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No conspiracy in Karkare's death, says Chidambaram

December 23, 2008 12:39 IST
Last Updated: December 23, 2008 14:51 IST

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The government today rejected the conspiracy theory propounded by Union Minister A R Antulay over the death of Hemant Karkare [Images], saying questions raised about the circumstances in which the former Maharashtra ATS chief was killed are "wrong and deeply regrettable".

Making a statement in the Lok Sabha in the wake of persisting demands by the Opposition after Antulay made the controversial remarks last week, Home Minister P Chidambaram said there is "no truth in the different versions that have been circulated about the movement of Karkare on that fateful day."

Amid slogan-shouting by the NDA members, Chidambaram gave details of sequence of events that led to the killing of Karkare and other two officers when terrorists struck in Mumbai [Images] on November 26.

"The investigators have reached the conclusion that there is no truth whatsoever in the suspicion that there was a conspiracy to eliminate Shri Karkare or others," the Home Minister said.

"There is no truth in the different versions that have been circulated about the movement of Karkare on that fateful day," he asserted, rejecting the theory of conspiracy propounded by Antulay who has questioned who sent the ATS chief to Cama Hospital [Images] and demanded an inquiry into it.  

Giving details of the sequence of events, Chidambaram said Karkare reached his residence at around 21.45 hours and shortly thereafter received information over phone from Tondwalkar, Inspector-in-charge of the control room about the attack at CST Railway Station.

Karkare alerted his staff and within minutes, he and his team (one Sub-Inspector and four constables) took a Balero jeep and rushed towards the CST station, the Home Minister said.

"Before they reached the CST, they found that the road had been blocked due to a 'nakabandi' (police barricade). Hence, Shri Karkare and his team walked from that point to the CST," he said.

K P Raghuvanshi, Additional Director General of Police, Railways, and some other officers met Karkare there and they informed him that two terrorists, after opening indiscriminate fire inside the railway station, had fled towards a lane called Anjuman Lane between the Times of India [Images] building and Anjuman Islam High School, he said.

"Immediately, Shri Karkare put on his bullet-proof jacket and helmet and along with his team rushed in the direction in which the terrorists had fled. Shri Karkare and his team reached the rear gate of Cama Hospital. They heard the noise of exchange of fire as well as blast of grenades. They took cover position behind the rear gate," Chidambaram said.

At the rear gate of Cama Hospital, Karkare was joined by two other officers Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar, the Home Minister said.

Chidamabarm, who laid an identical statement in the Rajya Sabha, said "While it is indeed unfortunate that three brave officers and their men boarded one Qualis vehicle, the circumstances in which they came under fire and were killed were tragically fortuitous."

The home minister said the facts showed that Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar converged at the rear gate of Cama Hospital through "independent routes".

While the three were discussing the situation amongst themselves, Telekar, wireless operator attached to Additional Commissioner of Police Sadanand Date came out of the Cama Hospital with injuries and informed them that Date had been injured in the exchange of gunfire with terrorists inside the complex, Chidambaram said.

There was some firing from the terrace of the Cama Hospital but suddenly there was silence, he said narrating the developments that took place in Mumbai on November 26 when 10 heavily-armed terrorists struck in the financial capital.

"This was followed by the sound of firing from the direction of St Xavier's College. Shri Karkare directed his team to take position at the same spot and, accompanied by Shri Kamte and Shri Salaskar, got into the police jeep, a Qualis vehicle, belonging to the ACP Pydhonie Division and drove in the direction of St Xavier's College," he said.

"Arun Jadhav, the surviving policeman, has stated that the Qualis was passing the ATM centre of a bank located on Rang Bhawan Lane, off the Badruddin Tayyabji Marg, when two terrorists opened indiscriminate fire from behind the bushes on the other side of the lane.

"One of the occupants of the Qualis vehicle returned the fire which caused injuries to the hand of one of the terrorists (later identified as Mohd Ajmal Amir). Shri Karkare, Shri Kamte, Shri Salaskar and three others were gravely injured," he said.

"The two terrorists pulled out the three injured officers from the front and middle seats and hijacked the Qualis vehicle along with the four men whom the terrorists believed were dead. Shri Arun Jadhav was covered by the bodies of his three colleagues and thus remained undetected," Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram said Ajmal Amir has corroborated the portion of the story where he and his companion opened fire on a Qualis vehicle, believed that all the occupants had been killed and hijacked the vehicle.

Phad had witnessed the incident from a close distance and is witness to the movements of the two terrorists who took cover behind some bushes and fired on the Qualis vehicle, pulled out three injured men and eventually hijacked it, he said.

Chidambaram appealed to members of Parliament and "fellow citizens that this is time to salute the dedication and bravery of the police officers and their men. This is the time to help their families, especially their children, to cope with the tragedy. This is the time for the whole country to stand united and carry on a determined fight against terror.

Also See: Complete Coverage on Mumbai Terror

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