‘We began hitting Kasab hard.’
‘In the melee it struck me that the man we were beating to pulp should remain alive.’
26/11 braveheart Sanjay Govilkar was on duty on the intervening night of November 26-27, 2008 at Grant Road’s D B Marg police station in south Mumbai and recounts how Pakistani terrorist Abu Ismail was killed and another terrorist Ajmal Kasab was caught alive.
“Like Karna’s kavach kundal, our uniform is our protective gear and whatever the odds that night we were all charged to go ahead and pin Kasab down and we did succeed in our efforts,” says Govilkar, who is now a senior police inspector with the Mumbai police.
26/11 after 15 years
The last 15 years have prepared the entire police force to face such cowardly attacks and keep a round-the-clock vigil to protect the city from such attacks.
It was a terror attack on India’s sovereignty that killed 166 Indian citizens, including 18 policemen, and injured 238 people. Many families lost their sole breadwinner in this attack. While this was no doubt a cowardly attack by Pakistan, the Mumbai police and India’s defence forces used all their might to crush this terrorist attack and caught one of the terrorists red-handed.
We exposed Pakistan as a State that sponsors and abets terrorism.
How Kasab was caught alive
When we first got the news at D B Marg police station that there were gunmen killing people all over south Mumbai, most of us gathered immediately at the station and were asked by our senior PI (Police Inspector) to proceed for nakabandi (police roadblocks to check suspicious activity and take action) duty near Girgaon Chowpatty.
On our way to the spot, the wireless message on our walkie-talkies conveyed to us that armed men were using bombs, grenades and fire from automatic weapons at places like Nariman House, Colaba, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj railway station, the Trident and Taj hotels.
Given such a massive attack we were a bit confused in the beginning about what was happening in the city.
At 12.15 am (on the intervening night of November 26-27) we got a call that a suspicious Skoda was moving towards Girgaon Chowpatty.
Our team of 16 policemen including API Hemant Bavdhankar saheb (who retired as PI), my friend Bhaskar Kadam and (Tukaram) Omble saheb (the constable who sacrificed his life as he jumped on Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab as he sprayed bullets from his AK-47 from a distance of one-and-a-half feet).
As we stood guard at the nakabandi, the Skoda that came towards us tried to blind us with the car’s headlights; they also started using their wiper. But as they came closer they realised they would not be able to cross the check post so they tried to take a U-turn. Their attempt failed and they got stuck at the road divider.
A team led by Bavdhankar and Kadam took position behind a pillar near the road divider. The other team comprising myself and Omble saheb were standing on the opposite side of the Skoda car.
Abu Ismail fired from his automatic pistol. Bavdhankar saheb and Bhaskar Kadam retaliated and injured Abu Ismail grievously.
Feeling the pressure, Kasab played a trick. He raised his hands, gesturing that he was willing to surrender.
All of us felt that he was ready to surrender as he raised his hands.
We were moving towards Kasab in a C formation, but the very next moment, Kasab whipped out an AK-47 from under his jacket and started firing upon us.
No sooner did he take out his Ak-47, Omble saheb immediately sprung upon him to pin him down. But he took a number of bullets; I too got hit by a bullet.
We were bewildered for a moment, but despite being armed with only lathya kathya (lathis given to the police) all of us pounced upon him and snatched away his AK-47.
We set ourselves upon him with all our strength and began hitting him hard. The other team led by Bavdhankar and Kadam too came to back us up.
In the melee it struck me that the man we were beating to pulp should remain alive. Years of experience in the Mumbai police has taught me the importance of solid evidence to prove one’s case.
While Omble saheb sacrificed his life and showed exemplary bravery, the entire team showed presence of mind and caught Kasab alive. Of course, this would not have been possible without Omble saheb‘s bravery.
We showed Pakistan its place
This act of ours — catching Kasab alive — nailed Pakistan and we could prove to the world that Pakistan not only encourages terrorism but also sends homegrown terrorists to attack and kill innocents.
We gave the world the proof that showed that Pakistan is a terrorist State.
We knew we were dealing with terrorists’
When Abu Ismail fired on us, we knew that this was a terror attack. We had an inkling that the city was under siege and the way the Skoda drove at us made us realise that we were dealing with a terror attack.
We were only 16 of us, armed with a couple of pistols, but most of had lathis. But the police uniform in itself is a source of great strength. Once you don the uniform, the fear in you vanishes.
Like Karna’s kavach kundal, our uniform is our protective gear and whatever the odds that night we were all charged to go ahead and pin Kasab down and we did succeed in our efforts.
Once we knew that this was an attack on India’s sovereignty we all decided that come what may we will not let these terrorists succeed in their cowardly misadventure.
Our love for the country, the pride we take after donning the khaki uniform is what helped us take on these dreaded terrorists that night.
Once you know that your home is being attacked, all your fears and insecurities make way for strength and valour.
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