Saturday, November 29, 2008

Karkare: An officer and a gentleman

Hemant Karkare, Chief, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad
Hemant Karkare, Chief, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad
When Mumbai's former police commissioner Julio Rebeiro hailed Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare as one of the finest officers in the country, he was not exaggerating.

A 1982 batch IPS officer, Karkare was a Bachelor of Engineering from Vishveshvarayya Regional Engineering College in Nagpur. He worked for the National Productivity Council and Hindustan Lever before leaving the high-paying jobs for the glamour of the uniform. Hindustan Lever's loss was the country's gain as Karkare showed bright sparks in the very first year of his training - topping the batch in 1983.

Karkare's first assignment was in Bhusawal as assistant superintendent of police in 1984. He was then posted as additional superintendent of police in Nanded 1986. His next posting came in 1987 in Thane. It is this posting that explains why the Shiv Sena targeted Karkare when terror suspect Pragya Singh Thakur was arrested.

In 1998, Karkare took the bold step of arresting Shiv Sena leader Anand Dighe from Thane. The Shiv Sena was trying to foment communal tensions at Haji Malang in Kalyan, where both Hindus and Muslims went to pray. Dighe was to Thane what Bal Thackeray is to Mumbai, and his arrest frustrated the terror tactics of Shiv Sena.

Karkare took over the investigation of the multi-crore shoe scandal and was also in charge of the narcotics division in Mumbai. He was one of the few Maharashtra cadre IPS officers who remained untouched by corruption scandals and controversies during the Telgi case. That could have helped him get a prestigious posting in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Karkare was posted in Austria for almost seven years in his nine years with RAW. She became the head of ATS in January this year after his return to the state cadre.

Karkare solved the serial bomb blasts in Thane, Vashi and Panvel. He also handled the July 2006 Mumbai local train blasts case. Most recently, he was credited for the stunning revelations in the investigation of the September 29 Malegaon blast. During his posting as superintendent of police in Vidarbha's Chandrapur district, people saw a different side of his personality. He created 150 beautiful wood sculptures in the forested area.

Only a few days ago, his batch-mate and one of his close friends, joint commissioner of police K.L. Prasad described him as an "officer who always took a principled stand whatever the consequences". ATS officials fear that his death will clearly derail investigations, as he was the only one who calmly took all the pressure and let his men do the job.

Courtesy: Krishna Kumar / Mail Today

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