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Salaskar's driver breaks down during deposition

By Prasanna D Zore
Last updated on: July 24, 2009 17:07 IST
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Emotions ran high during the ongoing trial in the Mumbai terror attacks case in the Special Court in Mumbai's Arthur Road jail on Friday.

Arun Jadhav, the sole survivor of the Toyota Qualis carrying three of Mumbai's top policemen -- Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar on the day of the terror attack -- broke down while deposing before the court.

Incidentally, it was during Jadhav's deposition on Monday that Ajmal Amir Kasab, the prime accused in the case, had pleaded guilty to his crimes.

Jadhav explained in graphic detail the incidents that led to the deaths of the three top cops. He started crying while describing how Abu Ismail (Kasab's associate who was later gunned down by the police) and Kasab threw the bodies of the police officers out of the car, after they were killed in the encounter.

On spotting the bullet-proof jacket worn by Karkare, an emotional Jadhav told the court, "Kasab said, 'b********d, yeh log to jacket pehne hain' (these people are wearing bullet-proof jackets).'

Jadhav, who was Salaskar's driver, was very close to the slain policeman.

He also reacted angrily when Kasab's lawyer Abbas Kazmi asked him why he didn't 'burst fire' during the encounter. The constable had sustained five bullet injuries -- two in his left shoulder and three in his right elbow -- during the encounter. Jadhav told the court that one bullet was still lodged in his right elbow. "Had I burst fire, we would have all died on the spot," he said, angrily pointing towards Kasab.

During the encounter, Jadhav informed the court that he and the three top policemen had fired at Ismail and Kasab. He also saw the gun falling from Kasab's hands. "But I can't say whose bullet had hit Kasab," he told Kazmi.

Earlier, Special Judge M L Tahiliani expressed his shock when a major incident mentioned by Jadhav in his deposition was not found in the police records containing his statement.

Jadhav told the court that the two terrorists, Ismail and Kasab, had asked the occupants of a white Skoda to get down at gunpoint, near Vidhan Bhavan in south Mumbai. According to Jadhav, he saw the driver of the Skoda throw the keys of the car towards the terrorists. However, this incident was not mentioned in the police records.

Jadhav also described to the court how Kasab fired at constable Dilip Bhonsale, from inside the Qualis, when the policeman's mobile phone rang during the encounter.

Kasab has asked his lawyer Kazmi to verify whether Jadhav's deposition matched the statement given by him to the Mumbai police on November 28 last year -- which proves that Kasab understands the court's proceedings that take place in English, Hindi and Marathi.

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Prasanna D Zore