Sunday, November 30, 2008

Remembering the Mumbai Heroes

The city of Mumbai is slowly recovering from the terrible shock of the Wednesday gone by. Many of the dead have been buried. Families and friends of those who lost their lives in the Mumbai siege are slowly coming to terms with the reality. The firing is over but the lives of Mumbaikers transformed forever.

This is the time to pray for the deceased souls and a time to remember the brave people who saved others. Some of those brave men are lucky to be alive today, othere were not so lucky.

Hemant Karkare- The moment the ATS chief heard of the attack he took his constable's helmet, wore a bullet proof jacket, took a service revolver, and headed straight to face the terrorists. This one act summarise the brave man who never shied from his duty under any sort of circumstances. The 58 year old IPS officer was well informed and a vociferous reader as shared by Hassan Ghafoor, the Commisioner of Mumbai police, on NDTV.

Though his death is in no way related to the Sadhvi Pragnya case but he did receieve death threats in connection with the same. A man of few words when questioned about the death threats to his life, he just gave a smile. The smile will live on as the brave man's name will.

Ashok Kamte- A product of St Xavier's College, Bombay, he was the additional commissioner of Mumbai Police. Kamte also served in the United Nations peace-keeping police force. He also represented the country at the junior power-lifting championship in Peru in 1978. During the communal riots in Karad, Maharashtra, he himself led the police lathicharge. He was again in the midst of action on the fateful wednesday, 26th November 2008, only to die in the line of duty.

Vijay Salaskar- The encounter specialist who reportedly killed around 75 dreaded criminal was heading the anti-extortion wing of the crime branch. He joined the police force as a sub inspector. He once said in an interview, "In a shootout, no one has time for niceties. Either you kill or you get killed. I am plain lucky to still be alive." He was until this wednesday.

Salaskar yearned for recognition and official acclaim during his life. He got it all but a trifle too late.

Karambir Singh Kang- The general manager of Taj Mahal Hotel lost everything in the hotel he worked for. His wife and two sons aged 14 and 5 perished as a result of asphyxiation in the hotel. Inspite of all this he stayed back to help those stuck in the hotel.

CST railway staff- The scene at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus could have been even more dreadful had it not been the proactiveness of the railway staff. The staff at the inquiry desk used the public address system repeatedly to warn people from using the front gate, and instead use the last gate. They were lucky enough to survive the bullets.

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan- An NSG commando, Unnikrishnan was an alumnus of the National Defence Academy. He was the only son of an ISRO official. Coming from the Bihar regiment to the NSG, his sacrifice should also give Mr Raj Thakery a reason for some serious introspection on his policies.

Gajender Singh- A hawaldar with the NSG, Singh also lost his life fighting the terrorists. He was a member of NSG's 51 Special Action Group.

Mumbai Fire brigade- The firemen of Mumbai had to brave both fire and bullets to rescue lives, something they never experienced before. Their services were even used by the NSG commandoes to gain access to the Taj hotel.

The list is not exhaustive. There are many others whose names don't figure but their sacrifice is equally commendable.

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