The Last bugle - Wife snubs Modi, refuses to turn Karkare into poll pawn
|Hemant Karkare’s children at the funeral. (PTI)|
Mumbai, Nov. 29: Her husband was dead, riddled with terrorist bullets, but Kavita Karkare was in no mood for sympathy, especially from people out to score a few political points.
Yesterday, as the nation simmered, she turned down the Rs 1 crore Narendra Modi had offered her as compensation, and virtually turned the Gujarat chief minister away from her doorstep.
Kavita had broken down at the first sight of her husband Hemant Karkare’s body at St George’s Hospital on Wednesday night. Since then, she has been stoically silent.
Yesterday, the 48-year-old college professor quietly rebelled against the political class.
“She told me ‘they can’t put a valuation on Hemant’s life. I won’t let them gain political mileage using his death’,” Kavita’s sister-in-law Amruta Karkare said after the slain cop’s funeral today.
It was not just Modi who went back quietly after Kavita refused to meet him.
“Didi has refused to meet any politician,” Amruta said.
Kavita, whose blood pressure shot up after she saw her husband’s body, had been advised immediate hospitalisation by doctors at St George’s Hospital who thought she might suffer a stroke.
“But she just brushed away everyone and stayed by her husband’s side, holding his hand. No one could remove her from there. She is very strong-willed,” Amruta told reporters.
“She told me ‘I do not want to cry. I do not want to break down again before people. He would not have liked that’,” Amruta recalled.
Karkare, who headed Maharashtra’s anti-terror squad, additional police commissioner Ashok Kamte and senior inspector Vijay Salaskar had set out in search of the terrorists in a Qualis on Wednesday night when they were ambushed in a narrow lane.
The rebels later threw their bodies out of the vehicle and sped away.
Karkare was to have been cremated yesterday but his daughter Sayali, a student at the London School of Economics, missed her flight from Heathrow, Amruta said. “So we had to delay the cremation.”
This morning, his body was taken in a flower-bedecked open van, accompanied by a police band, from his home in Hindu Colony in Dadar East to the nearby Shivaji Park crematorium.
Over 5,000 people lined the 3km stretch to pay their last respects to the valiant cop. “Hemant Karkare amar rahe”, “Bharat Mata ki jai,” the crowd chanted as the hearse passed.
Top state leaders from all major political parties attended the funeral. Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh came with local leaders and party activists.
NCP president Sharad Pawar was accompanied by deputy chief minister R.R. Patil, his party colleague.
The Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi, the BJP’s Nitin Gadkari and other political leaders — among them many who had spewed venom on Karkare till hours before his death — laid wreaths and garlands on his body.
Earlier, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray visited Karkare’s residence to offer condolences but left quickly after laying a wreath as Kavita refused to meet him.
Maharashtra police chief A.N. Roy and some of Mumbai’s top cops were among the pallbearers. Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor and joint commissioner (crime) Rakesh Maria refused to speak to reporters.
“We have lost one of our finest men. They were some of my best friends,” said Roy, his voice choking with tears as Karkare’s son Akash lit the pyre.