| Namdev's sister and mother at the airport. (PTI)
Mumbai, May 25: Since he stepped out in public in the early hours this morning and reappeared at a court in Bandra, two things have stood out about constable Raj Namdev. His smile — after killing his superior and holding six colleagues hostage for six hours — and his repeated demands to speak to the media.
Remanded in police custody till May 31 for murdering deputy commandant A.R. Karandikar in Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Namdev had refused to set free his hostages last night until he was given an opportunity to meet the media.
The 22-year-old jawan of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) — now in charge of airport security — relented after his parents intervened.
He had wanted to “express his views” but could not. When he was being whisked away after he laid down his rifle at 12.30 this morning, Namdev emerged out of the airport enclosure composed, a smile hanging between his young lips.
Apart from the initial raving and uncontrolled screaming after the shooting, when Namdev pulled out someone else’s gun and pumped nine bullets into his senior officer, the constable has appeared remarkably calm.
Police and airport sources said closed-circuit television showed Namdev laughing and joking with his hostage colleagues, five of them women. “At no point did he appear intent on harming them,” deputy police commissioner Bipin Bihari said.
Once he realised that his actions were being recorded, Namdev yanked off the connection and may even have fired some shots at the TV set.
A senior police officer, commenting on the television pictures, said there was a surprising show of bonhomie between the hostages and their “tormentor”. The “seven of them seemed to have some sort of an understanding”, he said.
Could they have had one'
Deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal denied the theory that Namdev killed his superior after being denied a day’s leave to be present at his father’s operation. But he did hint at harsh working conditions in the CISF.
The accused’s father, R.. Namdev, went several steps further. “All the officers were harassing my son,” the pained father, a CISF man himself, said.
“It is the officers who make arbitrary decisions and force decent people to do these things. My son had even got an award from the CISF.”
CISF officials agreed that conditions are taxing. “These jawans work 12-hour shifts and often their leave applications are dismissed,” said one.
“The spate of terrorist attacks on Indian cities has added to the psychological and physical burden of these jawans.”
On the day of the incident, Namdev had left home around 3 am for a shift that started at 5. He worked for 12 hours and when around 5.30 pm, he approached Karandikar for a day’s leave, only to be refused, the constable lost his head.
Does he have more than this to tell the media'