Hemant Karkare (1954-2008), the Former Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Chief of Maharashtra, emerged himself in his profession and had an enviable death while fighting the terrorists in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008. He was conferred with India’s highest peacetime gallantry award – Ashoka Chakra – in 2009.
Hemant Karkare was born on Sunday, 12 December 1954 (age 54 years; at the time of death) in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. DNA He completed his primary education at Chittranjan Das Municipal Primary School, Maharashtra, and his high school education at New English High School, Nagpur. DNA In 1975, Hemant graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur. Hindustan Times
Parents & Siblings
His father, Kamlakar Karkare, worked as a guard in the Central Railways, and his mother, Kumudini Karkare, was a teacher at D Dinanath School in Nagpur. DNA He had a younger brother, Shirish Karkare. The Times of India
Wife & Children
Hemant Karkare got married to Kavita.
They were blessed with two daughters – Jui and Sayali Karkare, and a son – Akash Karkare. The Indian Express Akash Karkare is a freelance writer and filmmaker based in Mumbai. Akash Karkare – Twitter
In 2014, Kavita, 57, died of a brain haemorrhage at P. D. Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Center in Mahim, south Mumbai. The Pioneer Reportedly, the children of Kavita Karkare decided to donate her organs for the treatment of needy patients. The Pioneer
Reportedly, after completing his graduation, Hemant worked at National Productivity Council and Hindustan Lever Limited (now Hindustan Unilever Limited) and later appeared for the Civil Services Examination. DNA
Indian Police Service
Hemant served in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) as well as the Indian mission in Vienna, Austria, as a counsellor for seven years. The Indian Express Reportedly, a story about Karkare was shared by Former Research and Analysis Wing chief AS Dulat when the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 from Kathmandu, Nepal, was hijacked in December 1999, and the RAW was looking for major information about hijackers. AS Dulat revealed that the RAW found an important piece of information through one of the officers in Mumbai, and he was none other than the commissioner of Mumbai police, Hemant Karkare. Daulat said,
The breakthrough came from Mumbai when one of our officers, working continuously without a break for days, found a major link. He found a man who had worked with the hijackers to fund and execute the plot and that suddenly opened up an intelligence treasure trove for us. The man was our intelligence commissioner in Mumbai, Hemant Karkare.” Scroll.in
Reportedly, in 1989, he was posted in the Anti-Narcotics Cell Branch in Thane. According to his daughter, Jui, he would often visit municipal schools and tell them about the importance of studying and staying away from drugs. Mint Hemant, however, was handed over the responsibility to nab drug peddlers. Mint In 1991, he was posted as the Superintendent of Police in Chandrapur – the Naxal-dominated district of Maharashtra. The Indian Express Reportedly, he worked at the Mumbai crime branch as well as the narcotics department. The Indian Express He was posted as a Joint Commissioner of Police before superseding as the chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad. Hindustan Times
Chief of Anti-Terrorism Squad
In January 2008, Hemant Karkare succeeded K. P. Raghuvanshi as the Chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad.
The Malegaon Blasts Case
On 29 September 2008, a blast near a mosque in Malegaon, a Muslim-dominated city in the Maharashtra state of India, left the citizens shaken. According to the sources, the explosives were tied to a motorcycle, parked at the Bhikku Chowk in Malegaon. The Times of India Reportedly, nearly six people were killed and around 101 people were injured. The Times of India As per the reports, Hemant Karkare led the Malegaon blast case. Reportedly, Hemant Karkare, during the investigation, tracked down the owner of the motorcycle which was used to execute the attack. it, however, belonged to Sadhvi Pragya, an Indian politician and Member of Parliament representing Bhopal. India Today The ATS also alleged that the accused arrested in the Malegaon blast case were part of a Hindu extremist group which carried out the blast. India Today Reportedly, after a month of investigation, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), claiming that the execution of the plan was done by the Hindu rightwing groups to target Malegaon’s Muslim population, Hindustan Times arrested eight people including Pragya Singh Thakur aka Sadhvi Pragya; India Today however, she was exonerated from all the charges by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2016, but the court didn’t release her. India Today Reportedly, he was painted as a villain in investigations of the Malegaon blasts. Hindustan Times
The Attacks of 26/11
Reportedly, at 9.45 pm, Hemant Karkare, the head of Mumbai’s anti-terrorism squad, received an urgent phone call while he was having dinner at his home in Dadar, central Mumbai. Rediff Karkare was clued-up on the firing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, in south Mumbai, where he found terminal 01 desolated. Rediff
The targets of the ISI-backed terrorists, dressed as tourists carrying travelling bags, included Cafe Leopold, Chabad House, Rang Bhavan Lane near Cama Hospital, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and the Taj Hotel at the Gateway of India. India Today
As claimed by some sources, despite the fact of having a rudimentary bulletproof jacket that could only resist 9 mm bullets and a service pistol, Rediff Hemant, along with two officers – Additional Commissioner of Mumbai police Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist inspector Vijay Salaskar – and a constable, having some outdated 7.62 mm rifles, got into a police Toyota Qualis and proceeded towards the Cama & Albless hospital as he was informed that the terrorists had protected themselves from being attacked by the police, and senior police officer Sadanand Date was injured and had called for back-up. Rediff According to the sole survivor of the encounter, Constable Arun Jadhav, two terrorists attacked with AK-47 automatic rifles when they were a couple of minutes away from Cama hospital; Rediff however, some sources claimed that when Karkare and other police officials – Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar – were outside the Cama & Albless hospital, one of the terrorists, Kasab, stepped out and sprayed the car with bullets from his AK-47.
