Hemant Karkare was decisive and determined, one could gather in the very first interaction. That he had a strong value system and was a rationalist, you would soon find out. He was not a man in a hurry. Nor was he impulsive. He would listen carefully and deliberate before offering any opinion. Conversations with him were never superficial.
In our carefree days, we had both once compered the famous Diwali ‘Melava’ show of Mumbai Police. It was fun and full of light-hearted banter. I never heard him laugh aloud but he had an interesting way of smiling; till the weight of the uniform became so heavy that I found him frowning quite often.
As our responsibilities in the services grew, we got busy but would still meet during conferences. A man of few words, when Karkare raised his hand to make a point everyone listened; because he would speak only if it had substance. Otherwise he was a patient and keen listener.
He was a professional. Leaving behind a lucrative career in an MNC, he enrolled in the Indian Police Service as a mission. He was famed for his systematic and rational approach. A no-nonsense officer, he would hunt the devil in the details, burning the midnight oil while many of us slept.
He was also a complete family man and took keen interest in bringing up his three children. He and his late wife, Kavita, were hands-on parents. I found them deeply involved in deciding what the children should or should not do. The proof is in the pudding: all three are doing well in their lives today.
I think why Hemant engendered respect from both his juniors as well as seniors is because he was a man of unimpeachable integrity.
I recall receiving a call one evening from him checking to see if I had visited a particular restaurant in Dadar, Mumbai, for a meal.
“Yes,” I confirmed that I had.
“Never go there again,” he advised.
“Why?” I enquired.
“Because the restaurant owner has sent an SMS about your presence to all his contacts, and I’ve received it too,’ was his cautionary reply. He was frank in his feed back, and a true friend.
Just before he was martyred, I’d invited him for a talk in CID, Pune, and he called me to say that he won’t make it as he was busy with an investigation. I interrupted him to say that the event date was a month away. He was silent for a minute and then apologised as he had mixed up dates and thought it was three days later. This was not like him and I realised that he was very stressed.
To be Chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad of Maharashtra is like wearing a crown of thorns and it does take its toll. Hemant was no exception, we could all see it. What we could not see, unfortunately, was that our brave colleague would leave us so soon in the line of duty.
When I went to pay my last respects, the bullet-wound in his forehead looked deep and I shuddered thinking of the many others that lay unseen below the white sheet.
Pragya Thakur, you should have been there to honour the brave men who faced a storm of gunfire so that you and I could sleep safely. If you could not honour them when they were alive, at least don’t dishonour them in death. Remember, in showing disrespect to a martyr you are disrespecting the nation as a whole. We, the citizens, would never forgive you for this.
Sorry, Hemant, for what Pragya Thakur has tried to do to you. The nation loves and respects you. Rest in peace, my brave friend.
The author, Meeran Chadha Borwankar, is a retired Director General of the Indian Police Service (IPS).
She believes that her uniform enables her to expedite the social change she wants to see in India, especially for girls and women.
To contact Meeran, visit her website: