Behind the scenes, super sleuths who cracked the case | india | Hindustan Times
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Behind the scenes, super sleuths who cracked the case

Here's a look at who were the key officials behind the entire 26/11 operation, right from intercepting conversations between the terrorists and their handlers across the border, to filing a water-tight chargesheet against Ajmal Kasab.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2012 00:02 IST
HT Correspodents
HT Correspodents
Hindustan Times

Here's a look at who were the key officials behind the entire 26/11 operation, right from intercepting conversations between the terrorists and their handlers across the border, to filing a water-tight chargesheet against Ajmal Kasab.

Ramesh Padmanabh Mahale

Age: 56 years
Designation: Senior Police Inspector (Mumbai Crime Branch)

Ramesh Padmanabh Mahale, 56, senior police inspector of Mumbai crime branch can be labeled as the crisis man of Mumbai crime branch. Most senior IPS officers credit this 1983-batch officer, originally from Mangalore, for his meticulous approach in piecing together every fragment of investigation to build a chargesheet in any case.

Mahale's ability stems from the various departments, apart from the police stations, which includes the economic offences wing and the anti-corruption bureau (ACB). He was also part of the team which investigated Bombay riot cases, and later the 1993 blasts.

Even for a trained hand like Mahale, handling a case of the magnitude of 26/11 terrorist attack was the toughest one in his career. Mahale who was involved in the case from day one, and had seen the entire legal process through the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court, was also present at Yerwada prison when Mohamed Ajmal Amir Kasab was hanged. "It has been one of the toughest case of my life, and I will never forget it. It was also my first case in which an accused was sentenced to death," said Mahale.

To put up the 11,280-page voluminous chargesheet was no mean feat. There were times when Mahale and his men stayed back in their offices to ensure there was no loophole in their papers. And at times have even worked for nearly 20 hours a day. They also had to ensure with the other teams which worked on technical intelligence, interrogation to ensure they did not miss a single point.

Be it the recent Azad Maidan violence case, or the case against 26/11 handler Lashkar-e-Taiba's (LeT's) Syed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, or the famous arrests of 21 Indian Mujahideen in September 2008, Mahale and men from his unit has been called on each occasion to ensure that the chargesheet against the accused is watertight.

The flair, with which he handles each case and its papers, has seen officers from various units of Mumbai police call him for help while handling sensitive cases or those of importance.

But his popularity among his fellow men does not reflect in his demeanor as he welcomes almost anybody readily to his office, and helps out in crisis. Hence, it was not surprising when Mahale was made in-charge of the 26/11 terrorist attack case after crime branch was entrusted with investigation.

- Rahul Mahajani

Dinesh Parshuram Kadam

Age: 46 years
Current Designation: police inspector (ATS)

Designation during 26/11 terrorist attack: Police inspector (Unit-3 Crime Branch)

It was sheer exuberance of a 27-year-old police sub-inspector posted at Worli police station that got Mumbai police its first major lead into the 1993 Bombay serial blast case. Kadam along with his colleague had spotted Rubina Memon's abandoned Maruti van - MMC 1972 - at Worli.

This crucial piece of information, on the very same day of the blasts, gave Mumbai police a clear roadmap for its investigation. Kadam was roped into the core team of Mumbai blast investigation, and his career has grown exponentially since then.

One of the few officers in Mumbai police who has come out unscathed from the Mumbai's underworld era, Kadam focused on the art of interrogation and has earned repute. He was also one of the few officers who were quick to understand the need to monitor terrorists, and organisations that support terrorist activities, and played a key role when Mumbai crime branch arrested 21 Indian Mujahideen men in September 2008.

So it is not surprising that Kadam was asked to crack down Mohamed Ajmal Amir Kasab. "My immediate goal was to extract important information like the number of terrorists who had come with Kasab. It was absolutely crucial information which our forces who were fighting against them wanted," said Kadam.

Even for a trained hand like Kadam, it was a little tough to interrogate Kasab. "Antecedents of a criminal play a crucial role in interrogation. But in this case, we had no knowledge of Kasab's antecedents. It had to be done from scratch. So in that manner it was a touch tougher than other cases," said Kadam.

A graduate from Kirti College, Kadam's penchant for history helped him piece together the dynamics of Mumbai's underworld in a manner which only a few serving officers have done. From the gang leaders to their cronies, a separate personal cupboard, which Kadam maintains and updates in his office, has the minutest details of whose who in Mumbai's underworld.

Kadam, who shies away from media, had earlier cracked the murders of Sunil Khatau, builders Pradeep Jain and Om Prakash Kukreja, hotelier Ramnath Payyade, and attack on filmmaker Rakesh Roshan. He has gunned down 34 dreaded underworld gangsters like Nilesh Kokum, Rajesh Igwe, Mast Chand Sheikh, Mohamed Ali, Salim Haddi, Raju Vikhroli, Raosaheb Killedar, Durga Bhaiyya, Suresh Bhagwe, Mangesh Dhotre, Tiger alias Captain and Suresh Waghmare alias Dedu.

Recently, he played a pivotal role when the Maharashtra ATS cracked the German Bakery Blast case, and investigated the 13/7 blasts. The shelves of his cupboard have seen additions of profiles and pictures of wanted terrorists across the country.

- Presley Thomas

Technical Intelligence (Team)
Arun Chavan
Current Designation: Senior Police Inspector (Vakola)
Designation when 26/11 terrorist strike happened: Police Inspector

Nandkumar Gopale
Current Designation: Police Inspector (Property Cell)
Designation when 26/11 terrorist strike happened: Assistant Police Inspector

Shripad Kale
Designation (Now and Then): Police Inspector (Unit-6 Crime Branch)

Role: Played the crucial role of intercepting phone calls between the terrorists holed up at Hotel Taj, Hotel Oberoi and Chabad House. It was the interceptions they had recorded which made it clear that the attack was a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) conspiracy that was hatched, planned and plotted in Pakistan.

Ninad Sawant
Current Designation: Police Inspector (ATS)
Designation when 26/11 terrorist strike happened: Assistant Police Inspector
He along with Dinesh Kadam played a key role in interrogating Kasab, Sabauddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari. He also played a crucial role in verifying minute aspects of the case which came out during the interrogation of the accused.

Prashant Marde
Designation (Then and Now): Police Inspector (in-charge of Unit 3 Crime Branch)
He along with Mahale played a crucial role in piecing together the chargesheet. Marde was involved with the case since the initial days, and was also involved in the court process in the Bombay high court and the Supreme Court.

Sheru Shinde
Designation (Then and Now): Constable (Unit-3 Crime Branch)
He played a crucial role in writing down numerous statements of witness who were examined, and statements of those accused in the case.