‘There is no life in
this house anymore’
Nishi Tiwari visits the family of Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble,
who died so that Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab could be caught alive
‘There is no recognition of the fact that we stood
up to those terrorists’
Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble’s wife Tarabai, second from left, during an event commemorating the first anniversary of the attack
Pravin Pandurang Sawant was an hour and 30 minutes into his 12-hour shift when the wireless radio inside his police patrol van crackled with a
message from the main control room near Metro cinema in south Mumbai.
“The operator said there were reports of something
like firecrackers being burst near Leopold Café on
Colaba Causeway, and told us to check it out,” says
Sawant, who is a police naik. Sitting on a sofa-cum-bed
in his home at the police quarters near the Chhatrapati
Shivaji Terminus in south Mumbai, Sawant, 46, says
none of his five colleagues in the van gave it any thought,
because there was an India cricket match on.
“It was around 9.30 pm and we were at Colaba market. We reached Leopold in five minutes or thereabouts
and parked across the road. Even as we got off, our van
was hit by a spray of bullets,” he recalls.
Sawant was the first to get out of the van and saw foreigners lying injured or dead on the road in front of the
“Don’t ask me what went through my mind. I don’t
know, I don’t remember. It’s not some romantic
moment, you know,” he says, adding that he thought it
was a gang war.
He had little time to think. Almost immediately, he
was shot at, twice.
UT TAM GHOSH
Every year as November 26 approaches, memories of the day three years ago come rushing back to Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble’s wife
Tarabai and his four daughters. Omble lost his life while trying to arrest terrorist Ajmal Kasab at south Mumbai’s
“She is still coming to terms with the loss, but around this
time each year she is a little more anxious than usual,” says
Vaishali, one of the braveheart’s four daughters, about her
mother’s state of mind.
Vaishali, 25, does all the talking; younger sister Bharti
retreats to the inner room after offering us water. Tarabai
moves around listlessly with a vacant look in her eyes. She
and the two youngest daughters, Vaishali and Bharti, — the
elder two, Pavitra and Vandana, are married — live in the
police colony apartment that was allotted to the police officer.
Vaishali is pursuing her master’s in education and takes
tuitions. Bharti is in the second year of her master’s in commerce course at Mumbai University. Bharti also holds a
clerical job in the traffic police department, which she
intends to pursue once her studies are over.
The government’s compensation to the family ensures
they get by, but nothing can make up for the loss the family
“He used to play carom with us in the evenings; there is no
life in this house anymore,” says Vaishali, her eyes moist.
When Vaishiali’s elder sister Vandana delivered a baby girl
eight months ago, the entire family wished Omble was there
to witness it.
“Ever since he has been gone, I have had to do everything,
including running errands, the occasional paper work — I
was blissfully unaware of so many things when papa was
around,” Vaishali says.
In her brave father’s memory, she has founded a charitable trust through which she intends to help underprivileged
people get education and medical aid. The loss has taught
her the importance of education and good health. She
intends to help people in her father’s ancestral village and
other less fortunate people around her through the trust.
She has just completed the formalities for the same.
“We should all take a lesson from 26/11 and look after our-
selves instead of depending on others,” she says. “I do not
want anyone else to go through what we have experienced in
the past three years.”
The Ombles’ grief is tinged with an immense pride that
anchors their resilience.
January 26, 2009, the Ashok Chakra — India’s highest
peace time gallantry award — was conferred upon the late
Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble for his bravery. A
police outpost near in Worli, a short distance from his
home, was renamed Shahid Tukaram Omble Chowk.
And the people have not forgotten the supreme sacrifice
made by Omble in the call of duty — questions about his
address are met with welcoming smiles.
“People we do not even know call up on Diwali and other
festivals to enquire if we are doing okay,” says Vaishali.
“They send in sweets and some of them even turn up to cel-
ebrate with us.”
“First on the palm of my
left hand (he holds it up)
but there’s no scarring, and
the second shot in my
groin,” he says.
Pravin Pandurang Sawant