Chief investigating officer says it’s an attempt to highlight good work done by cops
A challenging case that for the first time gave India concrete evidence to show the terrorists had come from Pakistan due to good police work: this is how police officers remembered the investigation into the 26/11 attacks at a book launch on Sunday.
The book on the attacks and the investigation, written by retired senior police inspector Ramesh Mahale, was launched by Director General of Police (Maharashtra) Datta Padsalgikar. The launch on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attacks was also attended by Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti.
Mr. Mahale was the chief investigating officer of the 26/11 case and handled everything from the interrogation of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist and accused, to the charge sheet and preparation of dossiers to be produced in international forums. He took voluntary retirement in May 2013 and has since been delivering lectures on investigation to police forces in the State.
He said the book was born out of his anger at The Siege, written by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy. “I was the chief guest at the release of the book’s Marathi version in Pune by Menaka Prakashan in 2014 … it was factually incorrect and spoke a lot about supposed inefficiency on part of the police, whereas the opposite was true. The publishers suggested that I write a book to project the good work done by us.”
Mr. Bharti, who was additional commissioner of police (crime) at the time, said Mr. Mahale was unanimously chosen as the chief investigating officer after the case was transferred to the Crime Branch. “There is a line in the British sitcom Yes, Prime Minister that goes, ‘The ship of the state is the only ship that leaks from the top’. Mr. Mahale is used to speaking less and letting his superiors do the talking. Which is why I need to talk about the hard work he put in. During the 90 days in which we investigated the case and filed the charge sheet, I don’t remember seeing him leave for home. He was always in office by the time I left and always waiting for me when I arrived in the morning,” Mr. Bharti said.
He said it was a “significant coincidence” that Mr. Padsalgikar, who was the Mumbai head of the Intelligence Bureau at the time, was launching the book. “When the attacks began, it was he who first gave us the input that the attack was being perpetrated by terrorists from Pakistan. His inputs helped us a great deal.”
Both Mr. Bharti and Mr. Padsalgikar lamented Mr. Mahale’s early retirement. Mr. Padsalgikar said, “When he came to invite me to launch his book, and told me about his anger at The Siege, I told him even I was angry at him: for leaving our side so soon. It was a huge challenge to file a charge sheet in 90 days in a case like 26/11, and while he maintains he only played a small role, I would say he played the biggest part. The investigation, for the first time, gave India a chance to say with concrete evidence that the terrorists had come from Pakistan. The terrorists’ masters were fully confident that they would not survive and had even furnished local identity documents for them, so that they could once again claim that the attackers were Indians. Kasab’s last words to Mr. Mahale were ‘Mahale sahab, aap jeet gaye, main haar gaya (Mr. Mahale, you have won, I have lost)’.”