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Hemant Karkare, A Daughter’s Memoir, written by the braveheart’s daughter, is an account of the life of a man who lived for his country, doted upon his family, and did not think twice before taking on the terrorists on the night of 26th November 2008.
26/11 is a day that will remain etched in the memory of every Mumbaikar. A day when a group of 10 terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba organization of Pakistan attacked Mumbai, and wreaked havoc on the city leaving almost 200 people dead and 300 injured.
A day when some of the iconic buildings of the city were held hostage, with people shot at mercilessly; when the country lost some of its real-life heroes to the madness that we call “terrorism”, and when the common man realized (much to his horror) how ineffectual are the powers that be when it comes to safe-guarding the lives of us – the citizens.
Having lived in Mumbai since 1977, this city, for me, is my motherland. So, days like the 1993 bomb blasts that shook the city, the train bomb blasts of July 2006, and 26/11 are all etched in my mind, recollecting which fills me with rage. It’s a city I love the most in the entire world—all others pale in comparison! So, when reading about the day when my Mumbai was disfigured by a handful of mad men on the one hand, and protected by a handful of men in uniform on the other, there was not a single page that did not make my eyes tear up. There was not a single moment as I read this story that I wished these heroes had been given a second chance at life. They deserved it. Their families deserved it. Our country deserved it.
Hemant Karkare’s daughter Jui Karkare Navare has paid a beautiful tribute to her father in this book that has stories of his bravery, his simplicity, his magnanimity, his compassion, his artistic bend of mind, his zest for life, and for doing something for the larger good.
Stories narrated by his colleagues, his junior officers, his seniors, relatives, and friends from his school and college, and people who worked closely with him go to show what a beautiful human being Mr. Karkare was.
A man, who was martyred on the fateful night of 26th November and in whose death our country lost a gem, the kind we will never come across, ever.
Mr. Karkare’s colleagues best elucidate his courage as a man in the uniform who helped clean up Chandrapur of the Naxalite menace. How he got to the bottom of the issue, gathered comprehensive information about the Naxals and with clever planning helped nab the notorious naxalites and gave the people of Chandrapur a chance at peace.
A down-to-earth, compassionate boss who impressed his juniors with his style of working in tandem with the entire team instead of just issuing orders, and who gave credit to the officers who deserved it.
How, as a policeman, he would strike a chord with the common man who is known to have little faith in men in the uniform, would help find a solution to their problems calmly and gently, and go the extra mile in helping them find justice.
He had a simple childhood with his parents instilling in him and his siblings the right values and the importance of hard work, patience and single-mindedness.
It’s what helped mould him into the fine human being that he blossomed into.
A loving and indulgent parent, he also instilled similar values in his children, and held the entire family together.
This quote by him to his children reminded me of similar words my mother reiterates to make me an emotionally independent woman, strong enough to look after her needs instead of depending upon others.
“Find your happiness within, make your own happiness, do not depend on others for your happiness, else you will surely find it difficult to be happy.”
“We have lost an artistic officer with an aesthetic sense, who was always approachable.” Said Mr. Kamal Kashyap, former Director General of Police, Maharashtra, about Mr. Karkare.
Hemant Karkare was an avid reader and an artist who indulged in these two hobbies whenever he had free time on his hands. His artwork made from driftwood adorned his home and his office as well as homes of his dear ones.
After a hard day’s work, art was Mr. Karkare’s respite. It was when he spent time in the company of the many pieces of wood he collected from the forests and brought them to life by giving them different shapes without changing their essence.
His love for books and music helped him find peace in the chaos of life that his job brought with it.
It was in one of the chapters that I discovered he worked closely alongside Dr. Anand Nadkarni, Head of the Institute of Psychological Health, Thane, and our family psychiatrist!
It was a pleasant surprise for me to know how Mr. Karkare and Dr. Nadkarni – the residents of the same apartment complex – worked together for social causes close to their hearts.
With Dr. Nadkarni being an important part of my family –he treated my mother-in-law and husband, and has been a pillar of strength for me– it was all the more an emotional moment for me as I read how Mr. Karkare gave his time, energy and resources for the social causes that Dr.Nadkarni worked for.
Drug abuse, women empowerment, and a life education program for adolescents, were some of the causes Mr. Karkare helped Dr. Nadkarni with.
Indeed a matter of great pride and awe for me!
At a time when the political-social milieu has become fraught, with right and wrong being upturned in a quest for power, there are sincere, straightforward and hard-working people like Mr. Karkare, who put the country and their duty towards the country, first.
When these brave-hearts fight with the terrorists, it’s often the power-hungry people who indulge in dirty politics; who damage the reputation of those who work for the country, and are an impediment in the efforts of these heroes.
It’s real-life heroes whose stories, such as this book, that need to be read by one and all. I highly recommend this book, not only to every Mumbaikar but also to every Indian. We all need to know about the modern day heroes who have lived amidst us, and fought for our country. We also need to know who the real villain is! What better than such a book that introduces us to the real terrorists?
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