Unanswered questions about Karkare murder
Posted May 23, 2016on:
The U-turn by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Malegaon blast case has once again brought into focus the controversial circumstances in which Hemant Karkare was killed by Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Karkare was the head of Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra which had busted the Malegaon blast and arrested the accused including Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Lt-Col Shrikant Purohit. Karkare was decorated with Ashok Chakra on January 26, 2009. Now the NIA says the ATS headed by Karkare had fabricated the evidence.
The Sadhvi’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.
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.
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.
To recapitulate Jadhav’s account as he narrated to media persons from his hospital bed, the three top officials were travelling in the Toyota Qualis (from the CST) 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 to 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.
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.
The major terrorist activity was going on at Taj, Oberoy, 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 trigger-happy psychopaths? Jadhav’s eyewitness account and other reports do 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 terrorist-hunting 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. One can’t say they were surprised. Doesn’t look something fishy here?