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With you, For you, Always

A tribute to the unknown policemen who died on 26/11

india Updated: Dec 03, 2008 22:25 IST

Prakash More, Police Sub-Inspector
Shot at Cama Hospital
‘He didn’t even have a bulletproof jacket’

It’s not hard to find out where Police Sub-Inspector Prakash More used to live.

A giant hoarding with a condolence message has been erected just outside Deen Dayal Nagar, a tribute to a man who served the force for 28 years and lost his life to eight bullets fired by terrorists on November 26.

His widow Madhvi, like most policemen’s wives, is unhappy with what More had to go through on the force. He was harassed and pressurised, she said, adding: “He never got a holiday or leave. We never had a proper family life.” The last holiday the family took was in May, to her village in Mahad. But More could be with him for just a few hours as he had to attend a training session in Nashik.

Madhvi is adamant on not allowing her son or daughter to join the force. “I will never support such a decision,” she said.
She lamented that her husband, like the entire force, was ill-equipped to deal with terror attacks. “All he had was a small handgun. How could he fight those terrorists? He didn’t even have a bulletproof jacket.”

Arun Chitte, Vijay Salaskar’s driver
Shot at Metro junction
‘There is nobody to take care of the family’

Few know encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar didn’t die alone when he took on the terrorists. Salaskar’s driver Arun Chitte (37) was with him, refusing to abandon his boss of many years.

A bullet in the chest snatched away the patriarch of the family — that included his wife Manisha (28), and three daughters, Komal (10), Snehal (9) and Khushi (4) — that resides at the Dharavi police quarters.

The family has gone to their native village, Veergaon, for the funeral rituals. “We miss Chitte’s quiet presence. As he was away the entire day on work, we met him only at night,” said Raju Ghadi, another neighbour. “He was a family man. On Sundays, he would love to spend time with his daughters.”

Over the phone, Chitte’s elder brother Pandari Nath explained how he went to collect the body and brought back the family to their village. “He was cremated with a gun salute and the Mumbai and Nashik police were present,” he said with a hint of pride in his quivering voice.

Baburao Mane, chairman of Chhatrapati Shivaji Vidyalaya, where Chitte’s daughters study, has said he will take care of the girls’ education. “I have decided to waive the fees for his daughters. The family need not worry about that.”

MC Chaudhary, RPF Inspector
Shot dead at CST
‘His life was spent nurturing his family’

One bullet was all it took to shatter a humble dream. Six years away from retirement, Railway Protection Force (RPF) Inspector M.C. Chaudhary was content with the marathon struggle of bringing up his family comprising parents, seven brothers and three sisters.

The bullet, amongst the several rounds fired indiscriminately on November 26 hit his left arm, pierced his chest and ended the journey before he could see his children settle down.

The 55-year-old, who died in the firing at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), has a daughter of marriageable age and a schoolgoing son.

“His entire life was spent nurturing the family. Now his brothers have grown up, but he is not alive to reap the fruits of his hard work,” said Snehalata, his wife.

Born in a lower-middle-class household in Khandesh near Bhusalwal, the eldest son had little freedom to chase his own dreams.

“For the 26 years we were married, his daily schedule comprised 10 to 12 hours of work and three hours of commuting between Ambernath and CST,” said Snehalata in their single-room flat — her only possession.

Vijay Khandekar, Police Constable
Shot at Cama Hospital
‘We didn’t think anyone would harm cops’

Constable Vijay Khandekar is survived by wife Shraddha (32), daughter Samrudhi (4) and mother Nirmala — all too stunned to speak. “We didn’t know how serious the situation was. We didn’t think that anyone would harm policemen,” said brother Ashok (41).

The family was informed of Khandekar’s death the morning after the attack. In a trance, Ashok went to GT Hospital to claim the body and sent his wife Akshata to his brother’s home to break the news. The family knew what had happened when it saw Akshata in tears.

Khandekar was very close to his mother and dedicated to his family. “He would ask Nirmala for advice on everything — even on shoes. He had no vices and his record was flawless,” said Ashok. Khandekar was on leave when he got news of the attacks.

He rushed to Cama Hospital and is believed to be the only constable from the Azad Maidan police station actively involved in the incident.

Shashank Shinde, Senior Inspector, RPF
Shot at CST
‘I feel a huge burden on my shoulders’

Shashank Shinde (46) was one of the first officers to be shot at by the terrorists at CST. He rushed out of his office as soon as he heard the first shots. He returned fire, but his service revolver was no match for the terrorists’ assault rifles.

“Shinde’s (action made an impact). The terrorists were forced to flee CST. But before that, they attacked him from behind. He was hit by four bullets, died within minutes,” said Uttam, his brother. Shinde is survived by his wife Manasi and two daughters aged 18 and 14. “My brother always gave his duty top priority. He would hardly meet us on days when he was on duty, but he was always there at family gatherings,” said Smita Bhonsale, Shinde’s elder sister.

Baburao Dhurgude, Police Sub-Inspector
Shot at Cama Hospital
‘He only wanted to see us succeed’

We just thought there was some rioting. Nothing more,” said Dhurgude’s 18-year-old son Vishal. Dhurgude had been watching the match with his son when his cellphone rang and he left in a hurry. “There’s no cable at home, so we had no access to the news. Our father had it removed so we could concentrate on our studies,” said 21-year-old Poonam.

It was only when the newspapers arrived the next morning that the Dhurgude family realised the magnitude of what had been happening. “My mother told me to call my father to make sure he was okay. I couldn’t get through, so I called his friend. We thought he was just injured. But when I got to the hospital, I was asked to identify his body,” said Vishal.

Working with the Anti-Terrorism Squad, Dhurgude’s job was fraught with danger, but he never took his work home. “He never talked about work. He was simple — enjoyed cricket and old movies,” said Neelam, a second-year student.

Ambadas Pawar, Constable
Shot at CST
‘It took 2 hours to find his body’

Ambadas Pawar (29) would have been home in Kawte village in Satara by December 1 for his brother Sunil’s wedding. Instead, two bullets from terrorists ended his life.

Shivam Salukhe, his roommate and friend, was the first to learn of his death when he called Pawar on his mobile phone.

Someone at St George’s Hospital answered to tell him about the fatal shootout. “It took us two hours to find Pawar amid the mounting bodies,” recalled Salukhe.

In the one-room dwelling Pawar shared with three friends, a bundle of blue polythene lies in a corner. “These are the saris Pawar had bought to take home for the wedding,: said Rahul Dewde, another roommate.

(Lina Choudhury-Mahajan, Soubhik Mitra, Joydeepa Sarma, Hussain Khanbhai, Riddhi Shah, Mauli Buch, Mini Pant Zachariah)