Slain ATS chief was disturbed ahead of his death: colleagues

November 30th, 2008 - 2:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Nov 30 (IANS) Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, killed by terrorists who ravaged Mumbai, was a disturbed man in the days leading to his death because of endless attacks on him over the Malegaon bombing probe, police officers who knew him well said.Former Mumbai police chief Julio Ribeiro and retired police officer Sudhakar Suradkar both said that Karkare was not his usual self near the Cama hospital while going to take on terrorists Wednesday night.

Calling Karkare a “rare officer”, Ribeiro said that in the brief period he had known him, he could see that Karkare was “troubled with attacks on him by political parties”.

Karkare, a 1982 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, was investigating the Sep 29 bomb blasts in Maharashtra’s Malegaon town that were blamed on Hindu radicals.

Hindu activists blasted Karkare for arresting an army officer and a Hindu ascetic, accusing the officer of anti-Hindu bias.

Added Sudhakar: “During the morning walks I often met Hemant. He seemed quite disturbed and hurt. Perhaps he was under mental stress. Unfounded and false implications had rattled him leaving him disillusioned.”

Suradkar went on to say that the way he carried out the anti-terrorist operation was “unlike Hemant” since he was a very “methodical” person.

Karkare was among 20 security personnel killed battling terrorists, 14 of whom belonged to the Maharashtra Police.

Both serving and retired police officers also paid heartfelt tributes to Karkare, who was cremated Saturday.

“It was an honour to serve under him,” said an emotional Nasir Kulkarni, who was Karkare’s bodyguard.

“Sir (Karkare) was a true karmayogi (man of action). He treated everyone equally irrespective of post,” Kulkarni said.

Other officials called Karkare a humble man and an exemplary officer.

“He was very accessible and humble. He was an outstanding officer and an outstanding human being. He would never implicate anyone falsely, he was fair,” said Suradkar, a former inspector general of police.

As terrorists Wednesday night targeted 10 Mumbai landmarks, Karkare donned his helmet and bullet-proof jacket and set out to take them on. The protection proved inadequate and Karkare fell to terrorist bullets in front of the Cama hospital. At least 183 people were killed and over 300 were injured in the attacks.

Y.P. Singh, a retired IPS officer and Karkare’s friend, alleged “there was a lot of anguish among police officials about the poor quality safety equipment like helmets and bullet-proof jackets”.

Ribeiro said that police reforms should be de-politicised.

“There is a need for police reforms. Police should be made accountable to the law and people they serve. Reforms should make policing more professional and not politicised. Such a reform would be a tribute in itself (to Karkare),” said Ribeiro.

Karkare took over as the ATS chief in January after a seven-year stint with India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.

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