That night, there was a sudden noise of bullets and Balasaheb Ahire’s world went quiet. Turning around, Ahire saw his superior, Senior Inspector Vilas Joshi collapsed on the ground. He lifted Joshi and bundled him into a car. Minutes later they reached Bandra’s Lilavati Hospital. Ahire glanced at his legs. “The khaki pants covering my left leg were red with blood. I realised I too had been shot,” Ahire recalled, as he pointed at the scars. As he began feeling dizzy, Ahire’s colleagues rushed him to a bed.
That was two months ago, when Assistant Sub Inspector Dilip Shirke fired bullets at Joshi in the back, before turning the gun on himself. Police personnel are now getting counselling. Ahire said he had not observed any outward signs in Shirke of things to come. “It is good now that counselling is being offered to police. For a section of police force, it is necessary,” said Ahire.
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A stray fragment of a flying bullet had dug into Ahire’s left leg above the kneecap. Ahire reported to work that Saturday, May 2, after a three-day leave.
As a wireless operator, Ahire’s duties involved being constantly glued to a wireless set and informing Joshi of important missives.
At 8.45 pm, Ahire was walking a few steps ahead of Joshi, who was heading home. “I was holding the police station attendance diary. Joshi had exited his cabin, when there was a loud sound of bullets behind me,” he said. Ahire’s left ear, which had previously been operated upon, gave in, and Ahire could hear no more. “Both my ears were jammed but I sensed what had happened. I turned around and with the help of two other constables took Joshi to hospital,” 42-year-old Ahire said.
In 23 years of service, this was the first time that he had heard a bullet go off in a police station. Ahire’s wife Surekha (39) was informed by a neighbour about a disturbance at Vakola police station. “Details were sketchy when I switched on the TV. But when I saw Joshi had been injured, I was afraid for my husband. He worked closely with Joshi,” she said.
With hearing still weak, but on the mend, Ahire is awaiting the doctor’s word to return to work. As part of the general transfers announced on June 1, Ahire was shifted to Bandra police station after five years at Vakola.