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Issue:January' 2018


Questions Karkare
murder left behind

N D Sharma

Hemant Karkare, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur Pragya Singh Thakur’s disgracing comments about Hemant Karkare have once again revived the controversy surrounding his murder by Ajmal Kasab and his associate on November 26, 2008. Soon after she was named by BJP its candidate for Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, she hurled abuses at Karkare and said that she had put a curse on him and he was killed by terrorists in a month’.

Abdul Rahman Antulay The late Abdul Rahman Antulay, then a member of the Union Cabinet, was the first to voice his doubts about the police version of Karkare’s killing for which he was made to quit the Cabinet and spend the rest of his life almost in oblivion. However, certain discrepancies spotted at the time in the circumstances of his killing were never accounted for. Encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte had also been done away with, along with Karkare.

After Narendra Modi became the head of the government, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had taken a U-turn in the Malegaon blast case. Karkare was the head of Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra which had busted the Malegaon blast case and arrested the accused including Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt-Col Shrikant Purohit. Karkare was decorated with Ashok Chakra on January 26, 2009. In 2016 the NIA said the ATS headed by Karkare had fabricated the evidence.

Abdul Rahman Antulay Pragya’s arrest and her sustained interrogation by the Maharashtra ATS had opened up a new vista of terrorist activities. Several bloody incidents previously attributed to Islamic terrorism were found to have been perpetrated by what Subhash Gatage calls Hindutva Terrorism in his 400- page, well-researched book ‘Godse’s Children—Hindutva Terror in India’
When ATS Maharashtra’s investigations into Malegaon 2008 bomb blast were going on, many names had come to the fore but after the murder of Hemant Karkare during the terrorist attack on Mumbai, all such people were allowed to go scot free. May it be the case of Dr R P Singh, a leading physician working in a hospital in Delhi, or Himani Savarkar, the president of Abhinav Bharat, or for that matter the old saffron hand, B L Sharma ‘Prem’ who contested elections for Parliament from Delhi.... none of them were interrogated, let alone arrested or prosecuted, Gatage writes.

Arun Jadhav Arun Jadhav, a constable who had been ‘working with Salaskar, provided to the media an eye-witness account of the last minutes of the three top police officials. Jadhav was in the same vehicle in which the three officials were gunned down, along with three constables. Jadhav was also fired at and was left by the terrorists for dead.
To recapitulate Jadhav’s account as he narrated to media persons from his hospital bed at the time, the three top officials were travelling in the Toyota Qualis (from the CST railway station) to Cama Hospital, just a 10- minute drive, to check on another injured officer Sadanand Date. ‘When we were informed that Sadanand Date has been injured at the firing in Cama Hospital, Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar and four constables left from CST for the spot’.

Five minutes later, said Jadhav, two persons carrying AK-47 rifles emerged from behind a tree and ‘started firing at our vehicle’. Jadhav could not recall the exact number of shots fired at the police vehicle but said that the three top officials and as many constables were killed on the spot. Though hit by two bullets in his right arm, Jadhav was the only person in the car who survived.

Arun Jadhav, a constable who had been ‘working with Salaskar my entire 12- year police career’, provided to the media an eye-witness account of the last minutes of the three top police officials. Jadhav was in the same vehicle in which the three officials were gunned down, along with three constables. Jadhav was also fired at and was left by the terrorists for dead.

Shrikant Purohit Vijay Salaskar Ashok Kamte

Salaskar was at the wheel; Kamte was in the front seat and Karkare in the second row with the four Constables, including Jadhav, at the back seat.

Antulay, who had ruled Maharashtra as Chief Minister for a long time, may have had some inputs from his ‘contacts’ in the higher echelons of the ruling clique in Mumbai to give vent to his misgivings about the killing of Karkare and others. However, certain discrepancies/ irregularities in the Karkare-related operation were so obvious that one did not have to be an Antulay to spot them.

The major terrorist activity was going on at Taj and Oberoy Hotels, CST and Nariman House. Cama Hospital did not figure in that category. Who impressed upon the three top officials to rush there? How come the three officials headed there, abandoning other places of operation which needed their immediate presence?

The three police officials had mainly been dealing with the terrorists and such other desperadoes and they could have known, more than others, the real magnitude of the terrorist operation going in at several places in Mumbai. How did then three top officials drive together in one vehicle – and to a place where the situation was not as grave as at other places?

Lastly, and this is something which defies comprehension of an ordinary man, were they travelling unarmed (or without the arms at the ready) when the city was known to have been virtually taken over by the triggerhappy psychopaths? Jadhav’s eyewitness account and other reports did not mention that those at the Toyota Qualis had fired back at the terrorists. Vijay Salaskar was an encounter specialist. Was even he without his gun at the ready – or without a gun? Three top terroristhunting police officials and four constables, out to control a major terrorist operation in the city, could not take on two terrorists and allowed themselves to be fired at without resistance. Something fishy here?