We’ve handed over our bloggers’ chair for the day to Vinita Deshmukh, a senior Indian journalist, activist and the editor of the weekly tabloid Intelligent Pune. Vinita Deshmukh has co-authored the book-To the Last Bullet, along with the Vinita Kamte, the wife of Mumbai Additional Commissioner of Police, Ashok Kamte, who died fighting the terrorists in the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.
Ajmal Kasab has been awarded the death sentence. Well, it would have been surprising only if he had been given anything less than death. Going by the standards of the Indian judiciary, the case you can say was closed fast. Though this is only the Special Court’s verdict and the High Court, Supreme Court and perhaps the mercy petition is yet to go by.
But considering the leaps that technology has made, the verdict was indeed snail paced. The video clips of the 22 year old Kasab showering bullets from his AK47 at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus; all clad in jeans, sneakers and the knapsack was proof enough for the court.The killings in Mumbai are considered to be the worst of the so called Fidayeen attacks - such as those on the Indian Parliament or the co-ordinated bombings of Mumbai train stations. And popular sentiment found it could concentrate its hatred on Kasab - caught on camera with his machine gun moments before he opened fire on a random public at the CST station. From the station, he ran with his accomplice Abu Ismail, to the Cama Hospital and opened fire on patients and police.
Additional Commissioner Sadanand Date was injured in this attack and three constables lost their lives. The gunmen then freely walked into the Rang Bhavan Lane alongside and killed three more officers: Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner, Eastern Region, Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaska.
The events of 26/11 have touched a deeply emotional chord in Mumbaikers and there has been public unrest at the cost of the gunman’s imprisonment and trial estimated at Rs200,000 per day, (US$ 4500). Unsurprisingly, there has been little opposition to Kasab’s recently awarded death sentence.
When I wrote the book `To the last bullet’ for Vinita Kamte, I was anguished that her voice was not being heard by the Mumbai Police and the Home Ministry.
Firstly, her ardent requests to the Mumbai police authorities to let her know the sequence of events that led to the death of her husband, Ashok Kamte, fell on deaf ears. Despite being the wife of a senior IPS officer, she was compelled to use the Right To Information Act (RTI) to procure all call log records; which revealed conversations between the Control Room manned by the then Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria and the police officers on Ground Zero on the night of 26/11.
She along with her twin sister Revati had to burn the midnight oil for nights on end to scrutinise and analyse the call log records only to find serious goof ups by the Control Room which kept the three officers in the dark of the movement of the two terrorists. This led to a triple tragedy that could probably have been avoided.
Mrs Kamte has heard many excuses from the police about the death of her husband and his colleagues: `The three officers went in a hurry” , “We don’t know how they went together’, “They did not understand the gravity of the situation”. “To the Last Bullet” is the story of the journey of Mrs Vinita Kamte undertook to find the truth behind the maze of mistakes and cover-ups behind the death of her husband.
And the widow of the hero of this tragedy believes that the killer Ajmal Kasab got a fairer public hearing than she did.