According to Constable Matne, after around twenty-five minutes of silence, the injured, Karkare, Salaskar, and Kamate were found covered with blood and laying on the ground and were taken to the hospital. NDTV The doctor, however, declared them dead. NDTV Reportedly, Hemant Karkare’s cremation was held in the Shivaji Park crematorium on Saturday, 29 November 2008. Mumbai Mirror
Events Following the Enviable Death of Hemant Karkare
The ‘Faulty’ Bulletproof Vest
Reportedly, a series of diverse questions were raised in the media including questions against the quality of the bulletproof vest that failed to protect Karkare while fighting the terrorists. According to the sources, Kavita Karkare raised numerous questions about the setback security system of the authority. NDTV She asked the police officials about the reason behind the delay in providing backup to Hemant Karkare and the team. NDTV In an interview, while raising questions about the quality of the bulletproof vest and the delay in providing backup to the team, Kavita Karkare said,
It is being said that my husband, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salskar got killed as they went into the operation blindly but the truth is they kept asking for reinforcements and help for 40 minutes which they never got. For 40 minutes, their bodies were there on the road while the terrorists bodies were rushed to the hospital. They have spent ₹ 22 crore on preserving the bodies of the nine terrorists. But they couldn’t be careful enough to preserve my husband’s bulletproof jacket.” NDTV
According to the sources, one of the top officers of the Mumbai police led the investigation regarding Karkare’s misplaced bulletproof jacket and found that one of the ward boys from the hospital where Karkare, along with others, was admitted, threw it in a dustbin not being familiar with the fact that it belonged to Hemant Karkare. Mumbai Mirror According to the investigative officer, the ward boy admitted that he took the bulletproof vest and threw it into the dustbin; however, the ward boy went missing for some time, and the police officials could not find any evidence to prove his claim. Mumbai Mirror The investigative officer said,
It was only when an enquiry was ordered into the matter, a ward boy from the hospital claimed to have thrown it away. Later, the ward boy also went missing for some time. No one saw him collecting Karkare’s clothes and the jacket nor the hospital had any CCTV records. The enquiry was closed after recording this statement.” Mumbai Mirror
The Hindu Rightwing Group
Reportedly, the members of the Right Wing group, including Abhinav Bharat, were suspected to be responsible for the death of former ATS chief, Hemant Karkare. India Today A petition was filed by a senior police officer of Maharashtra to look into the case of Hemant Karkare. The Supreme Court, however, rejected the petition as Ajmal Kasab’s capital punishment had been executed. India Today
- In December 1983, Hemant received the Best Cadet trophy from the then Union home minister P. C. Sethi at the National Police Academy, Hyderabad. Rediff
- Hemant Karkare received the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service from then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Rediff
- On 26 January 2009, Hemant Karkare was posthumously bestowed with Ashoka Chakra – India’s highest peacetime gallantry decoration.
- As a child, Hemant was so fond of reading that he once got locked in Ramkrishna Math Library in Nagpur as he was lost in reading and no one observed him sitting in the library. Rediff
- Reportedly, during Hemant Karkare’s six-year stint at the cabinet secretariat in the Prime Minister’s Office, he was working with the United States on other assignments. Mint
- In an interview, Jui revealed that her father, Hemant Karkare spoke his last words at 11:28 pm on 26 November 2008. According to her, Hemant’s voice was recorded in a voice note while he was instructing the officials to control the situation near Cama Hospital and requesting them to send the army. Hemant Karkare, in the voice note, said,
ATS and QRT teams are here at the rear gate of the hospital, and so is the crime branch team. Therefore, we need a team from the front side. We need to ENCIRCLE the Cama and surround it.” The Indian Express
- In an interview, Sadhvi Pragya – arrested by the ATS for the Malegaon blast case – claimed that she was falsely arrested by the ATS and said that Karkare died because of his karma. India Today While talking about this, Sadhvi Pragya said,
- Reportedly, Karkare’s daughter Jui Karkare Navare came up with a book titled “Hemant Karkare – A Daughter’s Memoir” in 2019. According to her, writing this memoir helped her to put herself together after losing her father.