Text: T P Sreenivasan
When I introduced Hemant Karkare to Kerala's legendary singer K J Jesudas in the 'Jesudas Suite' at the ambassador's residence in Vienna in 2003, I did not even mention that he was a police officer. I just said that he was a bright officer and a music and culture buff.
Hardly did we imagine then that within six years, Jesudas would invite Kavita Karkare, Hemant's widow, to come to Kerala to participate in a musical tribute to her husband and several other martyrs, who made the supreme sacrifice in the terrorist attack in Mumbai.
After that meeting in 2003, all of us went our separate ways. Jesudas soared to new heights of fame, I left the foreign service and returned to India and Hemant stayed on in Vienna for some more years.
He too returned to India after a couple of years, rejoined the Maharashtra police, did odd jobs like vigilance and eventually became the chief of the Anti Terrorism Squad. I met him off and on, during my stopovers in Mumbai and during his trip to Kerala.
Just as I had learnt to count on him in Vienna, I learnt to count on him for whatever I wanted to get done in Mumbai. And then disaster struck on 26/11 and we lost him forever. 'It was an enviable death,' said Kavita later.
T P Sreenivasan worked closely with Hemant Karkare at the Indian embassy in Vienna when the former was posted as our ambassador and the latter was the Research and Analysis Wing representative in Austria.
Image: Kavita Karkare, Mumbai Anti Terror Squad Chief Hemant Karkare's wife, and his daughter Juhi Naware during a ceremony to pay homage to the policemen and soldiers who died in the Mumbai attacks. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
Also see: A brave officer and a gentleman