“Yala maru nako. Ha evidence ahe. (Don’t shoot him. He is evidence),” recalls a Mumbai policeman having told his colleague after catching hold of 26/11 Pakistani gunman Ajmal Amir Kasab.
These words of wisdom from Sanjay Govilkar, Assistant Police Inspector of D B Marg police station, helped the Mumbai police capture alive Kasab, one of the 10 Pakistani terrorists who attacked the country’s financial capital on November 26.
“I cannot claim I had given the issue any thought. The thought crossed my mind and I blurted it out just when Boudhankar was about to shoot Kasab,” says Mr. Govilkar, who despite taking a bullet in the abdomen, did not let go of the terrorist.
Kasab’s capture has helped pin the blame on terror merchants operating from India’s restive neighbourhood.
The wound inflicted by the bullet a year ago has healed but the 40-year-old policeman continues to have nightmares.
“I avoid passing by Girgaum area where the shootout occurred because faces of slain colleagues and seniors - Tukaram Omble, Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte appear before me and I feel depressed,” Mr. Govilkar told PTI.
While Mr. Omble was killed by Kasab at Girgaum Chowpatty, the other three police officers were gunned down by Kasab and Abu Ismail near Cama hospital.
Mr. Govilkar, who was recently honoured with the President’s medal for bravery, said: “Mr. Omble was treated at the hospital in my presence after we both took the bullets fired by Kasab. I saw Mr. Omble succumb to his injuries right in front of me. My mind is scarred forever.
Recounting the incident, Mr. Govilkar said the encounter lasted barely about three minutes.
“We saw a Skoda car approaching us. When the driver (Abu Ismail) saw us, he took a U-turn, crashing into the road divider.”
Policemen Hemant Boudhankar and Bhaskar Kadam, armed with pistols, shot at Ismail, fatally injuring him, while others, armed barely with batons, moved towards Kasab who sat beside the driver, he said.
“None of us suspected that Kasab had an assault rifle as he had hid the weapon between his legs. As he got down, we pounced on him. In a flash, he picked up the gun and began firing. Mr. Omble was there in front and took many bullets. I too was hit in the abdomen,” said Mr. Govilkar.
Just as the policemen showered baton blows on Kasab, Mr. Boudhankar came from the other side and was about to fire when Mr. Govilkar stopped him.
Although the self effacing Govilkar terms it as a team work, his colleagues at D B Marg police station feel that it was his presence of mind which ensured that Kasab was made to stand trial for his crime.
He, however, has a word of advice for his countrymen.
“The terrorists attacked us because they were misguided by conspirators that the minorities in India were suffering.
Therefore, we have to break religious barriers and unite,” he said.