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'My father wouldn't like me crying over his death'
December 29, 2008
Text: Prasanna D Zore. Photographs: Arun Patil
'Top cop' and 'encounter specialist' are a couple of sobriquets that were used to describe Vijay Salaskar. After all, he was responsible for taking on the city's dreaded underworld and had killed 78 hard core gang members owing allegiance to gangsters like Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel and Arun Gawli.
On the night of November 26, the officer unfortunately fell to terrorist Ismail Khan's bullets near the Cama Hospital. He had joined Anti-Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte to counter the terrorists that terrible night when ten terrorists laid siege across south Mumbai.
Unfortunately, all three officers died in the fatal attack which also killed three other police personnel. Only Police Inspector Arun Jadhav, who was hit by four bullets, survived miraculously.
Like he did usually, Vijay Salaskar (by the virtue of being in the driver's seat) led from the front. If some reports are to be believed, Salaskar injured Ajmal Amir Iman Kasab twice in his right hand. Kasab, now in police custody, has admitted to being hit twice in the hand by bullets.
Ismail Khan, Kasab's accomplice, fired at the Toyota Qualis in which the policemen were travelling towards the Cama Hospital. Two bullets struck Salaskar in the neck and the stomach, wounding him fatally.
Though these deaths still send shivers down the spine of the entire city, Salaskar's family -- his mother, wife and daughter -- maintain a stoic calm even in such adversity.
"I can't see myself crying and pitying myself for what has happened to my father. He wouldn't like me doing that at all," says his daughter Divya as she struggles to find time between visitors and her father's memories to study for her MHCET (Maharashtra Common Entrance Test) examination due in early 2009.
While a lot has been written about Vijay Salaskar, the encounter specialist, rediff.com spoke to his mother, wife and daughter to know more about him as a son, husband and father.
Image: Vijay Salaskar's wife Smita in front of his photograph.
Also see: How the police saved hundreds of lives at the Oberoi