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Hemant Karkare! Tribute To A Hero

By Mustafa Khan

28 November, 2008

If any Indian distinguished himself by writing history by his sweat and while doing so made history by writing it in his blood, it is this modest looking man. This assistant commissioner in charge of Anti Terrorist Squad of Maharashtra will be remembered for good. Those who were breathing down his neck will breathe a sigh of relief but all others will have grief.

LK Advani and Rajnathsingh had tried to run down one of the most impeccable and distinguished men of probity. They were doing what the poet Alexander Pope penned three centuries ago: ‘willing to wound but afraid to strike.’ That hurt him deeply: "when allegations are made anyone (we) will feel hurt.". Indeed the Pune ATS had received a telephonic message threatening to kill Karkare and blow up his house ‘within a few days.’

It was painstaking work that he undertook when the bombs went off in Gadkari auditorium in Thane and another theatre in Vashi, Mumbai, by vowing to leave no stone unturned in search of clues. That paid off immediately. But then came Malegaon September 29, 2008 blast. The crowd had gone berserk in Bhiku chowk and had almost threatened to destroy the evidence by their over reaction. But Karkare’s reaching the spot with his team salvaged the dreadful proof of Sadhvi Pragyasingh Thakur’s motor bike, the LML Freedom. Then came the forensic report and the number of the bike. Given the state of the political situation and the communal fragility it was most dangerous to lay one’s hand on a sadhu let alone a sadhvi.

That was like wearing the burning shirt of Hercules. But this valiant man did it.

He worked in private companies including Hindustan Lever and the National Productivity Council before joining IPS in 1985. He worked in Akola, Bhiwandi, Thane and Mumbai. A most daring stint in very difficult district infected by Naxalites, Chandrapur, was also in his lot. He had rich experience with the ace intelligence agency of RAW by serving a stint in Austria and then he took over in January this year as the chief of ATS.

The imprint of his sang froid manner is the subtext of what he said during Malegaon investigation: "We should do our job and it is for the court to decide."

Of course, under the tremendous tension and pressure he carried on his work. Only the other day the court denied police custody of Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragyasingh etc. karkare did not feel brow beaten: “police custody would have helped investigations to proceed faster but still we will see how best to deal with it in a legal way". This is ironclad perseverance.

Karkare in his crisp blue shirt wore the helmet and took a call on his mobile before he advanced towards the Metro cinema and the Cama hospital. The security circle around him moved. His eyes shone brightly as he went to attend the call of duty.

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