The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Namdev: Maniac or martyr for a ‘cause’
- More questions than answers

Mumbai, May 26: Raj Namdev doomed himself in a matter of seconds when he shot his deputy commandant A.R. Karandikar last Saturday.

But even as the fate of the 22-year-old fresh recruit to the Central Industrial Security Force lies sealed, uncomfortable questions have started bobbing up.

Why did Namdev do it'

There are no black and white answers yet.

For the jawan, assigned to guard the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, not getting his leave sanctioned has ceased to be an alibi after the CISF came up with evidence that he availed leave twice in the last two months. That he was being harassed by his superiors — mostly Karandikar, as alleged by him — cuts little ice because Namdev was not the only youngster on the hectic airport duty.

Investigators are now trying to unravel the mind of a complicated, paranoid and troubled man who may have perceived himself as a martyr for a “greater cause”.

A CISF jawan on duty at the airport said Namdev, who had won an award for diligence while training for the division at Madhya Pradesh, often complained about the harsh conditions “jawans of the force” were subjected to.

Gaali to sabhi ko padti hain, sirf Namdev ko nahi, lekin usko bahut bura lagta tha (Everybody has a rough time with superiors swearing at them, but Namdev used to feel really bad),” the jawan said.

Namdev may have wanted to prove a point, perhaps even take revenge on behalf of everyone. It is learnt that he talked at length about the “motive” behind his act to the six constables he took hostage after gunning down Karandikar. He told them he was “fighting” on behalf of the entire constabulary.

Throughout the six-hour drama, Namdev was extremely civil to the “hostages”. While he offered them reading material, he also asked them to take care of Meher Banu, who happened to be pregnant. When he finally let them go after surrendering to police, it was obvious he never intended to hurt any of them.

“Duty at the airport is the most stressful. We have to be careful every minute as we have been entrusted with the security of VIPs, people who matter. We are made aware that even the smallest of lapses can have disastrous consequences. He (Namdev) must have just given up and I can understand his frustration, though what he did was unpardonable,” said another CISF jawan.

So, was Namdev’s plan premeditated' Indications are that he had made some plan at least. Maybe, that is why the broad smile after he surrendered.

It could have been the smile of a man who had succeeded in his mission and made a telling point. Namdev even flashed a victory sign to reporters as he was dragged away by the police. Moreover, Namdev’s parents and jawans who knew him say he was a quiet sort of person, a brooder not given to intemperance.

Maharashtra minister of state for home Rajendra Darda, who monitored Namdev’s movements through a closed-circuit television during the hostage drama, said “all of them” seemed to be in a jolly mood. “They were with him. They were laughing and it appeared that they had a soft corner for him,” Darda said. “The hostages had many opportunities to overpower him but they did not.”

A senior police official has gone to the extent of saying that Namdev had told certain news networks about his “plan”. In a fax — obviously not taken seriously by anyone — sent to news agencies, Namdev is reported to have told them to speak about the plight of CISF jawans.

“It is a serious issue, it may have serious repercussions,” Namdev is supposed to have written in the fax.

The police said they have asked the news agencies to locate copies of the fax. This, perhaps, explains why the only demand Namdev made throughout the harrowing drama was to speak to the media.

“He wanted to tell the world what he was going through and what others like him are going through,” his father Lalit Prasad Namdev said.

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