'I wish my father wasn't so brave on 26/11'

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 18, 2009 08:38 hrs

Mumbai: They remember his little gestures - a cake one day, a dress on another. They wish their father, assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble, hadn't been so brave on the night of 26/11.

Omble had held on to the barrel of Ajmal Amir Kasab's rifle, taking fatal bullets, while other policemen captured the terrorist alive.

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'When I look at it from your point of view, I am proud of my father. But when I think about it as his daughter, I feel it would have been all right if he hadn't done what he did,' said Vaishali, 23, one of Omble's four daughters.

'He was everything to us. We remember his little gestures, a cake some day, a new dress on another. Since we had no brother, he was like a true friend to us, he could read our minds.'

Two of the daughters are married. Among the other two - Vaishali takes tuitions to earn some money and the youngest is doing her MCom.

Omble's widow Tarabai hardly steps out of the house barring occasional appearances at functions to honour her husband. Her daughters try not to leave her home alone.

At times some reports have upset Tarabai, but Vaishali generally credits the media for helping the world realize Omble's supreme sacrifice. He was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India's highest peacetime gallantry award.

'It took a long while for our father to receive credit for what he did. We are thankful that he has finally been given the honour he is due,' said Vaishali.

She is the one doing most of the talking now - the other daughters are not even being named in order to avoid constant queries by journalists. A year ago too, she was the last one in the family to speak to Omble.

At 11.30 p.m., on Nov 26, 2008, he had told Vaishali that he would meet her elder sister the next day. It had been six months since Vaishali's elder sister had got married and Omble had not seen her since then.

'Tell her I will be there Thursday (Nov 27) morning,' he told Vaishali. Barely 75 minutes later, Omble was dead.

The news was conveyed to the stunned family only at 5 a.m. 'They didn't know how to tell us immediately,' said Vaishali.

On the night of the attack Omble was posted near a police roadblock at Girgaum Chowpatty. The spot is the gateway to Malabar Hill, the top VVIP residential area in south Mumbai which houses the governor, judges, ministers, diplomats, industrialists and some filmstars.

Around 12.30 a.m., the team manning the roadblock received information that two terrorists had hijacked a private Skoda car and were speeding towards Chowpatty.

Moments later, Omble saw the Skoda coming; he sprang on his motorcycle and went in hot pursuit. The car slowed near the roadblock and tried to take a U-turn, but hit a divider.

Omble and five other policemen armed with batons rushed towards the door where one of the terrorists - later identified as Abu Ismail - was seated on the front seat.

The other terrorist, Kasab, tried to come out of the car when Omble and his colleagues tried to snatch the AK 47 rifle he was holding. But the terrorist put up a fierce resistance.

Omble caught the barrel of the gun and held on to it with his full strength. Even as the policemen tried to overpower Kasab, the terrorist opened fire.

Omble was critically injured and another colleague Sanjay Govilkar sustained a bullet wound on his wrist. By that time, the other policemen managed to hit Kasab repeatedly with their batons and disarm him. The other terrorist, Abu Ismail, was dead.

The family hopes Kasab will be punished. He was the only one of 10 terrorists to be caught alive in the 26/11 attacks that claimed at least 166 lives in Mumbai.

'Now, we are not afraid of anything, not even dying. Our father gave his life for the people,' said Omble's youngest daughter.

Fortunately for the family, household expenses in his absence have not been a problem. He had bought a house and provided for the family.

'Still, it is very difficult without him. We have to manage everything ourselves - the little things and the big things,' said Omble's youngest daughter, breaking into tears every now and then.

'Even today, we hope one evening he will return from work as usual...'

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