A day after the Ram Pradhan committee report was tabled in the State assembly, Vinita Kamte, wife of slain police officer Ashok Kamte, said the report crucified those who fought bravely on the night of 26/11.
Ms. Kamte was speaking here at the release of the Marathi edition of her book To the Last Bullet, in which she has tried to trace the events that led to her husband’s death.
“The Ram Pradhan committee has said that the trio of Kamte, Karkare and Salaskar should have entered the Cama hospital from the rear gate and that would have saved their life. The committee has based this judgement on the testimonies of two constables, Jadhav and Tilekar. Will constables decide now what should the strategy of senior officers be?” Ms. Kamte said.
She added that Constable Jadhav had repeatedly changed his statements, while Constable Tilekar was not present when the officers were attacked, and that it was thus wrong to base the judgement on their opinions. “Terrorists were firing from the terrace at the rear gate. So it would have been suicidal to enter from there,” she said.
Ms. Kamte added that it was surprising that though the committee’s report was not made public for so many months, the media got a leaked copy soon after her book was published last month.
On the committee’s having congratulated Rakesh Maria, she said it seemed as if the committee had already decided whom to congratulate. She also questioned the official version that 150 policemen were sent in as reinforcement.
“So where did all the policemen go?” Ms. Kamte asked, citing that three top police officers remained in pools of blood for 40 minutes because there were no reinforcements. “There isn’t a single call log record in which the control room had directed policemen to go to the aid of Karkare and others, though he had specifically asked for reinforcements.”
Vinita Deshmukh, a senior journalist and the book’s co-author, called the report “superficial and farcical and not based on any investigation or research.”
She alleged that the report read as a mere formality and felt as if vested interests had driven the committee to reach the conclusions that it did.
Criticising the report for saying that the three top police officers had gathered at the Cama Hospital “fortuously, meaning accidentally,” Ms. Deshmukh said this was wrong and that the three were responding to a situation that was changing minute by minute.
She further criticised the report for saying that the officers on the spot of the attacks did not inform the control room about their strategies. “The committee should have checked the call log records, which showed that Mr. Karkare had informed the control room about their location and asked for reinforcements,” she said.
Ms. Deshmukh added that the then commissioner of police, Hasan Gafoor, had been made a “scapegoat for having spoken out against officers who showed no leadership” while covering up for the inept officers.
Kavita Karkare, wife of slain Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, similarly criticised the report for not questioning “why some officers stayed on the terrace of the Cama Hospital and why the mobile phones of some were switched off.”
In a poem she composed, Ms. Karkare said the “martyrs were hanged by the system” and were called headless chickens and dumb asses.
Smita Salaskar, wife of officer Vijay Salaskar, said that according to the doctors at GT hospital, her husband died because of blood loss, not so much because of the injuries, and that he could have been saved had he been brought to the hospital earlier.
“It is painful that officers of the calibre of my husband were thrown out of the car by terrorists and that no reinforcements arrived from the police to save them. We want the administration to answer the unanswered questions,” Ms. Salaskar said.