Salaskar’s assistant gives graphic account of 26/11 gunbattle

Sole survivor of 26/11 gunbattle near Cama Hospital described how Kasab and his accomplice had fired at the police jeep carrying Karkare,Salaskar and Ashok Kamte.

Written by Agencies | Mumbai | Published: July 24, 2009 5:53:10 pm

A police officer and sole survivor of a November 26 gunbattle between gunmen and police near Cama Hospital,in which three senior police officials including Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare were killed,on Friday recounted the sequence of events to a special court.

Arun Jadhav,assistant to slain Inspector Vijay Salaskar,emotionally described how arrested gunman Mohammed Ajmal Kasab and his dead accomplice Abu Ismail had fired at the police jeep carrying Karkare,Salaskar,Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte and three other constables.

Describing the events on the night,Jadhav said when they reached Cama Hospital the senior officials,Karkare,Kamte and Salaskar,decided to confront terrorists at the main gate of the hospital and instructed a group of policemen to stay in position at the rear gate.

They took a Qualis jeep of Pydhonie division and the three senior officials sat in the front two seats,while three other constables Yogesh Patil,Jaywant Patil and Dilip Bhosale along with him (Jadhav) sat in the rear seat.

When the vehicle reached the lane adjoining Rang Bhavan,an open auditorium near Cama Hospital,they heard a message over the wireless that two terrorists were hiding in the area prompting Kamte to ask Salaskar to slow down,he said.

Suddenly,there was a burst of fire in their direction and the three senior police officials and he (Jadhav) retaliated by shooting back.

Jadhav said he was hit by the bullets due to which the carbine he was using fell inside the vehicle and he was unable to pick it up.

The firing continued for three to four minutes,he said.

“I saw two men one tall and the other short firing at us. We fired back,I was injured in elbow and left shoulder,” Jadhav told the court.

After the firing there was complete silence and the taller person,later identified as Abu Ismail,tried to open the rear door of the jeep,he said.

As he could not move,Jadhav said he stayed lying down and pretended to be dead.

The duo then opened the doors of jeep and began throwing the bodies of slain senior police officials on the road,he said.

The bodies of Salaskar was thrown by Ismail and that of Kamte was thrown by Kasab,who then went and aided in removing Karkare’s body from the jeep,Jadhav said,adding,Kasab abused while throwing the body of Karkare.

A mobile phone of one of the injured constables,Yogesh Patil,rang while the duo were removing the body and Kasab fired a round through the seat killing him,Jadhav said.

Kasab,who was sitting in the dock,was visibly upset while Jadhav spoke about the sequence of events and stood up abruptly thrice but was instructed to remain seated by the court.

After the bodies were removed,the two gunmen sat in the vehicle and Ismail drove the vehicle at a very high speed,Jadhav said,adding,that the duo were silent through the journey.

The police officer said he realised he could not retaliate and was scared due to which he pretended to be dead.

Jadhav said he later realised the vehicle had stopped near Vidhan Bhavan near Nariman Point and saw both gunmen leaving the jeep and baording another car.

After that he informed the control room about the incident and was later taken to a hospital where it was found that he had sustained three bullet injuries,two in the shoulder and one in the elbow,Jadhav said.

During cross examination by defence counsel Abbas Kazmi,Jadhav said he was not sure whose bullet had injured Kasab in the hand.

Jadhav is the first witness to be examined by the court after Kasab’s admission of guilt before the court on July 20,when he admitted to his involvement in the terror strikes.

Special Judge M L Tahaliyani had yesterday taken the admission of guilt on record and allowed the trial to continue.

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