It is a sequence of events that has been scrutinised and analysed endlessly by the media. And become the centre of a controversy too, thanks to Minority Affairs Minister AR Antulay.
But for the family of assistant sub-inspector Balasaheb Bhonsale, it is a sequence that has hit cruelly home and meant the difference between life and death.Bhosale, an ex-Army man, was driving the police Qualis in which ATS chief Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Addl Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte set off in chase of the terrorists who were headed for the Cama hospital after their murderous spree at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
|After the pain: Balasaheb Bhonsale’s elder son Deepak and wife Sharada have accepted his loss with pride. (Hemant Padalkar/HT)|
Salaskar asked Bhonsale to move aside and took over the car. Says Bhonsale's eldest son Deepak (30), himself a policeman, “Soon after my father handed over the wheel to Salaskar saab, the terrorists started firing. He told Karkare saab to duck and did so himself but the bullets hit them both. My father took four of them.”
He says it matter-of-factly, keeping his emotions in check. But his younger brother Sachin (27) cannot. At their Naigaon residence, Sachin bursts out, “The loss itself is difficult to bear. But constant sympathy from relatives and acquaintances make the pain unbearable. I wish they'd stop offering their sympathies.”
Balasheb's wife Sharada (53) is more resigned as she says softly, “Anyone who aspires to be a policemen should have the ability and courage to die for the nation. I am a proud veerpatni (wife of a martyr).”
The family now looks forward to the job Sachin hopes to get soon — he has applied for the post of a clerk in Mantralaya. Though he awaits a response, he's geared up for his new responsibilities. “Our father took care of mother and looked after the family,” he says. “I hope to do well in my job and do the same.”