26/11 Mumbai terror attacks: Remembering Vijay Salaskar, the 'one-man show’
- Vijay Salaskar was martyred among many in the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai in 2008
- Salaskar was known for being a 'one-man show'
- Salaskar's wife Smit described the hanging of Ajmal Kasab as a 'homage' to her husband
It’s been 13 years since the dreaded 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 took place. And to date, it manages to open up the wounds of the families, who were involved, directly or indirectly, in the attack. It has been a difficult journey for the loved ones of Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte, Tukaram Omble, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who lost their lives while fighting the LeT terrorists in the heart of Mumbai.
Encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar was killed among many in the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai in 2008. Known for being a ‘one-man show’, Salaskar did not have many star encounter specialists working under him during his career.
He was among the frontrunners in eliminating the Arun Gawli gang in Mumbai and Gawli is said to have feared Salaskar the most. The top cop was credited with 70 odd encounters and won bravery awards posthumously.
Slain Salaskar, Hemant Karkare, and IPS officer Ashok Kamte were killed outside the Cama Hospital in south Mumbai after Ajmal Kasab and his partner Ismail opened fire at their police van during.
When Kasab was given the death penalty and later hanged, Salaskar’s wife - Smita - described the hanging of Kasab as a ‘homage’ to her husband.
"Though the execution was delayed, Kasab was finally hanged. With this hanging, homage has been paid to my husband. But the real homage will be the conviction of other accused shielded in Pakistan," PTI quoted Smita.
Kasab was hanged ahead of the fourth anniversary of the attack and Smita said, ‘The entire family is happy to hear the news that Kasab was hanged.
In July of 2011, Salaskar's daughter, Divya, got a government job on compassionate grounds.
She got the job more than two years after the 26/11 terror strike, only after the intervention of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. Divya was appointed as Assistant Commissioner of Sales Tax, Mumbai.
Vijay Salaskar hardly spent any time at home but idolised his wife and daughter. For Divya, he was her best friend, her ‘control room’ for every problem and most importantly, just her ‘Dad’.
In order to pay homage to the slain top cops, a memorial was built in Kalyan. This memorial honoured the five Bravehearts who were killed during the attack in 2008 - Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Tukaram Ombale.
The last conversation
In an exclusive interview, Divya recalled learning about the attack on the television. Terrified, she called up her father, asking ‘Where are you? This doesn’t look good.’ To which he replied, ‘I am at the spot.’ It was 11:57 PM.
And the next thing that followed changed their lives forever. 'Encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar dies in the attack,' news channels said.
Salaskar was among the first causalities along with Karkare and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte.
Recap of the attack:
The terror attacks began on November 26 and lasted until November 29. The terrorists attacked the city's landmarks like Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Hotel, Leopold Cafe and Cama Hospital, among others.
The terrorists infiltrated India through the Arabian Sea. The attacks began around 9.30 pm when two men entered the passenger hall of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and opened fire.
After continued firing on pedestrians on the streets, they then headed to Cama Hospital but soon was confronted by a team of Mumbai Police headed by Hemant Karkare. Karkare was killed along with two other officers -- Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte -- in the gun battle.
Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist who was caught alive by the Mumbai Police.
In an exclusive interview, six years after the attack, the then chief of Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad Himanshu Roy reassured that the city was safer.
He said: ‘Mumbai ko haath lagana mushkil hi nahin namumkin hai.’