On the night of November 26, 2008 in Mumbai, every minute mattered. Frantic phone calls were being made from the South Control room which was the closest to the place where the brutal terror attacks started. The record of the call logs would have had the answer to what really transpired on the ground. However, RTI applications have revealed that the Maharashtra has three different records for the same set of calls made to and from the police officers who were in confrontation with the terrorists.
These records, accessed by slain officer Ashok Kamte's wife Vinita Kamte, have raised suspicions about the authenticity of any of the versions while also questioning the government's reason for having three separate records, which differ in hand writing and timing.
Ms Kamte has approached the State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC). In an order dated April 2nd,2013, SCIC Ratnakar Gaikwad has directed the Additional Home Secretary to investigate into the matter and punish the individuals responsible for the alleged tampering. The order also underlines the seriousness of the discrepancy while saying, “This matter is very sensitive and it is important to establish that the information given to Ms Kamte is not with any ulterior motive.”
The call logs refer to the Cama Hospital incident in which two terrorists including Ajmal kasab opened fire. It was here that ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner for Eastern Region, Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar were killed by the terrorists. Speaking to The Hindu, Ms Kamte stated that the timing mentioned in the records differ by a few minutes, but even that was extremely crucial considering the seriousness of the incident.
“Was it because the officers weren't provided with the help of man force that they needed?,” Ms Kamte asked. “I want the government to answer why they felt the need to make two different records of the same calls,” she states. The documents which are in possession of The Hindu, also reveal a distinct difference in handwriting.
While the timings and handwriting differ in the two sets of records accessed under the Right to Information Act (RTI) on two separate occasions, the charge sheet carries an entirely different version, Ms Kamte has alleged. However, the motive of the alleged tampering remains unclear, raising the question whether the Maharashtra government is trying to hide something.
Ms Kamte stated that her earlier requests to access the call log records were turned down by the Mumbai police. It was only after the charge sheet in the case was filed in February 2009 that her requests were heeded to. Eventually, she got the first call log records on November 5, 2009.
“Incidentally, when I asked for records of calls to the police number 100, another set of the same call log was given to me, this time in a different handwriting, and the contents and timings were different too,” Ms Kamte said. The second document was given to her on February 8, 2010.
For example, the first record given to Ms Kamte in November 2008 states that at 23.54, on November 26 a phone call was made to the South Centre stating that there seems to be chaos and people are saying that a man (possibly one of the terrorists) is seen coming. However, the second record given in February 2009 does not carry a record of the phone call at all. In the chargesheet, the same phone call is listed at 23.50 hours, Ms Kamte explained.
In a hearing conducted on April 24, Additional Police Commissioner (Administration) ND Pawar failed to answer as to why there is discrepancy in information in the three sets of the same call log records.
In the appeal to the SCIC, Ms Kamte has said, “Since both the call log records pertain to the same channel i.e South Channel, there ought not to have been any difference between the two copies and both ought to have been the identical copies of the original call log register. It is thus evident that the public information officers, knowingly gave incorrect and misleading information to me and it is in these circumstances, that I have lodged the present complaint.”
“This raises many questions about the manner of investigation of the entire case that the government needs to answer,” she stated.