The first anniversary of the November 26 terror strike has brought more grief to the government and senior police officials. Vinita Kamte’s book To the Last Bullet, released here on November 24, squarely blames the Mumbai police for not responding to calls for help by senior officers near Cama Hospital on that fateful night.
Ms. Kamte points a finger at Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria, who was in charge of the city police control room. Her husband, Ashok Kamte, Additional Commissioner of Police (East Region), was killed by terrorists near the hospital.
Mr. Maria has taken exception to these accusations in the book and met Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chandra Iyengar to voice his feelings. Ms. Iyengar told journalists on Friday that Mr. Maria did indeed meet her and “he was very upset and legitimately so. I feel his point of view deserves attention and I will convey his views to the Chief Minister and the Home Minister,” she said. Mr. Maria refused to comment on this issue.
Earlier, Home Minister R.R. Patil scotched rumours that Mr. Maria had resigned, saying that no resignation letter was received by the government.
Mr. Maria wants to make his position clear and respond to the charges in the book, but how exactly this will be done is yet to be worked out. For the government, this book is a fresh embarrassment, coming close on the heels of the former Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor’s allegations in a press interview that four top officers did not perform their duty.
The issue goes beyond individual performances and has now put a question mark on the role of the police itself. It has also brought to light the unsavoury factionalism that has plagued the Mumbai police.
Ms. Kamte, in her book co-authored with journalist Vinita Deshmukh, says the Cama Hospital episode in which three dynamic police officers, Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte had been killed in action, seemed to be bereft of information.
She writes, “I could not get a clear picture either from official sources or through the print and electronic media. Like any person would, I was keen on knowing what exactly transpired that led to the death of my husband. Being an integral part of the police fraternity, I was sure the details of those last hours would be disclosed to me, without hesitation by the authorities. However, this was not to be. I had to go through a trying ordeal to get the facts — even to the extent of taking recourse to the Right to Information (RTI) Act. I soon realised that I was naive to believe that the system always has a special regard for its heroes.”
Ms. Kamte has been painstakingly collating evidence about her husband’s death and before she resorted to the RTI, she even met Mr. Maria and Mr. Gafoor who had called Ashok Kamte to the Trident Hotel. Mr. Gafoor was not aware as to how Mr. Kamte had landed up at Cama hospital.