Promotion for 14 policemen leaves others wondering

‘Move to reward some engaged in 26/11 operations selective’

The out-of-turn promotion announced for the 14 Mumbai Police personnel, who captured 26/11 terror attacks convict Ajmal Kasab in 2008, has sparked discontent and confusion among the others who also played a significant role in defending the city on the night of terror. Several of them wondered why the government was taking a selective approach towards the heroes of the attacks.

On November 26, 2008, Kasab and his nine fellow terrorists entered the city through Badhwar Park and proceeded to lay siege to several key locations in Mumbai, including Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), the Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi-Trident hotels and the Chabad House in Colaba.

A total of 68 police personnel across ranks were felicitated with various medals and honours for their contribution in the face of the worst terror attack the city has ever witnessed.

On Wednesday, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh announced that the 14 policemen who caught Kasab alive at Girgaum Chowpatty would be made one rank senior. These were the police personnel who intercepted the Skoda hijacked by Kasab and Abu Ismail. Ismail was killed and Kasab was captured, thanks to the late assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble.

Several of the other 54 policemen told The Hindu the announcement was being perceived as divisive.

“Nobody can deny the significance of catching Kasab alive. But everybody else who rushed to help in the face of bullets and bombs displayed an equal amount of bravery that night,” said an officer who fought that night. The first policemen to respond to the crisis at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel succeeded in confining the terrorists inside the premises till reinforcements arrived, while those at CSMT laid down their lives engaging Kasab and Abu Ismail in combat to ensure that civilians did not fall prey to their bullets, he said. “The selective approach leaves us wondering if what we did that night was any less important.”

Another officer said trading bullets did not sum up the 60-hour battle. There were numerous officers, some of them not even in operational positions, who rushed to rescue civilians stuck in locations like Chabad House, Taj and Oberoi-Trident.

“These policemen were literally wading through bodies to locate a single civilian who could be saved. The fact that they escaped alive can be put down to a combination of presence of mind and sheer luck. However, an out-of-turn promotion, which is a huge incentive in a uniformed force, might give rise to a feeling of being divided amongst ourselves, and for no clear reason. At the very least, it would help if we knew why only a select group is being offered a promotion and not everyone,” the officer said.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 10:21:50 PM |

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