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Stab of fear, then a sense of closure

Mumbai, Nov. 21: Divya Salaskar woke with a start.

It was 8 in the morning and her mother was banging on the door. The 27-year-old felt a stab of fear, then the panic turned to surprise.

Television channels were claiming her father’s killer had been hanged at Pune’s Yerwada jail.

“When my mother knocked, I thought there was another terror attack or something,” said Divya, whose father Vijay Salaskar was part of a police team that was ambushed by Ajmal Kasab and fellow 26/11 gunman Abu Ismail.

“She got a call from a reporter about Kasab’s hanging, but the news was not confirmed then. My mother then telephoned some sources in the police department, and it was true. It still hasn’t sunk in,” Divya told The Telegraph this evening.

Divya, a master’s in human resources who is due to tie the knot soon, said it was a “happy day” for her and her mother, Smita. “We have a small family get-together over dinner at my grandmother’s place this evening. It does bring a sense of closure for me and my family, but the real closure would come when the masterminds of 26/11 in Pakistan are punished and a day comes when I feel that there won’t be another ghastly terror attack.”

Eknath Oombale, too, was happy. Eknath, brother of policeman Tukaram Oombale who pinned down Kasab despite being shot, said the news of the hanging brought “true satisfaction” to all in the family. “Ideally, Kasab should have been hanged in public, but our laws do not allow this.”

Anamika Gupta, a beautician who was shot thrice in the stomach, also questioned the secret execution conducted by a team led by 26/11 braveheart and joint commissioner (law and order) Sadanand Date.

“I did hear the news and I am happy if it is true. But why did it have to be a secret operation? I haven’t seen any direct evidence of Kasab’s execution yet like any photograph or video clip. This perhaps has more to do with India-Pakistan politics.”

But Madhavi More, whose husband, sub-inspector Prakash More, was among those ambushed by Kasab and Ismail on that fateful night, said the government had taken the “right decision” in doing it in secrecy. “Or it could have been further delayed,” she said.

Constable Arun Jadhav, the only man to survive the ambush that killed Salaskar, anti-terror squad chief Hemant Karkare and additional commissioner Ashok Kamte, said: “I was personally satisfied that the man I helped catch after he killed my seniors is no more. There couldn’t have been a better news. I was very close to Vijay Salaskar and saw him die.”

The Qualis carrying Salaskar, Karkare and Kamte came under attack behind Cama Hospital. A burst of gunfire killed everyone in the vehicle except Jadhav, who pretended to be dead and informed the police control room the exact location of Kasab and Ismail who had escaped in a hijacked Skoda. They were later intercepted by Tukaram and his team.

Karkare’s widow Kavita said Kasab’s execution had finally brought peace to her life. “I am very happy with the outcome. For the last four years, my family has not celebrated any festival in our house.”