The bullet-proof jacket worn by slain Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare during the 26/11 attacks was not stolen but misplaced in a state-run hospital in Mumbai, a police probe into its disappearance has suggested.
"The probe, which is nearing completion, suggests that the jacket had not been stolen, but misplaced by hospital authorities," Senior Inspector Khanderao Patil of J J Marg Police Station told PTI on Friday. "We will submit the probe report to Mazgaon court next month and seek quashing of the FIR which alleged theft of the vest," he said. Karkare was killed on the night of November 26, 2008 by terrorists near Cama Hospital. Subsequently, his body was taken to J J Hospital in south Mumbai for a post-mortem. Later, his wife Kavita learnt through an RTI inquiry that his vest had gone missing from the hospital's premises.
Last December, the J J Marg police station registered an FIR for theft of jacket against unidentified persons following a complaint by social activist Santosh Daundkar. Daundkar claimed the bullet-proof vest was a vital piece of evidence in the backdrop of the allegations that the government had procured sub-standard jackets. J J Hospital Dean T P Lahane declined to comment, saying he had no idea what police probe had indicated. After the FIR was registered, Lalji Gataar, a Class IV employee of J J Hospital, had told the media that he had mistakenly put the jacket inside a bag containing medical waste. This bag was later dumped at the dumping ground in suburban Deonar.
Daundkar's lawyer Y P Singh rejected the police's claim. "This can't be believed. The police are shifting the blame (on the hospital) and playing safe. How come such a heavy jacket with blood stains can be misplaced in the hospital?" he asked. Demanding a CBI inquiry into the matter, Singh, a former IPS officer, said, "since senior city police officials were involved in procuring sub-standard bullet-proof jackets, there cannot be transparency in the probe by Mumbai Police. Only CBI can do justice to the case."