Thursday, November 27, 2008

Saluting the martyrs: Mumbai policemen who laid their lives battling terrorists

Every Indian's heart goes out to the families who lost their close ones in the terror attacks in Mumbai. It is an hour of gloom as over a hundred innocent Indians have died and the nation is battling the most ugly form of terrorism.

This catastrophe of extraordinary dimensions has left everybody shocked. But for most of us who watched the war-like-situation on TV sets in our homes, the harsh reality is that so many of the brave police officers lost their lives.

We salute all these men including NSG's Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, ATS' topmost officers like Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte & the junior personnel like Inspector Shinde, who sacrificed their lives to rescue the innocents trapped in the Mumbai hotels. Shinde had dreamt that his daughter would become a doctor one day.

The government announced compensation but can we as a society ensure that the families of these policemen and their children get the due respect from us? Though over 125 persons were killed, it is equally true that hundreds of other persons were saved and rescued in this gargantuan operation. One hopes that the families will not have to run from pillar to post to get the compensation. We owe a lot to these police officers.

Still, what is immensely disturbing is the nature of terrorist strike, which was nothing less than a movie script. That it happened in reality, makes it more alarming. The terrorists reportedly came from the sea side via boats, armed with huge cache of arms and explosives and used all possible tactics to scare us--hijacking police van, ensconcing themselves in hotels, spraying bullets and throwing grenades--puts question mark on our security issues. No guarding of shores or lack of preparedness on part of those expected to keep vigil at the sea.

Earlier, also in case of Mumbai blasts, the underworld had used sea route to bring explosives. A news report mentions that this time the fishermen had noticed these people carrying bags and moving suspiciously but even after informing police there was no action for two hours, that gave time to terrorists to hide all over the City.

Latest reports say that after 25 hrs, the Army and the commandos have killed all terrorists in Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel and also rescued hostages from Nariman House. As the dust settles down, lot of things will be discussed and the investigation will hopefully pinpoint the persons responsible for the attack (foreign hand has been proved, according to reports). But right now, we need our politicians to stop blaming each other.

Terror must not be politicised. If BJP says that Congress is soft on terror, it is an absurd thing to say. Say that it is inept but not that it is soft (which is a dirty way to say 'sympathetic'). After all, Congress has also lost its leaders to terrorism. The government can be termed ineffective or unprepared but not 'soft'. It's not an occasion to score political victories. All parties should speak in one voice rather than speaking with eyes set on election.

Update: After 60 hrs the operation has finally ended. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan of National Security Guard, Gajendra Singh and NSG commando Gajendra Singh also laid their lives. The family of ATS chief Hemant Karkare has reportedly refused to take the Rs 1 crore compensation offered by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. D

uring the recent election campaign in Rajasthan and MP, the BJP leaders had made personal attacks on Karkare, used foul language against him and put question mark on the integrity of ATS officers.

The Maharashtra police personnel who lost their lives battling the terrorists include:

Prakash More

Bapusahab Darugude

Tukaram Omble

Balasahem Bhosale

Arun Chitte

Jaywant Patil

Yogesh Patil

Ambadas Pawar

M Chowdhury

Rahul Shinde

Mukesh Jadhav

& Gajendra Singh [National Security Gaurd]

Hanif Sheikh, the hero of the NSGs

The role of an ice-cream shop owner Hanif Sheikh needs to be mentioned in the operation at Nariman House. When others were vying to get photographed along with commandos, the NSG men got themselves photographed with Sheikh.

They said that but for him the operation wouldn't have succeeded. The Nariman House is located in a narrow lane amids many houses and Sheikh not only helped rescue several insiders including a kid but also assisted in taking away families from neighbouring houses. He drew the map and kept on informing the commandos about the entire building and the area, reports Sushil Kumar Jha, for BBC.

Times of India also terms him a hero and said that he guided the commandos through the layout of the building. Throughout the operation he remained with them without fearing for his life and remained modest when he was asked about it after the operation ended.