On Thursday, at the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks trial, judge M.L. Taheliyani came down hard on the railway police.
He asked them why they had not chased the two attackers as they escaped from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
“You were not prevented from crossing the railway station limits,” the furious judge said when Railway Protection Force (RPF) inspector Sandip Khiratkar said the two had exited the terminus using the rear foot-overbridge.
The inspector, also in charge of the local-line RPF post, had handed over CDs containing CCTV footage of the two attackers, Ajmal Amir Kasab and his partner Abu Ismail, to the Mumbai police Crime Branch.
Defence counsel Abbas Kazmi cross-examined Khiratkar, who faced the two men along with two RPF men, inspector Atul Kshirsagar and sub-inspector Kiran Bhosale. Khiratkar had fired 20 rounds from a .303 rifle, Bhosale had fired 22.
After the encounter, which occurred at the main entrance of the terminus, the two re-entered the station and moved to the rear end using platform 1, according to Khiratkar.
All three RPF men then moved behind them and entered the station. “We followed them at a distance of 25-30 feet,” Khiratkar said to a question from Kazmi.
When Kazmi asked why they didn’t follow the attackers outside the station, Khiratkar said they thought the duo were still hiding somewhere inside the station.
“We were not sure they’d left the terminus, so we searched the entire area. Later, a city policeman told us the two were gone.”
That’s when Judge Taheliyani fired a volley of questions at Khiratkar: Did anybody prevent you from crossing the railway station limits? Did you not ask the policeman where the two had gone? Was it not your duty to trace the attackers?
Khiratkar replied that they didn't pursue the attackers as they had lost track of them.