Court records police sacrifice

Even as families of the 26/11 victims welcomed Monday's Bombay High Court verdict, the day brought back memories of their loved ones and of that fateful night.

Police officers who laid down their lives during the terror strikes in Mumbai received a special mention in the court order, which upheld the death sentence awarded to the lone surviving gunman, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab.

“Before we part with the judgment, we must mention [about] some brave policemen and one NSG commando, who have laid down their lives for the people. Some of them were seriously injured while dealing with the terrorists. We will be failing in our duty if we do not acknowledge their sacrifice. We close this judgment by expressing our deepest sense of gratitude to them,” the court said.

Speaking to The Hindu on the phone, Vaishali Ombale, daughter of Tukaram Ombale, who died while intercepting Kasab, said: “We thank the court for remembering the sacrifice of [the policemen], but we will be truly thankful if there is no delay in putting Kasab to death. Only then will their [police] sacrifice not go in vain. Else, the force will be demoralised.”

She said: “We always keep track of the [legal] developments. For us, it is very painful to see [Kasab] live peacefully after all this time.”

Ms. Ombale stressed that the Lashkar handlers in Pakistan should also be punished along with Kasab. “We will hang Kasab, but what about the handlers? They will produce more attackers. Kasab should be given death so as to set a precedent for other nations as well. How long should we bear terror strikes? We have faith in the courts, but let's see what happens next.”

A key witness, 25-year old Devika Rotawan, who was shot in the leg during the firing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, is filled with anger each time Kasab's face appears before her eyes.

“I will trust the [legal system] more only when he is hanged. He is in jail and the people are in difficulty. What is the point of keeping him alive?”

Distress has stalked Devika's family. After her prolonged recuperation, her brother Jayesh Rotawan is bedridden. He is set to be operated on for spinal tuberculosis. “Assurances of a house and funds for his treatment have turned out to be hollow,” said her father Natwarlal Rotawan.

Shyamsunder Chowdhury is still paralysed from an injury, received during the attacks, which deteriorated over time. His wife Baby Chowdhury wants to know why Kasab has been kept “safely,” while her family suffers.

“He has lost all humanity. He is smiling and I am dejected. What have I done, I don't understand. He will go to the Supreme Court and that will take another three years” she said.

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