Short of ammunition and manpower,ACP (Central) Sadanand Date tried to conserve as many bullets as he could as he engaged terrorists Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail Khan for nearly 40 minutes in a gunbattle at Cama & Albless Hospital.
Date,42,who had entered the hospital with seven men on 26/11,was seriously injured and later awarded for gallantry. Accompanied at one stage by only one officer,who too later died,Date fired 22 rounds,some from the firearms of slain colleagues.
I fired only when the terrorists did. Anyone who understands such a challenging situation knows that ammunition is your lifeline and you cannot waste it in burst firing, Date told the special court.
He said the terrorists had greeted his team by lobbing two successive hand grenades. After the first hand grenade blast I realised that it was a terror attack, he told the court.
Date described how he came to reach Cama Hospital. Armed with an SLR from the Malabar Hill police station,he had initially gone to Breach Candy Hospital after hearing reports of an attack there. When he realised it was a rumour,he drove towards Metro Hospital where other policemen told him of shots near GT Hospital. He drove there and heard shots from the direction of Cama Hospital. He and the seven others then walked into the hospital,he said.
The guard informed them that the attackers were on the fifth floor. I briefed my men and left one constable,armed with an SLR,on guard near the main gate. The rest of the team went by lift to the sixth floor,accompanied by hospital employee Kailash Bhegadmal.
Date said he tried to get a sense of the situation by throwing an iron clip towards the terrace door. It was met with heavy firing from automatic weapons. We slipped behind a wall.
On the landing they saw a man,his hands up. (It was Chandrakant Tikhe,used as a shield by the terrorists). Date told him to duck and fired above his head. The terrorists lobbed a hand grenade,injuring all the policemen and two hospital employees. The attackers lobbed a second hand grenade soon after.
Date told one of his men,Sachin Kelekar,to go down with other injured officers and to call for reinforcements.
Only Date and officer Vijay Khandekar were now holding up the terrorists. I fired 22 rounds,10 each from the SLRs of Kelekar and deceased officer Khandekar,and two from the pistol of deceased officer Prakash More.
Later,he sensed two persons were walking on the fifth floor. He fired two rounds but couldnt say whether he hit them.
Date informed his colleagues on the mobile that the terrorists had left. He was rescued 45 minutes later,with injuries on the face,chest and legs.
Notes from The courtroom
Letter to Mecca
Kasab requested the court for permission to write a letter to someone in Mecca. Sir,I want an envelope.
The judge asked,Whom do you want to write to?
I want to write a letter to Saudi Arabia.
The judge asked him for the address but Kasab did not disclose it. The judge told him to discuss it with his lawyer and come back to the subject on Monday.