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I will fight for my husband's honour: Vinita Kamte

Last updated on: May 21, 2012 13:57 IST

I will fight for my husband's honour: Vinita Kamte

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Vicky Nanjappa

For Vinita Kamte, wife of the late Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte who was gunned down during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the battle has been a long one. Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa talks to Vinita, who in her book 'To the Last Bullet', has pieced together information about the sequence of events that preceded her husband's death at the hands of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists.

Vinita conducted various inquiries and managed to uncover glaring lapses in the coordination on that fateful night of 26/11, which turned out to be the biggest-ever attack on Indian soil.

The irony however is that despite establishing  that there were acts of negligence through call log records which were procured under the Right to Information Act, there appears to be no action whatsoever taken against erring officials.

Vinita tells rediff.com that she feels that the records are being tampered with, but also adds that she will need to fight this for her husband's honour. To know exactly what happened that night, Vinita decided to procure the call records from the police under the RTI act.

On January 28, 2009, she wrote to the Mumbai police commissioner seeking the call records of her husband's mobile numbers. She waited for a month, and when no information came, she decided to use the RTI Act.

However, her application was rejected on the grounds that it would hamper with the ongoing investigation.

The letter of rejection bore a note by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria, which stated, "Please reject the information sought by Mrs Vinita Kamte under the RTI Act. The information cannot be given to her under Sec 8 (h) of the said Act."

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Image: Cover of To the Last Bullet. (Inset) Vinita Kamte


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I will fight for my husband's honour: Vinita Kamte

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Vinita then appealed to the deputy commissioner of police. While allowing her application in part, the officer permitted only inspection of the records, but no permission to procure copies.

However, there was a long wait as she wanted to inspect the original documents but was told that it had been given to the Ram Pradhan committee (instituted by the Maharashtra government to probe the police's and government's response to the 26/11 attacks).

A letter was then written to the committee. However, a member of the committee wrote back stating that they had in their possession only certified copies as they were not provided with the originals. She immediately wrote to the commissioner of police who sought legal advice only to tell her later that she would be permitted only to inspect the documents.

She sent her representative for inspection of the call log records which were not the originals.

Another RTI application was filed, seeking written and audio call records of the calls made to the control room that night. This application was also rejected, following which she made an appeal. This application went through, and the police directed to give her certified copies of the original call log records -- written and audio -- within 30 days.

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Image: A file photo of Ashok Kamte


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I will fight for my husband's honour: Vinita Kamte

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What followed was a set of shocking revelations: The gist of the information procured is below:

On that night, Ashok was called from the eastern region where he was on nakabandi duty. He was called to south Mumbai by the commissioner which shows that the portrayal that he went in a hurry was wrong.

Hemant Karkare (the then ATS chief) had sought police reinforcement of 150 policemen to seal the front side of Cama Hospital at 11.24 pm. The call log also shows that he had ordered calling in the army immediately.

After the three officers (Kamte, Karkare and senior inspector Vijay Salaskar) lay injured, two police vans -- one after three minutes of the firing in the Rang Bhavan Lane adjacent to Cama Hospital -- passed by, but did not stop for help or report to the control room.

Then after about 30 minutes, another police vehicle passed by, but despite the profusely bleeding officers lying on the road, the vehicle did not stop for help.

The police department had claimed that it had sent 150 policemen but they were not around, may be because they were not asked to specifically report to Karkare or Kamte. Another aspect noticed was that despite residents near the Cama hospital urging constables to send reinforcements immediately, these details had not been reported to the three officers by the control room.

Vinita says that she got two set of records -- both different from each other.

"I was given wrong information too and somebody needs to be punished for that. I get this feeling that the records are being tampered with. It is sad that there was a cover up of all these incidents. Even the Ram Pradhan committee was one-sided. Despite making a request that I wanted to appear before the committee and share my version, I was not called," she says.

"It is sad that we have to fight for the honour of husbands because of these glaring loopholes in the system. If they do this to their own colleagues then how safe is the public?" she asks.

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Image: The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai during the 26/11 attacks
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters

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I will fight for my husband's honour: Vinita Kamte

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"You ask me if the system has reacted in such a manner would this deter people from joining the Indian Police Service. From the response that I have got, I get to see that there are many who still want to join the force. It is good to see such a response although there are many who are disappointed with the manner in which the system has reacted," she adds.

"Action against those who are responsible for this? There has been none at all so far. In fact, I do not think that there would be any action at all. But it is my duty to speak up and expose what has happened, so that it at least acts as a deterrent not to be careless in the future," she says.

"This battle has not been easy. There have plenty of hurdles and delays. At times some have even stooped to such levels that I cannot even speak about it. I do not want to get into those details as it is more important for me to fight this battle," she says.

"The battle has been frustrating thanks to the kind of responses that I have got. There is a lot of time I have dedicated to this battle. My kids are my first priority and because of this battle I had neglected them a lot," she adds.

"Although I am aware that it is difficult to fight this system I still feel that it would be wrong on my part to stop. I can at least expose the system. What they do to their own colleagues is unpardonable," she concludes.


Image: Soldiers take position during a gun battle at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters

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