Power Lifting team and
had represented India. His generosity was well known as he unhesitatingly dug into
his pocket to support any sports person who would reach out to him for financial

Kamte was a proponent of the art of keeping fit. He would insist that his
colleagues go to the gym. If there is something that would have made him happy, it
would be compulsory physical training facilities for all policemen in Maharashtra.
And gyms attached to police stations and their mandatory use.

Hemant Kamalakar Karkare
12.12.54 – 26.11.08

Joint Commissioner Hemant Karkare was having dinner when he
got the call. He headed towards CST. Less than 12 months back he
had taken over as head of Mumbai Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad.
He reached CST and realised that the battle had moved to Cama
Hospital. There was a quick meeting at the Azad Maidan Police Station
to take stock. Karkare along with Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and
four other policemen received information that the attackers had fled
Cama Hospital. So they got in to a Qualis and decided to confront the
attackers. In the lane beside St. Xavier’s College, known as Rang Bhavan
lane, they came upon the attackers. One of them fired a volley. Karkare
took the bullets to his chest. He was taken to JJ Hospital. But to no avail.

Karkare’s martyrdom was the culmination of an unusual journey
for a medical engineer who had chosen to leave a potentially lucrative
career for the challenges of a life in uniform. A voracious reader, an
orator who could call upon his knowledge of Sanskrit to elucidate a
thought, a lifelong learner, Karkare lived by the motto: “Don’t complain
about anything. Change yourself.”

Karkare had become deeply concerned with the growing disconnect
between the needs of adolescents and what was being taught to them. He
had felt that they were not being given their due by the education system.
He was associated with Jidnyasa Trust, an awareness creation programme
for adolescent students of municipal schools in Mumbai, and he hoped
that it would grow and so would similar initiatives.

Tukaram Gopal Omble
08.06.1955 – 26.11.2008

Recently promoted, Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble
was on night shift when the walkie-talkie crackled. Two
terrorists had hijacked a car and were heading for Girgaum
Chowpatty. Omble along with his colleagues was at the barricade
set up close to the Chowpatty signal. The attackers tried to escape
on seeing the barricade, but hit the divider when they tried to turn
the car. Omble moved closer to one of them, and grabbed his gun
with both hands. With the barrel pointing at him, Omble took
the shot as the trigger was pulled. He collapsed, but held on to the
weapon. By this time, his colleagues had managed to capture that
gunman, the only one to be captured alive.

Omble was martyred close to the beach where less than a
year back he had been applying lime juice on sting injuries when
thousands of jellyfish had washed ashore. He had been asked to
keep people off the beach. They would not heed. He had gone home
and read up that lime juice alleviated the pain from jellyfish stings.
He had bought a bagful of limes with his own money. Concern
came naturally to Omble.

He would cook pavbhaji and invite his neighbour’s children.
Often he would bring them chocolates. He had promised a
grandchild tablas just weeks earlier. He wanted to open a place in
Satara, his hometown, to provide financial help to orphaned and
destitute children for their education.

Vijay Sahadev Salaskar
05.04.1957 – 26.11.2008

Inspector Vijay Salaskar was a policeman whose work had gotten
him a nickname that he did not like — Encounter Specialist.
Born in the coastal district of Sindhudurg, he had come to
Mumbai for his post-secondary education. He had joined the police
as a Sub Inspector in 1983. With organised crime growing in the
city, a crack team of sharpshooters had been formed. Salaskar was
one of them, and with 78 encounter killings, he was a known
face. His larger-than-life stature was even there on his daughter’s
cellphone where his name was saved as ‘Control Room’ and later

Salaskar had returned home to Goregaon when he heard the
news, and drove down to the location. He was on the phone with
his wife who was watching television and updating him on what
was happening in the southern fringes of the city. He reached the
Azad Maidan Police Station where he met senior officers Ashok
Kamte and Hemant Karkare. They decided to get into a vehicle and
confront the attackers as they were leaving Cama Hospital. Salaskar,
who was very good at the wheel, asked the driver to take the back
seat. He drove the car and was soon face to face with the attackers.
In the ensuing gun battle, Salaskar received lethal wounds. This was
not an encounter he would return from.

A contented man, this martyr cared deeply for his family and
ensured that they were comfortable.

(Profiles excerpted from 26/11 Eighteen, a tribute to Mumbai’s martyrs in uniform, whose Marathi version is being released on the second anniversary of the attack. Students of Journalism Mentor have put together the book, and are donating the proceeds to the Police Welfare Fund.)



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