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27 November, 2008

Salute to Hemant Karkare and colleagues killed in action


He wore a helmet, talked on his cellphone and finally put on a bullet-proof jacket before he met his deathly fate in the country's biggest Terror seize.

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, who was probing the Malegaon blasts case, suffered three bullet injuries in his chest as he was leading the offensive against the terrorists in one of the places the ultras had holed out early on Thursday morning.

The last television visuals of the 54-year-old officer showed him in a light blue shirt and dark trousers surrounded by uniformed policemen armed with firearms and walkie-talkies.

Karkare, a 1982 batch IPS officer, became the head of ATS in January this year following his return to the state cadre after serving seven years in Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Austria.

One of the brightest officers, Karkare had solved the serial bomb blasts in Thane, Vashi and Panvel and was also credited for the stunning revelations in the investigation of the September 29 blast in Malegaon. He is known for his discipline and fair investigation.

During the Malegaon investigation, Karkare had told his officers not to create false evidence, saying, "We should do our job and it is for the court to decide."
Incidentally, the Pune ATS on November 26 reportedly received phone calls threatening to blow up the residence of Karkare "within a couple of days".
In his last interview to a television channel on Wednesday, he referred to getting the custody of Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, and said "police custody would have helped investigations to proceed faster but still we will see how best to deal with it in a legal way".

When asked about criticism levelled by BJP leaders, especially L K Advani's outbursts against the agency, Karkare said, "When allegations are made anyone (we) will feel hurt."

He rejected charges of the Sadhvi being tortured during police custody. "We are going by the copy book. We are producing the accused in court whenever orders for the same are issued by the court," Karkare had said.
Among the other police officers dead in Wednesday night's terror attacks was Vijay Salaskar, who had killed around 75 dreaded criminals in police encounters.
After being out of the spotlight for quite sometime, the encounter specialist was given the plum posting of heading of the anti-extortion wing of the crime branch.
Another officer, Ashok Kamte, a 1989 batch IPS officer, was the DCP, Zone 1, in Mumbai and.was also the key officer in state police. He had also served as the commissioner of Solapur and was always known to be in the thick of action. Kamte was killed while fighting terrorists at Metro Cinema in the city along with encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar.

Before joining the ATS, Karkare was serving as the Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration). He had also worked with the National Productivity Council and Hindustan Lever before joining the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1982.
Karkare had served in various places in Maharashtra like Nanded, Akola, Thane and Bhiwandi and in Mumbai as Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in the Economic Offences Wing.

He also handled the July 2006 Mumbai local train blasts. Salaskar was brought to the squad in February this year in the wake of the 7/11 serial blasts in Mumbai trains.
Salaskar along with another police officer Pradeep Sharma is credited with breaking the backbone of the Arun Gawli and Amar Naik gangs. Salaskar shot to fame in 1997 after he killed Naik in an encounter.

Salaskar, the son of a professor and a 1983 batch officer, was abruptly transferred along with other officials after the functioning of the Anti-Extortion Cell, in which he was serving, came under a cloud following allegations of nexus with the mafia.
Some of his other encounter victims are Gawli aides Sada Pawle and Vijay Tandel, Sadhu Shetty, Jaggu Shetty, Kundan Singh Rawat and Zahoor Makhanda.

(distributed by Rights Support Centre)

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