Text and Photographs: Prasanna D Zore
A dignified Tarabai Omble, stepped up to the Presidential podium to receive the Ashok Chakra, the country's highest bravery award in peacetime.
As the Delhi winter chill swept through the dais, she heard the account of her husband's valour as it was announced in a measured tone over the public address system. She stood still, stoic in her grief, mustering up all her resolve to hold herself up at the moment when the country was honouring her husband with that most-esteemed badge of courage.
Tarabai had left her Mumbai home early on January 22 to travel to New Delhi for the award. In the two months since her husband's death, she had grieved in her home with her four daughters. The girls, forming a ring of support around her.
"My father's heroics surely deserve an Ashok Chakra," says his daughter Vaishali, a couple of days before the award was formally announced. Pursuing a BEd degree from SNDT, Mumbai University, she has received several offers from well-wishers to work in information technology, but the 20-year-old is adamant about becoming a teacher.
"After all, that's what my father wanted me to be," she says. While Tukaram Omble never forced his will upon his four daughters, he was personally happy about Vaishali's chosen career option.
In a daredevil and exemplary act of bravery, Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble confronted Amir Ajmal Kasab, one of the 10 terrorists that had unleashed mayhem on the night of November 26 in Mumbai. Omble, along with police personnel from the D B Marg Police station, apprehended two terrorists at the police barricade at Girgaon Chowpatty.
Armed with only a baton, Omble pounced on Kasab, taking a hail of bullets in his stomach from the terrorist. In spite of being grievously injured, he did not let him escape and lost his life subsequently. It was because of his bravery that the police could capture the lone terrorist alive.
Image: A framed photograph of Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble along with several awards received for his bravery at his home in Worli, north-central Mumbai.
Also see: 'Tukaram Omble deserves an Ashok Chakra'