November 30, 2008 2:18:50 am
On the third floor of Bombay Hospital, PSI Arun Jadhav is the sole survivor from the gunbattle in which ATS chief Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte lost their lives.
Attached with the anti-robbery squad headed by Salaskar, Jadhav was called to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), as information of shooting at the heritage station was received. Jadhav was at Marine Lines around 10 p.m. when he was called in to take one of the injured to the hospital.
“I went to our office and picked up two stens and 70 rounds along with my pistol,” recalled Jadhav, adding that he and another officer with him could not find bullet-proof jackets. As they reached CST, they were asked to go to Cama Hospital instead, where terrorists held siege. Salaskar was waiting near SB-1 with a team, ready to move into Cama. Soon, Karkare and Kamte joined in,” said Jadhav.
A team led by Sadanand Date had already entered the hospital premises but it had to retreat after Date was seriously injured. Date was then taken to KEM Hospital by the team. However, Karkare and team received an input that terrorists were travelling in a red vehicle on that road.
According to Jadhav, Karkare got into a DCP vehicle and sat in the front seat next to the driver, while Kamte sat near the window. Salaskar was sitting behind the driver but as the vehicle moved forward, he asked the driver to slow down and got behind the wheel himself. Jadhav was seated at the back with three other constables.
“We were driving slowly ahead when we spotted the red car. Even as we were about 100 metres from the car, there was sudden firing from the left side through trees. We were caught unawares and Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte died on the spot. Kamte was firing with his AK-47 even as he succumbed,” recalled Jadhav.
The terrorists continued firing, injuring Jadhav and killing others. As their dead bodies slumped on him, he heard the terrorist opening the vehicle door and removing the bodies of the ATS chief and other cops from the front seat. While entering the vehicle, the terrorists took Karkare’s AK-47 rifle and ammunition.
“I remained slouched as I was alone on the back seat. All the others were dead. The only thing they said when they removed Karkare’s body was ‘jacket hai’ in a Punjabi-Hindi accent,” said Jadhav.
The terrorists then drove towards the Mantralaya and got off at Inox. “The tyre burst and they stopped the vehicle. They got off and threatened the driver of a Skoda or Honda City, and fled in that vehicle towards Girgaum Chowpatty,” said Jadhav.
As soon as they got off, Jadhav alerted the police control on wireless about the terrorists and was rescued by cops, who rushed him to Bombay Hospital.
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