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Fallen soldier’s father salutes ‘hero’ cop

Bangalore, Nov. 21: A Mumbai cop who took fatal bullets in his abdomen but held on to grapple down a fleeing Ajmal Kasab today got the ultimate salute from a man whose only son died fighting the 26/11 gunmen.

To K. Unnikrishnan, Tukaram Oombale is the day’s “hero”, not his slain commando son, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan.

The retired Isro engineer, whose son died fighting the terrorists who overran Taj Hotel on November 26 nearly four years ago, said Oombale should never be forgotten.

“The hero of the day would be Mr Tukaram Oombale. I saluted him a thousand times today. There is no equal to what he did,” Unnikrishnan told reporters at his home in a Bangalore suburb.

An assistant sub-inspector on duty that night, Oombale had given chase on a motorbike as Kasab fled in a hijacked Skoda. After forcing the car to stop, Oombale grabbed Kasab and his AK-47, taking bullets in his abdomen but giving enough time for those nearby to nab the marauding infiltrator.

“I am the father of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan who fought only in Taj (Hotel). He had nothing to do with Kasab. Today’s hero is certainly Mr Oombale who gave up his life in nabbing Kasab,” said the 63-year-old who is originally from Kerala but has been based here for nearly three decades. “For my wife and I, this is not a day to celebrate or anything. It’s about the closure of one chapter.”

Dressed in a blue striped shirt and trousers, Unnikrishnan, who has been calling for quicker delivery of justice, said the government should focus on getting the big fish. “We now need to get the perpetrators under whose command these terrorists killed so many and wreaked havoc. It’s very clear Kasab was only a pawn. This (execution) is just the closure to the one aspect in that he killed so many innocents. But the larger question remains.”

Unnikrishnan, who was speaking to the media hours after news of Kasab’s hanging broke, appeared composed.

He also had a word of appreciation for prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and the secrecy authorities had maintained in carrying out the punishment. “It was first unbelievable. I never thought it would happen, although he should have been hanged two years ago,” Unnikrishnan said.

His wife Dhanalakshmi, who sat beside her husband as he interacted with the media, didn’t talk much but had a word of advice for the government.

“Tough action against terrorism and such heinous acts against humanity is a must. Our government must ensure those responsible are severely punished so that people can live peacefully,” she said.

Unnikrishnan is busy with a book on his son who chose to join the army and then got a place in the team of elite commandos of the National Security Guard.

The young man was only 31 when he died.