Slain Mumbai police’s officer once again fuels conspiracy theories

Vinita Kamte's findings about how her husband was killed during 26/11 Mumbai attack is different from that of the government's

By Hardnews Bureau

Circumstances of how the three Mumbai police officers were killed during the terror strike on November 26 last year is far from settled. Earlier this issue was raised by the Union Minister for minority affairs, A R Antulay. His remarks kicked off a serious controversy that even imperiled his position in the cabinet. Subsequently, his doubts were responded to by the newly appointed Home Minister, P Chidambaram. For a while, it seemed his response had succeeded in satisfying a vast legion of skeptics, till the wife of another slain officer, Vinita Kamte, came up with her own findings of how her husband, Ashok Kamte, and two others, Hemant Karkare and Salasikar were killed. And by all standards, Vinita Kamte's probe findings are not entirely in consonance with the version of Mumbai Police as well as that of the central government.

Kamte's version has begun to provide grist to the conspiracy theory mills. One of the popular theories suggests that ATS Chief, Hemant Karkare, who was investigating the involvement of Hindu terrorists in the Malegaon blasts, may have been killed by a Hindu terrorist. Such theories have ensured brisk sale of Urdu newspapers, who have been taking advantage of their preponderantly minority community's readers skepticism to government version and their new found respect for the intrepid police officer. Kamte's latest version, therefore, has got prominent space in the Urdu press. Hardnews, which has been tracking Urdu press finds reluctance amongst its readers to accept that Karkare and Kamte may have been killed the way the government has been claiming. 

According to the report that has appeared in Mail Today (January 14, 2009), Vinita Kamte claims that her husband, Ashok, exchanged fire with Muhammad Kasab and shot him in his hand.  "There were no side injuries on Kamte's body. He was shot in the shoulder and in the front, which means he was facing them", explains Vinita. After being hit, ACP collapsed back into the car. "That's how the bodies were of the three officers were found in the car." Government version claims that the bodies were pulled out from the vehicle by the terrorists, who later hijacked it. 

She further claims that the escort vehicle accompanying Ashok Kamte with six armed policemen was following this car, but was stopped by the police cordon. Kamte's wife claims that if the escort had reached the site of incident then probably story would have been different. The government version claims that Anti-terrror Chief, Hemant Karkare's armed escort was with him and that it took up position against the terrorists.

The story that she has pieced together suggests that nearly all the police officers had abandoned their posts and even the control room- and there was no help forthcoming from anywhere. Save for a few policemen, who challenged the terrorists, they practically faced no resistance. Although ancient 1930 vintage Lee-Enfield rifles that were used by Mumbai police have been criticized, but their accuracy and ability to breach even body armour remains undisputed. The question remains: Why did none of the policemen or beat constable take a pot shot at the terrorists? After all, it needed only one bullet to find its mark.