How tukaram omble armed with courage and only a lathi subdued a terrorist with AK-47
'How we caught the fidayeen alive'
The first thing you notice as you enter D B Marg police station in south Mumbai is the photograph of Tukaram G Omble, who died battling terrorists early on the morning of November 27.
The assistant police sub-inspector had grabbed a terrorist's AK-47 and did not let go even as six bullets ripped through him. Omble knew that if he let go his comrades would also die. His heroic action helped his colleagues kill one terrorist and nab the other -- Ajmal Qasab.
Senior Inspector Nagappa R Mahale is the man in charge of the D B Marg police station. He was on duty when he heard that terrorists had attacked south Mumbai. "The first thing I did was put up nakabandi (police blockades) at two places. There were the two roads that led from south Mumbai to our area."
"When we heard that a Skoda car was heading with two armed terrorists towards Girgaum Chowpatty, I immediately told my men to seal the road and put up two barricades. I did not want them to try and crash through."
"At 0015 am we got the message that the Skoda had entered Marine Drive and was coming towards us. At 0030 the Skoda stopped 50 feet away from our barricades. They knew that they could not go through."
'We know we are brave'
They sprayed water on the windshield, started the wipers and put on the headlights on high beam. Two of our inspectors, Bhaskar Kadam and Hemant Bhoundhankar, fired at the driver and killed him," says Senior Inspector Mahale.
"On the other side, the other terrorist lay down on the road as if in surrender. Omble, who was closest to him, tried to disarm him, by grabbing his gun. But the man fired. Omble did not let go. He was killed, but he saved his colleagues."
"As the terrorist tried to shake off Omble, the rest of the policemen leapt on him. One grabbed his gun while another took out his revolver. The rest hit him with lathi (batons) till he fainted."
"We took the terrorists to the Nair Hospital and our men to the Harkissandas Hospital. Another colleague, Sanjay Govilkar, also had a bullet injury. Omble died in hospital, but Sanjay survived."
"We filed the FIR (First Information Report) and conducted the primary investigation before the Crime Branch took over."
Mahale has been a policeman for 30 years. He has seen the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, riots, blasts in taxis, blasts on trains, and now these attacks. "It has made every Mumbai cop proud. We know we are brave. We know what we are capable of, when the occasion demands."
He presides over 160 policemen and officers, most wielding lathis.
'We fired three shots at the terrorist'
Bhaskar Kadam is an assistant sub-inspector. He joined the force in 1991. He was on duty that night when Inspector Mahale told him to man the Chowpatty check post. He is the main detective at the D B Marg police station and has six detectives reporting to him. Kadam and his men were in mufti when they arrived at Girgaum Chowpatty.
"I was standing on the other side of the divider with ASI Bhoundhankar, who was already there as this was his beat. We were both carrying pistols. We were there from 10 pm. We were getting the news on our wireless of all the happenings in south Mumbai. Our men were behind the barricade."
"Traffic was thinning as time passed. Finally, there were no vehicles on Marine Drive. We had checked every vehicle since 10 pm. Now there were none."
"At 0016 we heard that the terrorists had hijacked a Skoda car. There was a strong possibility that they would come here. On the wireless we got confirmation that they had entered Marine Drive. At 0030 the silver Skoda stopped 50 feet away from our barrier."
"They turned on the wipers and headlights. We shouted, "Headlights off, surrender, get down." For 90 seconds they stood still, then then tried a 'U' turn."
"The road divider obstructed the 'U' turn. I was near the divider. The driver fired two rounds with his left hand. I fired three shots from my pistol. Bhoundhankar also fired three shots. The driver was seriously injured (he died later)."
"My people rushed forward and took his AK-47, and car keys."
"On the other side, the terrorist opened the door and lay down on the road. His gun was still in his hand. The policemen behind the barricade ran towards him. Omble dived on him and tried to take away the gun. The terrorist fired. Omble took six bullets, but did not let go."
"The other policemen then beat the terrorists with their lathis. They took away his AK-47 and a pistol from his pocket. He fainted from the blows. He also had bullet wounds."
'I realised I was shot after we subdued the terrorist'
Sanjay Govilkar rejoined duty on Monday, December 8. He was in civilian clothes. This is because the doctor told him that the police belt, which is very wide, would hurt his bullet wound.
"I was just behind Omble when he jumped on the terrorist, we all did. After we subdued the terrorist I realised that there was a burning sensation in my back. Only then did I realise that I was bleeding badly."
"The bullet had grazed my back. I survived, but my colleague Omble did not."
Sanjay drew a small diagram to explain what had happened that night. "We had put up the barricade in such a way that they could not take a right turn. The blockade was below the bridge. They couldn't go anywhere."
"We knew that the Skoda was coming, so we were all alert. We had taken positions in three different places. We attacked the terrorists from three directions."
"When that terrorist was on the road, policemen were approaching him from the front, from behind the barricade. We were approaching from the back. And two sub-inspectors were just across the divider."
"Omble reached him first, then everyone attacked him with vigour. When we saw that Omble was not letting go of the terrorist's gun, we knew we could not let his sacrifice go in vain. He held on and we completed his unfinished task."
Ordinary bus driver performing extraordinary service for the nation