‘I wanted to put his life and sacrifice in a proper perspective it deserves’
The book is co-authored by senior journalist Vinita Deshmukh
Mumbai: For Vinita Kamte, wife of 26/11 martyr Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte, the search for truth about her husband’s death turned out to be a protracted struggle against the establishment itself.
She has chronicled her findings in a book titled To The Last Bullet, co-authored by senior journalist Vinita Deshmukh.
“I wanted to put his life and sacrifice in a proper perspective it deserves. It was not easy to take this decision because it was a question of whether I should speak out against a force which my husband was a part of and throwing light on the shortcomings of what happened during 26/11,” Ms. Kamte said at the launch of her book, at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel on Tuesday.
The hotel itself was one of the sites of the terror attacks.
Speaking of her tryst with the administration, Ms. Kamte said, “I was stonewalled by his [Mr. Kamte’s] own colleagues.” She said Kavita Karkare, wife of slain Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare; Smita Salaskar, wife of encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and herself had a right to know what had happened to their husbands.
“The various contradictions created a doubt in the public mind and the reasons for the lack of clarity of the deaths were inexplicable. That decided why I should write and throw light on the system which created so many stumbling blocks even after I filed the RTI,” she said. Ms. Kamte had to file an RTI application even to get her husband’s post-mortem report.
Ms. Deshmukh said her journey to the places where Mr. Kamte was posted gave her many insights to the multifaceted life of the officer. She saw first hand the love and the adulation for him among the people of Solapur.
Prominent RTI activist Aruna Roy was the chief guest for the evening. She commended Ms. Kamte for her courage to use the RTI Act as a tool in her quest for truth. Alluding to the feminist context of Ms. Kamte’s work, she remarked that for women the personal was always political.
She voiced the need for transparency and accountability, which would benefit all and cautioned against the moves to dilute the Act.
Mumbai Police Commissioner D. Sivanandan remembered Mr. Kamte’s striking personality and his ability “to call a spade a spade.” He conceded that after a year there still remained many unanswered questions.
M. N. Singh, the former Mumbai Police Commissioner called Mr. Kamte “a natural police officer,” who romanced danger and adventure.
Mr. Kamte received the Ashok Chakra posthumously. “The goal was to create something that will live for ever,” Ms. Kamte said. In her endeavour, she said, she had sacrificed on the demands of her children.