Friday, December 26, 2008

WHO KILLED HEMANT KARKARE?

Photo of female Hindu 'terrorist' Pragya Thakur (centre in yellow), who was allegedly trained at India's Bhosla Military School. (http://specials.rediff.com/news/2008/nov/04sld1.htm)


On 15 december 2008, at Samar magazine, the editorial was entitled: Who Killed Hemant Karkare?

Among the points made:

1. In India, a thorough professional probe was being carried out into a terror network involving Hindu extremist organisations and people linked to the Indian security services.

The lead investigator was Hemant Karkare, Chief of the Maharasthra Anti-Terrorism Squad, whose office was in the centre of Mumbai.

Karkare and two of his colleagues were killed during the Mumbai attacks of November 2008.

Karkare

2. Hemant Karkare "was unearthing a terror network unlike any that has been seen thus far."

The investigation started by tracing the motorcycle used to plant bombs in Malegaon, North East of Mumbai, in September 2006.

The motorcycle was traced to a Hindu nun called Pragyasingh Thakur.

Reportedly, the man who planted the bombs was Ramji.

Thakur, in a cellphone conversation with Ramji, asked why more people had not been killed.

Lt Col Srikant Purohit of Indian military intelligence

3. Karkare's team discovered that Lt.Col. Srikant Purohit, of Indian military intelligence, had got 60 kg of RDX explosive from government supplies for use in the terrorist attack on the Samjhauta Express train in February 2007.

In this attack, 68 people were killed.

Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Islamist groups had originally been accused of carrying out the attack.

Photo of Samjhauta Express from http://www.arf-asia.org/amana/prod/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=34&Itemid=69


4. The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi (a Hindu), and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, L.K.Advani (a Hindu) accused Karkare of being a 'desh drohi' or traitor, "a charge that in India carries a death penalty".

The Shiv Sena (Hindu group) offered legal aid to those accused of the terrorist attack.

On November 26, just before the Mumbai 'terrorist' attack, the police in Pune received a call from an anonymous caller saying in Marathi that Karkare would be killed in a bomb blast within two or three days.


Karkare

5. Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze was one of those who disliked Karakare.

Vaze, a member of Hindu nationalist group Shiv Sena, together with three colleagues, was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and concealment of a dead body in the case of Khwaja Yunus shortly before the terrorist attack.

(Bombay police stage-managed his “encounter”, The Milli Gazette.)

Vaze had been dismissed for corruption, extortion and links with the underworld.



6. The death of Karkare.

The earliest reports, presumably from the police, said that Karkare had been killed at the Taj.

In the early hours of the 27th, IBNlive showed footage of a shootout at the Metro cinema , where an unconscious man who looks like Karkare and wearing the same light blue shirt and dark trousers (but without any blood on his shirt or the terrible wounds we saw on his face at his funeral) is being pulled into a car by two youths in saffron shirts.

The commentary reports that there were two vehicles, a Toyota Qualis and Honda City, from which the occupants were firing indiscriminately.

Later we were given two accounts of the killings where the venue is shifted to a deserted lane without cameras or eye-witnesses.

The first account is by 'arrested gunman' Ajmal Amir Kasab.

According to Kasab, just two gunmen, he and Ismail, went to Cama, a government hospital for women and children used mainly by the poor.

Initially, according to the police, Kasab claimed he and Ismail had killed Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte.

Later, in his confession, he claimed that while coming out of the hospital, he and Ismail saw a vehicle stop some distance away. A police officer got out and started firing at them, hitting Kasab on the hand so that he dropped his AK47, but Ismail opened fire on the officers in the car until they stopped firing. There were three bodies in the vehicle, which Ismail removed, and then drove off in it with Kasab.

The other account is by police constable Arun Jadhav.

According to him, Karkare, Salaskar, Kamte, a driver and four police constables including himself were driving down the alley from Victoria Terminus to the back entrance of Cama (barely a ten-minute drive) in their Toyota Qualis to check on injured police officer Sadanand Date when two gunmen emerged from behind trees by the left side of the road and sprayed the vehicle with bullets, killing all its passengers except Jadhav.

They then dragged out the three officers, hijacked the vehicle, drove to Metro junction and then Mantralaya in South Bombay, abandoned it when a tyre burst, and grabbed another car. According to police accounts, they then drove to Girgaum, where Kasab was injured and arrested and his companion killed.

7. Kasab claimed that a band of ten terrorists landed and split up into two's, going to various destinations, he and his companion going to VT.

He said they wanted to blow up the Taj, as in the attack on the Marriott in Islamabad; yet we are told that only 8kg of RDX were found at the Taj, and even that was not used; contrast this with 600kg of RDX and TNT used to blow up the Marriott: could they really have expected to blow up the Taj?

Taj Hotel By Joe Zachs. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joezach/

8. How did the invaders from the sea get one bomb to go off in Dockyard Road and another in Vile Parle, 25 kilometres away?

9. Kasab said that the terrorists planned to use their hostages as a means of escape, yet there was no attempt at any such negotiations; at other times, he also said they had been instructed to fight to the death.

10. Kasab says he is a labourer from Faridkot near Multan and only studied up to Class IV, but it is reported that he speaks fluent English.

11. Several people have pointed out that the pictures of him in VT show him wearing a saffron wrist-band, a Hindu custom, and police later revealed that he could not recite a single verse from the Koran, which any child growing up in a Muslim family would have been able to do.

12. An article on the soc.culture.jewish group argued that none of the terrorists were Muslims, given their appearance and behaviour (especially their reported consumption of alcohol and drugs), pointing out that they did not need to disguise themselves, since Muslims who look like Muslims are plentiful in Bombay, and would not attract undue attention.

Kasab

13. During his interrogation, Kasab said that he and eight of the operatives had done a reconnaissance trip to Bombay a few months back, pretending to be students and renting a room at Colaba market, which is close to Nariman House.

It is extremely hard for Pakistani nationals to get Indian visas, and they are kept under close surveillance by the police; it is also most unlikely that the Indian immigration authorities would be fooled by forged passports of another country. In that case, the Indian immigration authorities would have visa applications of nine of the terrorists including Kasab, and could match the photographs in them to those of the terrorists: has this been done?

Later, Kasab changed his mind and said that the team who carried out reconnaisance was different from the team who had carried out the attacks.

14. According to witnesses, two gunmen started firing at the mainline terminus in VT at 21:55 on Wednesday night, but at precisely the same time, according to CCTV footage, two gunmen began an assault on the suburban terminus. If the first account is true, there were four gunmen at the station: where did the other two come from, and where did they go?

15. We are shown video footage, claiming to be CCTV but without the timeline of normal CCTV footage, of Kasab and Ismail wandering around the parking lot near the mainline terminus.

This surely cannot be before the shootout, since the station is completely deserted.

And after the shootout, Kasab and Ismail are supposed to have escaped via the footbridge from Platform 1 of the suburban station on the other side of VT: this, again, suggests there were four gunmen.

16. Even if Kasab and Ismail had been shown photographs of Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte before they embarked on their trip, how could they possibly have identified the police officers in a dark alley in the dead of night according to Kasab's first story? According to his later confession, a police officer got out of the vehicle and started firing first, injuring him.

How, then, did Ismail manage to kill the rest by himself?

17. Witnesses in Cama hospital say the terrorists spoke fluent Marathi (the language spoken around Bombay), and this report has been confirmed.

The gunmen appear to have made a beeline for the 6th floor (which was empty) and the terrace.

Was it because they would have a direct view of the lane in which Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte were later supposedly killed?


18. In his first account, the policeman called Jadhav said Karkare was in the second row of the Qualis vehicle, while in the second account he was supposed to be in the front row with Kamte.

In the second account, Salaskar was initially sitting behind the driver, but then asked the driver to slow down and got behind the wheel himself: is it plausible that an experienced encounter specialist would deliberately make himself into a sitting duck like this when they were in hot pursuit of terrorists?

In the first account they were supposed to be going to check up on their injured colleague Sadanand Date, but in the second were supposed to be looking for a red car in which they had been told the gunmen were traveling.

If the report about the red car was a decoy to lure them into an ambush, it is important to know who told them that the terrorists were in a red car.

If the gunmen were firing from the left side, as Jadhav claimed, how was Karkare hit three times in the chest while Jadhav himself got two bullets in his right arm?

In fact, the only vegetation in that part of the lane is on the right side and has wire netting around it; it would be necessary to climb over the netting to hide behind it, and climb over again to come out: impossible under the circumstances.

Witnesses say only two bodies were found at the spot next morning: what happened to the third officer? Who were the three constables killed?

How did two terrorists manage to kill six police personnel, including Karkare and Kamte who he said were armed with AK47s and Salaskar, an encounter specialist, when one terrorist was later captured and the other killed by policemen armed only with two rifles and lathis? Assistant Police Inspector Ombale was killed in that encounter, but his colleagues survived.

19. There was also an intriguing report in DNA on 28 November saying that Anand Raorane, a resident of a building opposite Nariman House, heard sounds of celebration from the terrorists there when the news of Karkare getting killed was flashed on TV: isn't that strange?

The same report quoted a resident of Nariman House and a local shopkeeper who said that the terrorists had purchased large quantities of food and liquor before the attack, suggesting that more than two of them were planning to occupy the place for a long time.

20. Another DNA report, on 2 December, said that sub-inspector Durgude, who had been posted in front of St Xavier's College, between Cama Hospital and the exit point of the back lane onto Mahapalika Road, saw two young men whom he took to be students and called out to warn them that there was firing at Cama. When they ignored him, he approached them, upon which one of them turned an AK47 on him and killed him.

If Kasab and Ismail were there, who was firing inside Cama? Eye-witnesses in St Xavier's saw a man shot and lying on the pavement in front of the college around 12.30 a.m., while about three gunmen stood over him: who was that?

21. Various reports said that two to eight terrorists were captured alive. Now there is only one in police custody: what happened to the other(s)?

22. "A careful scrutiny of all the reports available so far suggests, to this writer anyway, that the killing of Karkare and his colleagues was a premeditated act, executed by a group that had stationed gunmen at various points along the general route between VT and the Metro cinema with a view to maximising their chances of a successful murderous assault.

"We have too much bitter experience of investigations in which innocent people (usually Muslim youth) are rounded up, tortured and even killed, while the real culprits are allowed to go free. Karkare broke with this dismal record, but now he is dead.

"When a person who has been vilified, slandered and threatened with death is killed in suspicious circumstances, it is imperative that a proper investigation should be carried out soon, before too much evidence can be manufactured and/or destroyed.

"If Kasab aka Iman disappears or is assassinated like Lee Harvey Oswald, or is executed, that would be further evidence of a conspiracy."

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